COMESA to investigate unfair Visa application processes

The COMESA Competition Commission has issued a press release indicating that the Commission is set to investigate concerns that some agents of embassies and diplomatic missions in Member States impose overly stringent conditions to visa applicants.

Meti Demissie Disasa, the CCC registrar noted four grounds for investigation namely; Holding passports of the applicants for considerably long periods, sometimes up to 45 days, thereby curtailing movements of the applicants to other countries.

She also pointed out also to be looked at is processing the visa in longer period than the time indicated on the visa forms and at times going beyond the expected time of travel thereby causing applicants to miss out on planned activities.

Also of interest is scheduling appointments for visa applicants to the dates that are so close to or past the time of travel; and asking applicants to pay visa fees as high as US$ 179 before allowing them access to select dates for interviews which may not be available before their travel dates.

“The Commission has established that the agents charge visa applicants a payment for

visa administrative fees, courier of passports and commission for the agents,” Disasa said.

“While the administrative fees may be considered as the cost for the service rendered by the Embassies, the service of processing visa application by agents for which they receive a

commission and money for the courier of passports is purely an economic activity that is

conducted as a business with the objective of making profits and must therefore comply

with the Regulations,” she added.

The COMESA Competition Commission is a body corporate established under Article 6 of the COMESA Competition Regulations, with a mandate to, among others: enforce the Regulations, promote competition and protect consumers against offensive conduct by market actors within the Common Market.

Disasa said that the CCC is concerned with enhancing the welfare of consumers in the Common Market and to protect consumers against offensive conduct by market actors.

“In this regard, the visa processing companies acting on behalf of the embassies and diplomatic missions accredited to COMESA do undertake economic activities in the Common Market and must therefore comply with the Regulations,” she explained.

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