A Practical Guide to Obtaining a Missionary, Volunteer and Ngo Permits in Uganda.

Uganda remains one of the fast growing economies in East Africa as well as a country that is endowed with the best tourism and business investment opportunities in the world. Ugandans are generally accommodative to their ‘brothers and sisters’ in fulfillment of the famous neighborhood principle “that you must love your neighbor as you love yourself” which further calls for due care.
Over the years, Uganda has witnessed a number of foreign missionaries and volunteers who work in Non-Governmental Organizations, Churches and as well as students in various institutions. Such groups are always mandated to acquire either a visa, work permit or a special pass while settling and migrating to Uganda.
The category of immigration status in Uganda is determined by the kind of work, a foreigner is engaged in as well as the intended duration or period of stay while in Uganda.
Missionary or Volunteer work permits in Uganda are classified as Class G1 work permits and are granted by the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) through the Immigration Control Department which is vested with powers to receive, vet and approve or reject work permits, special passes, student passes, dependant passes and all other types of visa applications.

Application process
Class G1 work permits are specifically granted to missionaries, volunteers or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers who have been appointed by a duly registered NGO under the Laws of Uganda and the said Organization/NGO is in possession of a valid operational permit issued by the National Bureau for NGOs. Work permits are always sponsored by an organization which must have a mandatory organization code.
An applicant for a work permit may apply for a preferred period depending on the contract period, that is the time for which he or she is employed as a missionary or volunteer by a particular organization.

Work permits in Uganda are granted for a period of either 6, 12, 24 or 36 months respectively and the government application cost or fee for the Class G1 work permit specifically varies depending on the number of months applied for as illustrated below;

Period (Months) Application fees (USD)
6 125
12 250
24 500
36 750


  1. Fees for work permits can change anytime. In case of such change the government normally issues out new fees regulations at the beginning of the financial year, unless otherwise. Normally, it is the Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs that issues out such fees regulations.
  2. Nationals of Kenya and Rwanda seeking to study or work in Uganda are now able to obtain a student pass or work permit at NO COST.

In order to obtain a class G1 work permit, an applicant for a work permit is required to have the following documents.

Appointment letter from the organization. This is a legally binding document and proof that an organization has offered a position to the applicant as a missionary or volunteer and that person has accepted the terms of such appointment. It is a guarantee about a given position in the organization. The letter must state the position to be held by a volunteer in the organization, the key components of the employee’s job and should state what is expected of him or her. The appointment letter should always be written on the organization’s letter head and should go into detail but not every single term may be discussed. The appointment letter is further proof of an individual’s legal position as a volunteer by a duly registered organization with a valid operational permit issued by the National Bureau for NGOs. More so, an organisation may only state the terms of engagement with a volunteer in a contract.
Cover letter from the organization. This is a letter from the organization addressed to the Commissioner for Immigration Control under the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, detailing the background of the NGO, the position held by the applicant and the intended district in Uganda that the applicant is meant to work from. The letter should also acknowledge the appointment of the applicant as a missionary or volunteer of an organization and recommend the applicant for the grant of a work permit to enable him or her to live and legally work in Uganda for a particular period.

Clearance from the Interpol or home country.Applicants for work permits ought to have a negative criminal record. A positive criminal record is a discredit to an applicant’s application for a work permit. Proof of criminal background is evidenced by a criminal record certificate obtained from either the applicant’s home country or in Uganda specifically the Directorate of Interpol and International relations under the Uganda Police Force based in Kololo.
Certified copy of qualifications. An applicant for a G1 work permit must possess proof of academic qualifications such as a Bachelors degree or Masters. A resume or CV (if any) is also proof of added importance to the applicant. NOTE: Applicants who are professionals such as medical workers among others are required to register with the relevant professional bodies and attach proof of such registration at the time of making an application.
Copy of the passport (bio data page) and Copy of recent passport size photograph. The applicant must be in possession of a valid passport issued by the relevant authorities of his or her country of origin. The passport bio-data page must be clear and readable to avoid any misinterpretation. The passport size photograph must also be recent. The passport should at least be valid for a period of six (6) months and above.
Recommendation letter from the NGO Bureau. As per Section 6 (e) and Section 45 of the Non Governmental Organization Act, 2016, the National Bureau for NGO’s (the Bureau) among other functions is mandated to make recommendations to the relevant authorities (such as the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control) with regard to employment of non-citizens by an organization. An application for a recommendation letter from the NGO Bureau to obtain a Class G1 work permit is made by way of a formal letter, from the appointing organization, addressed to the Executive Director of the National Bureau of NGOs. The application letter should be accompaigned by the following documents:-
Copy of the organization’s valid operational permit.
Copy of passport bio-data page.
Copy of appointment letter from the organization.
Copy of criminal record report or certificate.
Recent passport size photograph.
Copy of certified copy of qualifications.
List of staff (both local and foreign).
The Organisation bye laws (Articles of Association)

Once an application for the recommendation letter has been filed, the letter will be processed by the Bureau in at least three (3) working days. This is aimed at making sure that brief case NGO’s don’t abuse the work permits that are issued by the DCIC and such vetting is always key before grant of such recommendation letters.

Approval process.
Once the application is submitted to immigration, it will be studied by an immigration officer and an applicant will receive an email, via the provided email while applying, confirming receipt of the said application with an Application identification number (I.D).

Please note that during the approval process, additional information may be required such as; current visa, previous work permit (if any), copy of valid NGO operational permit among others. The new required information or any information previously not submitted can be submitted as and when need for it has been requested.

The decision taken on the application will be sent electronically through the already provided email and it may either be an approval or a rejection.
If approved, the applicant is required to pay the application fees through any bank designated by the Immigration authorities such as Diamond Trust Bank, Equity Bank, Stanbic Bank, Bank of Africa among others. Once the application is rejected, then the applicant who is dissatisfied with the decision shall make an appeal to the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Appeals arise from instances where a work permit application has been rejected and the affected party makes a petition to a higher supervising office contesting the decision of the Immigration Board. As earlier pointed out, the Immigration Board has the discretion to grant a work permit. In situations where the work permit application has been rejected, as per Section 10 (1) of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act, Cap 66 the applicant has a right to appeal against the decision of the Immigration Board to the Hon. Minister responsible for Internal Affairs, within thirty (30) days after the decision is communicated to him or her.

On appeal, the appellant/ applicant is required first to pay appeal fees of $500 USD as a condition precedent before lodging in an application.

Where an appeal has been made, the Minister may either confirm or reverse the decision of the Board or refer the matter to the Board for reconsideration.

The ideal situation is that whenever an applicant’s application is rejected by the Board, a reason is communicated to the applicant as to why the application was rejected. This helps an applicant to make an informed decision on whether to go ahead and lodge an appeal. The ground for an appeal must therefore have valid and accurate reasons that can convince the Hon. Minister to grant a positive decision.

In instances where the Minister has further rejected the appeal, the applicant will only be left with an option of making an appeal to the High Court which has to be lodged within 30 days from the date of rejection by the Minister.

Once the application is heard by the High Court, the decision pronounced by the High Court shall be final as envisaged in Section 10 (5) of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act, Cap 66.

Special pass.
This kind of pass allows a person to live in Uganda temporarily. This visa facility is available to applicants who may be completing immigration formalities or those who have visited Uganda and have fallen sick or with any other justifiable reason.
Special passes are also granted to a person intending to fulfil a short term contract of a maximum period of 5 months. But generally special passes are granted for 3 months.
The required documents to obtain a special pass are;
Passport copy (bio-data page).
Recent passport-size photograph.
Covering letter explaining reason for special pass and duration of stay required.

The application fees for obtaining a special pass are;
– 3 months 100 USD
– 5 months 150 USD

Dependent pass.
Persons whose work permit applications have been approved, finished personalization and have a relative(s) staying with them are required to obtain a dependent pass for such relative(s).
This pass is for relatives (wife, husband and children) of a non- Ugandan living and working in Uganda on a valid work permit. The dependant pass is linked to the principal (work permit holder) and does not permit the holder of such a dependant pass to work in Uganda.

A dependant pass applies to a person who by reason of age, disability or other incapacity is unable to maintain himself or herself and depends upon another person (work permit holder) for his or her maintenance and includes a spouse.

A dependant pass may also be granted to ‘other relatives’ on adducing sufficient evidence of relationship with the principal.

An applicant for a dependent pass is required to posses the following documents;
Marriage certificate
Cover letter from the principal (Work permit holder)
Copy of principal’s passport
Copy of principal’s work permit
Recent passport-size photograph
Passport copy (Bio-data page of the dependant)
Immigration status of the dependant in Uganda
Note: A person who is married to a Ugandan may also get a dependant pass upon proof of a legally subsisting marriage.

Birth certificate
Cover letter from the principal
Copy of principal’s passport
Copy of principal’s work permit
Recent passport-size photograph
Passport copy (Bio-data page of the dependant)
Immigration status of the dependant in Uganda
Other relatives/ members of the household
Cover letter from the principal stating the relationship and reason for the dependant pass
Copy of principal’s passport
Copy of principal’s work permit
Recent passport-size photograph
Passport copy (Bio-data page of the dependant)
Immigration status of the dependant in Uganda

The current prescribed fees for the dependant pass application are;
Spouse 200 USD
Child 100 USD
Other relatives/members of the household 500 USD

NOTE: A child with any of his or her parent as a Ugandan, is also entitled to apply for a dependant pass.

Student pass
A work permit holder with a child of at least five (5) years and above is required to obtain a student pass for his or her child.
The student pass allows the holder to live and study in Uganda for a specified period of time. But generally, a student pass is granted for a period of 3, 6 and 12 months and can be renewed upon or before expiry.

A student must be in a legally recognized education institution that is duly registered and licensed by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Foreigners whose children are under the ‘Home Schooling’ program are also required to obtain a student pass. Under the Home Schooling program, a child is given basic education by his or her parents while following the education curriculum of the parent’s country of origin.

The required documents to apply and obtain a student pass are;

Valid admission letter from the school
Cover letter from the school. The letter should explain the circumstances under which the student is being homeschooled for example the name of the school that the student is attached to, the teacher making follow up and the curriculum being followed, among others.
Valid student Identity Card
Copy of the passport (bio-data page)
Recent passport size photograph
Copy of parent’s work permit
Copy of parent’s passport

The application fees for a student pass are;
3 months 25 USD
6 months 50 USD
12 months 100 USD

Certificate of Permanent Residence
A certificate of permanent residence is granted to a foreigner on grounds of either continued long stay in Uganda or due to marriage to a Ugandan citizen.
An NGO worker who has been legally living and working in Uganda under a work permit issued by the Immigration Board for a period of ten (10) years, and has the continued intention of staying in Uganda, is entitled to apply for a Certificate of Residence.

Once granted, the certificate of permanent residence entitles that person to remain in Uganda for such a period as is stipulated in the Certificate.
The rationale for obtaining a certificate of permanent residence is that the certificate enables the holder to legally stay and work in Uganda for a longer period and at a lesser cost than continuously applying for a work permit.
A certificate of permanent residence is granted to a person on showing proof of the following:

Continuous stay legal stay in Uganda for a minimum period of ten (10) years; or
Existent of a subsisting legal marriage to a Ugandan citizen for three (3) years or such other period as may be prescribed. This applies to Non Ugandans that are married to Ugandans.

In addition to the above stated grounds, applicants must also show proof of;
Good character and integrity; that the applicant must have no criminal antecedents in Uganda or outside Uganda.
Contribution to the socio-economic and intellectual development of Uganda.
Proof of payment of any taxes required; and
The applicant is not bankrupt or destitute.

Therefore for one intending to migrate and work under a duly registered Non Governmental Organization with the National Bureau for NGOs is required to obtain a Class G1 work permit.