In August 2022, the President of the Republic of Mozambique announced a package of measures aimed at promoting Mozambique's economy after the recession caused by COVID-19 and other internal events. The measures, called the Stimulus Package for the Acceleration of the Economy (PAE), included, among others, immigration measures. The aim of this article is to discuss some of these immigration measures and see if they have contributed to promoting the national economy.
The main immigration measures of the PAE announced by the President of the Republic were as follows:
- visa exemption for citizens of countries with a low immigration risk;
- visas for investment activity with longer periods for foreign citizens with investments in Mozambique; and
- review of entry visas.
- Main immigration measures announced by the President of the Republic of Mozambique to promote the economy in Mozambique
- Visa exemption for citizens of countries with low immigration risk
Through Decree No. 10/2023 of 31 March, citizens of certain countries are exempt from entry visas to Mozambique for tourism and business purposes for a period of 30 days. This period can be extended, subject to justification.
The exemption came into force 30 days after the publication of the above Decree. Some of the countries covered by this exemption are Canada, the Swiss Confederation, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Japan, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the French Republic, the Italian Republic, the People's Republic of China and the Portuguese Republic, among others.
- Visas for investment activity with longer periods for foreign citizens with investments in Mozambique
Shortly after the President announced the PAE, articles 17, 18 and 21 of Decree 108/2014 of 31 December, which establishes the Regulation of the Legal Regime for Foreign Citizens, were amended. This amendment covered the duration of visas for investment activities, increasing the validity period from 2 years to 5 years for projects worth 50 million US dollars or more, with the validity period of 2 years remaining applicable to investments worth less than that amount, but which exceed 500,000 US dollars.
- Review of entry visas
The aforementioned amendment to the Regulation on the Legal Regime for Foreign Citizens also covered the broadening of the purposes of the business visa, which in addition to meetings, including General Assembly meetings, now covers scientific research, participation in conferences, workshops and similar events.
As part of the review of entry visas, an electronic visa application system was also introduced for citizens of countries not covered by the visa waiver, in order to make it easier to obtain visas
2. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the measures in promoting the Mozambican economy
The main immigration measures mentioned in a) to c) above, adopted to promote the national economy, proved to be insufficient for this purpose due to the following reasons:
- Despite the fact that Decree No. 10/2023 of 31 March exempts citizens of certain countries for tourism and business purposes, companies registered in Mozambique are wary of receiving these foreigners to attend various ongoing meetings on their premises, since, in the event of a labour inspection, the inspectors, based on their discretion, tend to assume that the foreign citizens are working irregularly and therefore impose fines on the company.
- Under the terms set forth for visas relating to investment activities, it is mandatory for the investor and the representative or attorney-in-fact of the investment to also have a work permit, which does not seem coherent for those investing in the country, since for visas for humanitarian assistance, the law expressly exempts the holder from having a work permit.
- As part of the review of entry visas, for workers who intend to enter the country in possession of a short-term work permit, the legislator should have: a) established a separate, simplified visa category for foreigners travelling to the country to carry out short-term work; or ii) expressly exempted holders of business visas from short-term work permits; or iii) established and clarified the use of the short-term work permit for the cases in which foreign workers must apply for it. It should be noted that, for holders of humanitarian assistance visas, the legislator has already expressly stated that they do not need work permits, in order to clarify any doubts.
Based on the above, it can be concluded that, from an immigration point of view, the main measures adopted, although relevant, are not enough to promote the country's economy, except for the implementation of the evisa system (www.evisa.gov.mz), which has proved to be efficient. It is understood that the following measures would be useful for promoting the national economy, if implemented, and we hereby leave them as suggestions for the Mozambican state, with a view to promoting the country's economy:
- an explicit exemption in the law from the work perrmit for the holder of a visa for investment activity, on account of the investment;
- preliminary online issuance of work visas by evisa, because if other types of visas are issued, it should also be allowed the online issuance for workers, as they are part of the country's productive force;
- the preliminary issue of short-term work visas online by evisa to respond to the need for punctual or urgent visits by international workers to companies (especially multinationals) in the country, who need to carry out urgent, occasional or punctual work, carrying the respective short-term work certificates.
It is understood that the above-mentioned measures could promote the country's economy, since an increase in the country's productive force generates more revenue that allows wages to rise in general.
However, the promotion of a country's economy is not limited to the implementation of immigration measures, but other measures of a different scope and immigration measures only contribute in part or can be a vector in the implementation of such measures. As an example, measures in the area of education aimed at stimulating a country's economy, the State can use immigration laws and others as a vector to improve the conditions and structure of access to education for its population. That is, by encouraging NGOs to develop infrastructure projects and creating agreements whose ultimate aim is to train young Mozambican personnel for the domestic and global markets. By doing so, Mozambique will be able to stimulate economic growth, create more job opportunities and contribute to fostering the nation's sustainable development.