Getting into Uzbekistan means that most of the travelers need to apply for a visa. There are only 17 nationalities that are exempt from this effort, but the rest of the tourists need a travel document that allows them to cross the border. However, the citizens of Uzbekistan also need a document that enables them to exit the country. Basically, they need a document that gives them permission to leave the country.
The system mentioned above is called Exit Visa System. All Uzbek citizens must apply for an exit visa at the Interior Ministry’s local Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR.) It is a tedious process that requires time, effort, and a lot of money. A person must pay one minimal monthly salary for the registration, which to think of it, is a pretty significant amount for a piece of paper that allows you to leave the country.
The policy is reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. As you can imagine, it has become obsolete. Turkmenistan, another country that used to have the exit visa system in place, has already let go of the unnecessary process, and Uzbekistan is to follow in its footsteps. Not only that the system makes life harder for the people who are trying to leave the country searching for a better life, but it seems that it is also a significant source of income for some of the officials that are handling the registration. As mentioned earlier, the process takes quite some time, and some officials would take bribes in order to expedite the process.
Nevertheless, there is good news for the Uzbek nationals. The president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoev, plans to abolish the exit visa system in the near future. As a result of the decree he signed, all Uzbek people who exit the country starting January 2019 will no longer have to apply for an OVIR visa. Of course, there needs to be a replacement plan for the OVIR visa, and here is where biometric passports make their entrance.
The reality is that a lot of people from Central Asia, not only from Uzbekistan, seek employment in other countries. In this particular case, most Uzbeks go to Russia for better jobs. They send money home to their families, so in a way; the president’s initiative will improve the country’s economy as well. Not to mention that people will have more freedom to cross the border without spending too much time and money on a document that is primarily meant to make their lives harder than it is already are.
The bottom line is that from January 2019, all Uzbeks will no longer have to apply for two visas, so to speak. There is the one required by the exit visa system and the one required by the state in which they plan to go. Of course, the latter is not always the case, but it still should be mentioned. If you think about it, one application process is more than enough. Why make things harder with two?