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Uzbek Authorities Say Visa Reform To Simplify Travel Abroad

Uzbekistan’s government says its plan to abandon a requirement for Uzbek citizens to seek the authorities’ permission to leave the country will make it much easier for them to travel abroad.

In an August 8 statement, the Foreign Ministry said that a draft presidential decree on the abolition of exit visas is being reviewed by government agencies.

The proposal is one of a number of initiatives that appear aimed at opening up the country under President Shavkat Mirziyoev, who was elected after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov last year.

The Foreign Ministry said that the draft presidential decree would also make it easier for Uzbek nationals to relinquish their citizenships or to obtain official documents when they reside abroad.

In January, a draft presidential decree posted on a government website included a clause that would scrap the long-standing requirement that Uzbeks seeking to travel abroad receive an exit visa.

However, some Uzbek officials have played down expectations that the tightly controlled Central Asian nation will abolish exit visas anytime soon.

The exit-visa system inherited from the Soviet era has been a major barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country. It has also become a source of illegal income for officials who expedite the process in exchange for bribes.

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