USA Department of State, Official Press Release ~ Uganda Little League Team Visas

Posted July 30, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 3,400 views


By Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson ~ Taken Question, Office of the Spokesperson,Washington, DC
QUESTION: What information can we provide regarding the travel of a team from Uganda to the Little League World Series?

ANSWER: The Rev. John Foundation Little League team from Kampala, Uganda submitted visa applications to travel to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Some of the applications included birth records which several parents admitted had been altered to make some players appear younger than they actually are.

The Department consulted closely with the Little League Association in the United States who advised that there were specific age limitations to play in the Little League World Series. Thus, those applicants who were over age did not qualify to play and consequently did not qualify for a visa for that purpose.

The State Department supports international sports competitions and welcomes the applications of any player who meets the competition organizer’s rules for participation.


Detailed Question and Answers: Excerpt from Question Taken at the July 29, 2011 Daily Press Briefing

QUESTION: Visa issues writ large, or more specifically, why did the – does the State Department deny visas to the Ugandan little league team, which was about to be the first African little league team to ever play in the Little League World Series?

MR. TONER: Well, I’m certainly aware of the story. As you know, we are limited or we cannot, frankly, discuss individual visa cases in public. I would just say in this case that I can assure you that consular officers examined each of these individuals and accorded them every consideration under the law. This is a very difficult situation, and we – but our consular officials are committed to upholding U.S. law. At the same time, they do accord these individuals who are coming in for visa interviews every consideration. And beyond that, I would have to refer you to the Little League officials in Williamsport.

QUESTION: Right. You said you were aware of this story, but you’re aware of the statement that Little League International has put out, correct?

MR. TONER: I am.

QUESTION: Which said that there were some – that there were discrepancies in these applications. What, were they denied en masse?

MR. TONER: I believe no, they were denied on an individual basis.

QUESTION: So none of these kids who are on this little league team qualify – were able to get a visa?

MR. TONER: It’s unclear to me whether it was a preponderance of the kids so that the team was no longer viable, if you will, or whether every individual on the team was denied.

QUESTION: All right. And when you say the consular –

MR. TONER: I could take that question, I think.

QUESTION: — consular officers examined each of them and –

MR. TONER: Individually.

QUESTION: — and accorded the – I mean, what does that mean? I mean, these are kids coming to play a baseball game.

MR. TONER: They – it means they adjudicate each of these cases individually. It’s – there’s an interview process, and they look at all appropriate data – place of birth, date of birth, family name, et cetera – and take all that into consideration before making their judgment.

QUESTION: Was there some concern that they might stay, that they might not move back to Uganda?

MR. TONER: I don’t – again, without going too far into this, because I’m not allowed to talk about these cases —

QUESTION: Well, this –

MR. TONER: — I don’t believe that was an issue.

QUESTION: All right. It just seems to me a little bit odd that this building would give a visa to a guy who puts a bomb in his underwear and flies to the United States and tries to blow up the plane, and a handful of Ugandan teenagers can’t come to play a game of baseball. It would just seem to strike at the very heart of your public diplomacy effort, particularly when baseball is supposed to be America’s game and you’re wanting to expand it and show goodwill. It just mystifies me.

MR. TONER: Well, Matt, it’s – again, it is a difficult situation. I won’t deny that. But these cases are adjudicated by consular officials who look very closely at all the appropriate data and they make their decisions based on that. In this case, these individuals did not receive a visa. Beyond that, I really can’t comment other than to say that I’d refer you to the Little League organizers for more information.



PRN: 2011/1261

Source: US Department of State:


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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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