Kenyans to travel to US with old passport after embassy U-turn on directive

The US Embassy in Nairobi has reversed its earlier decision to ban visa applications by Kenyans without digital passport.

In a tweet, the embassy said that they will place a US visa in a non-digital passport until further notice and that holders of current US visas do not need to take any action.

“Visa applicants may apply for a US visa with a non-digital Kenyan passport. We will place a US visa in a non-digital passport until further notice. Holders of current US visas do not need to take any action,” the embassy wrote in a tweet.

The embassy had earlier said it will no longer issue visas to Kenyans who don't have the new e-passports.

"All travellers to the United States from Kenya must have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry. Therefore, US Embassy Nairobi can no longer place US visas in the previously issued non-digital passport expiring August 31, 2019," read previous Facebook post.

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After the announcement, most of the affected Kenyans thronged the immigration offices at Nyayo House in a last-minute rush to comply with the directive with many complaining over the slow process.

In December 2018, the Deputy President (DP) William Ruto said the Government had pushed back plans to phase out old passports in favour of new travel documents.

He announced that the new deadline for acquiring new electronic passports had been pushed to 2020.

This contradicted the deadline given to public servants, going by the initial deadline of August 31, 2019, which the DP had said was not feasible since only 400,000 passport holders out of over 2.5 million Kenyans had replaced their travel documents.

The DP was speaking in Italy when he hosted Kenyans living there, who complained about the difficulties in replacing their travel documents and sought an extension of the deadline.

Kenyans in the diaspora can apply for new passport in London in UK, Paris in France, Washington DC in US, Pretoria in South Africa, Dubai in UAE and Berlin in Germany.

A letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated November, 20, 2018, asked Kenyan missions and consulates abroad to prepare ahead of commencement of applications for new passports on January 14 next year.

It means therefore that Kenyans in the diaspora have to travel to acquire the documents, an issue that drew heated debate in the meeting.

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