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US Embassy in Kenya addresses visa delay complaints

National
 The United States of America Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. [File, Standard]

The United States Embassy in Kenya says it has added staff members to help clear a backlog of visa applications, even as Kenyans continue to pile pressure on the consulate to address delays.

Visa Grader estimates that it could take a US visa applicant in Nairobi at least 174 days for his or her application to be processed.

A visitor visa takes the longest time (687 days), student/exchange visitor visa (665 days) and all other non-immigrant visas (174 days).

According to the US Embassy in Kenya, the earliest available dates for a visitor visa appointment in Nairobi are in June 2024.

The embassy said the delays were caused by temporary discontinuation of visa application due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to Covid-19 health and safety measures, nonimmigrant visa interviews at U.S. Embassy Nairobi ceased for over a year.  The Embassy restarted interviews at full capacity in February 2022,” said the US consulate in an official statement on Monday, July 25.

“The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi recognises the significant challenges and frustrations this poses for Kenyans planning to visit the United States for business and tourism.”

Besides adding staff members to help clear the backlog, the embassy says it has updated its webpage to reflect current visa wait times.

“The Embassy emphasises [that visa application] fees are nonrefundable so Kenyans can make informed decisions before submitting their application and paying the associated fees.

“We instituted a visa renewal process that does not require an in-person interview for certain applicants. Kenyans renewing visitor (B1/B2 category) or student visas (F category) whose visas expired less than one year ago may be eligible to renew without an interview,” said the consulate.

“We offer expedited appointments for emergency situations, including the death of an immediate family member, the need to travel for urgent medical care, and for students whose program starts in less than 30 days and who will suffer irreparable harm, such as the loss of a scholarship, if they cannot travel,” said the US Embassy.

 

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