US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman pledges to expedite VISA application process

The newly appointed United States ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The newly appointed United States ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman has promised to expedite the VISA application process for Kenyans seeking the permit.

This comes amid social media complaints of a slow process after Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala nearly missed the World Athletics Championships which were being held in the US, as a result of the delay.

In her first media address since she arrived for her new role last Sunday, Whitman said that the US embassy was aware of the long waiting time and to has promised come up with a solution.

"I am aware of the very long waiting times that Kenyans experience when applying for VISAs to the US. The situation is unacceptable. We need to find ways to expedite those VISA applications. I promise you that we (the US Embassy in Kenya) will find ways to accelerate the process. That will be one of my top priorities," Whitman told the media.

"The Embassy will see through this as soon as possible," she added.

While commemorating the victims of the 7 August 1998 US Embassy bombing, that claimed over 200 lives, Whitman also promised to address the issue of compensating the affected people.

"I am aware of the situation; I am not aware of solutions in progress. I am only six days on the job so I will get back to you with my understanding of the victims and if or when they will be compensated," she said.

Last week, the US embassy in Kenya released an advisory security alert to its citizens in Kisumu, warning of possible election-related chaos.

However, the embassy withdrew the statement shortly after it sparked rage and anger on social media, as Kenyans accused the US embassy of profiling the Nyanza-based city.

This morning, the ambassador of the US to Kenya said the alert was routine, adding that the embassy's top priority was the safety of its personnel and citizens.

"We issued a routine alert to make sure our people are alert on the situation we face. We don't have any information that you don't have on any dangers. My top priority is the safety of our personnel and citizens. Does not reflect US views on the outcome of the elections," Whitman said.

Whitman was appointed by President Joe Biden in December 2021 and is taking over from Kyle McCarter who was appointed during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.

Ambassador Whitman was confirmed in a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate as the eighteenth United States Ambassador to Kenya on July 14, 2022.

Whitman was a senior member of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns in both 2008 and 2012 and ran for Governor of California as a Republican in 2010 but supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in the 2020 election.

She has significant experience leading business organizations, from start-ups to large multinational companies in Silicon Valley.