US Embassy Announces Changes in Visa Applications After Uproar

  • A US Visa hanging out of a bag
    A US Passport hanging out of a bag.
    File
  • The United States Embassy in Nairobi on Monday, July 24, announced changes to its visa application process after concerns were raised by Kenyans.

    In a statement dated Monday, July 25, the Embassy introduced three features aimed at expediting the application process while keeping the applicants in the loop the entire time.

    For instance, individuals applying for Visas will now be able to see interview wait times until their next appointment after the embassy updated its website to reflect the same.

    The page will also clearly show the type of fees that are non-refundable 'so Kenyans can make informed decisions before submitting their application and paying the associated fees.'

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    An undated image of the entrance to the US Embassy in Gigiri, Nairobi.
    Capital Group

    The US Embassy also 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.

    In yet another change, the embassy introduced 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.

    Initially, applicants had to wait for more than a year since available dates for a visitor visa appointment in Nairobi were set for June 2024.

    "U.S. Embassy Nairobi recognizes the significant challenges and frustrations this poses for Kenyans planning to visit the United States for business and tourism.

    "Since resuming operations, U.S. Embassy Nairobi has doubled the number of daily interviews and will continue to add additional staff and increase capacity over time," read the statement in part.

    The changes come weeks after the world expressed its concern following a visa hitch that saw sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala almost miss the World Championships in Oregon, USA.

    The delay forced him to miss a flight that was scheduled on Tuesday night, July 12.

    Later, President Uhuru Kenyatta Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and the US Embassy in Nairobi worked to expedite the processing of Omanyala's visa.

    The athlete bowed out of the World Championships after he emerged fifth in the semi-finals of the 100 metres race. This is after arriving hours to the event on Friday, July 15, due to the visa delays. 

    An image of Ferdinand Omanyala during the World Championship race in Oregon on July 16, 2022.
    An image of Ferdinand Omanyala during the World Championship race in Oregon on July 16, 2022.
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