Reprieve for Kenyans as US Embassy Reduces Visa Wait Time

  • Ruto and Whitman
    A photo of President William Ruto and United States Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman on September 27, 2022, at State House, Nairobi.
    William Samoei Ruto
  • Kenyans planning to travel to the US can heave with relief after the Department of State reviewed visitor visa wait times.

    Speaking on NTV on Thursday November 24, Consul General-Head of Visa Section at the Kenyan US Embassy Deborah Miller revealed that the embassy had unveiled a variety of new programs, to ensure that interviews were even waived for some of the applicants.

    Previously applicants waited of over two years for an in person interview at the embassy, an issue that had been drastically reduced to a period of two to three months.

    "No one can defend the long wait for visas, it was an indefensible length of time, but we have taken concrete steps to address the issue by extending interviewing hours and scheduled appointments," Miller stated.

    A file image Business mogul and nominated US ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman
    A file image of Business mogul and US ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman

    On September 16, the US Embassy announced that Kenyans applying for tourist, business, student and crew visa renewal would not be subjected to interviews. 

    "Kenyans who have had visas that expired within the last 4 years can submit their documents for adjudication without coming in for an interview, formerly the limit was one year," Miller reinforced.

    She explained that US embassies all over the world had added resources to expedite the issuance of visas following a derailment in the process due to interruptions brought about by the pandemic.

    According to the official, the consulate had created a model for requesting expedited appointments via their website coupled with a thorough explanation for non-US citizens with urgent issues to attend to in the US.

    In a statement on November 17, the US Department of State announced it had doubled the hiring of US Foreign Service personnel globally to work on visa processing, a move that was rebounding faster than projected.

    "The Department of State is successfully lowering visa interview wait times worldwide.  We have doubled our hiring of U.S. Foreign Service personnel to do this important work, visa processing is rebounding faster than projected, and in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 we expect to reach pre‑pandemic visa processing levels," read the statement.

    The department further foretold that by the year 2023 it expected to reach pre‑pandemic visa processing levels, positive news for applicants of the US Department of State on the Diversity Visa Programme popularly known as Greencard.

    "As of November 2022, the median worldwide wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is about two months, and applicants with urgent travel needs who meet certain criteria can apply for an emergency appointment, usually available within days."

    In the past Kenyans have lamented over the prolonged wait and delays encountered in their quest to process US visas.

    Sprinting champion Ferdinand Omanyala, was once among those affected by visa delays at the embassy, ahead of his travel to Oregon for the World Athletics Championships.

    The US Embassy in Nairobi Kenya.