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US Extends Kenyan Visa Validity

The United States of America has increased the validity of Visa for the Kenyan citizens. This new scheme shall cover tourists, business executives and students.

The deal was signed by President Barack Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta. The new visa validity will begin from last week of the September.

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As per the deal, the applicants from the Republic of Kenya those who qualify for non-immigrant visa will also have opportunity for the multiple-entry visa for five years. There is also a provision for the dependents who if qualified the student visa, can be eligible for a multiple-entry student visa, valid for five years.

According to the statement released by the embassy, “U.S. citizens eligible for Kenyan short-term business and tourist visas or student visas will be afforded the same benefit. Changes in visa validity will not affect visa eligibility criteria. Visa applicants will be subject to the same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa as before the change in validity.”

The deal was announced on July 25 this year in Nairobi by the US President Barack Obama. He said that in order to ease the visa validity between two countries, the process will be streamlined and there will be five-year extension of the visa validity. “We will extend student and business visas for up to five years for Kenyans travelling to the United States and for Americans travelling to Kenya. This will make it easier for students to complete their studies and for businesses to make long-term plans,” he added. The extension process shall benefit both the countries in terms of trade partnership. It is meant to promote a healthy bilateral trade and tourism, and provide better engagement among citizens of both the countries.

Kenyan visa applicants will have to pay an extra amount of USD 40 (Sh4, 000) towards the ‘reciprocity fee’ above the normal fees once their visa extension application is through. As per the current practice, Kenyan business travelers and tourists are supposed to apply every year if they intend to visit the United States. But under the new scheme, they are only required to renew their visa once every five years. Students departing US for short visits abroad were earlier required to apply for a new visa. But with the new visa program, they can use the same visa as long as they continue as a full-time student.

The extension of visa validity was a big concern for Kenyans. They had earlier requested for more relaxed regime between the two countries. The problem they used to face was renewing their visa every year. It was not cost effective. If one fails to comply, his or her visa status was squashed and they were prohibited from entering the US for three to 10 years in a row. But under the new scheme, they have much more flexibility. Moreover, the new visa scheme is friendly.

The US Embassy in Nairobi has mentioned in their website that the changes in visa validity will not affect visa eligibility criteria.  Visa applicants will be subject to the same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa as before the change in validity.