US Embassy scraps interviews for some visa categories to reduce backlog


US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The United States Embassy in Nairobi has removed the interview requirements for some visa categories as it moves to reduce Covid-linked backlogs for nonimmigrant applications.

In a statement released on Friday, the Embassy said that it was expanding the interview waiver programme for nonimmigrant visas.

“Effective immediately, those applying for tourist/business (B1/B2), student (F,J,M), or crew visas (C1/D) categories may be eligible for a visa renewal without an interview,” the Embassy said in a statement posted on its official Twitter page.

Kenyans travelling to the US have in the past expressed frustrations on social media over what they term unfair visa rules.

“To qualify for this programme, you must be applying for the same visa category, and your visa cannot have expired more than four years ago. Formerly, the limit was one year,” the Embassy said.

Visa interview appointments take months and in most cases are not a guarantee of getting the crucial travel document.

Many have been forced to cancel travel plans over delays linked to Covid and the long application process that takes months in some cases even a year.

 Non-immigrant visa interviews at the Nairobi office ceased for over a year due to Covid-19 safety measures.

In July, the Embassy suspended appointments for visa interviews until June 2024 owing to high demand and Covid-linked backlogs but gave exceptions for emergencies such as the death of an immediate family member, people travelling for urgent medical care and students.

The new US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman last month pledged to expedite visa application process.

“This is one of my top priorities and I will be working very closely with the Consular staff here as well as the entire Embassy to see how we can address this issue as fast as possible,” she said last month.

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