Nairobi — The United States Embassy in Nairobi now says delays in VISA processing was as a result of backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While stating that the earliest date for those applying for the US visitor visa interviews in Nairobi is from June 2024, the embassy indicated that this is a worldwide problem that is being addressed.
“As we work through the backlog of applications and address the high demand for services, we recognize that some applicants may face extended visa interview wait times. This is a worldwide problem,” a statement from the embassy indicated.
It pointed out that as a result of this, the embassy has doubled the number of daily interviews for visa applications and also increased its staff to cope with the increased capacity.
“This has necessitated the embassy to make some changes in the visa application process as the current visa interview wait times will now reflect on their updated page with emphasis on the nonrefundable fee to enable applicants to make informed decisions before submitting their applications.” It stated.
The embassy further explained that the consulate has also introduced a visa renewal process that does not require an in-person interview for those renewing visitor (B1/B2) visas and student visas (F category) whose visas expired less than a year.
It stated that it will consider urgent cases such as student visas and urgent medical care.
“We offer expedited appointments for emergency situations, including 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,” stated the Embassy.
The consulate however assured Kenyans that it will take the necessary steps to reduce the visa interview wait time as soon as possible.
The embassy’s response follows a complaint by a Kenyan doctor who wrote an open letter to the US envoy to Kenya Margaret Whitman, over inordinately long periods the country’s embassy takes to consider visa applications.
Elizabeth Wala also expressed deep concern over the huge sums of money charged in visa applications fees that are forfeited by unsuccessful visa applicants or successful applicants who fail to utilize visas granted long after their purpose of intended travel to the United States.
Wala referenced an incident where one of her daughters was due to travel to the United States for a school competition only for her to be slotted for an interview in 2024 after paying the USD240 visa application fee.
“In June 2022, one of my daughters qualified to attend The World Scholar’s Cup Global Round in Dubai, a debate and creative writing competition. I scraped and scrounged, and she attended the competition. She, thereafter, qualified for the grand finale called the Theatre of Champions in Yale, USA to be held in November 2022,” she stated.