June 24, 2024
US Ambassador Pledges To Enhance Spousal Visa Application Process For Kenyans

US Ambassador Pledges To Enhance Spousal Visa Application Process For Kenyans

Meg Whitman, the US Ambassador to Kenya, has reassured Kenyans experiencing long wait times for spousal visas, stating that the US administration is aggressively tackling the delays that have lasted for years.

During an interview with Spice FM on Wednesday, May 15, Whitman expressed optimism that the government is working to streamline the application process to make it easier to access, with improvements expected by the end of this year.

Acknowledging the frustrations experienced by visa applicants, Whitman stated, “There are good resolutions coming up by the end of the year.”

She ascribed the difficulties mostly to processing delays, emphasizing that it is not the fault of the applicants, but rather the result of continuous personnel shortages throughout consular offices globally, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the waiting period for CR1 visas is 13.5-15 months for spouses of US citizens and 29-40 months for spouses of Green Card holders. Kenya ranks third in terms of US visa denials, according to data released in April of this year.

Whitman reaffirmed her commitment to leading efforts to shorten these lengthy wait times, recognizing the hardships faced by separated families.

“We have made good progress on it but not enough,” she remarked, urging patience as the U.S. Embassy in Kenya works to streamline the process.

Whitman defended visa fees, stressing the need for a robust vetting process.

She emphasized the imperative of stringent security measures, stating, “And you are very aware of the cost of being wrong like letting in the 9-11 hijackers.”

Last year, the US Embassy in Nairobi changed the interview procedures for various visa categories in order to reduce COVID-related backlogs among non-immigrant applicants.

Notably, the embassy increased the interview waiver program for some visa categories, such as tourist/business (B1/B2), student (F, J, M), or crew (C1/D) visas, for qualified applicants seeking renewals without an in-person meeting.

However, the extended wait times have impacted Kenyans, particularly those seeking B1/B2 visas for business or pleasure who do not have a previous permit that is eligible for renewal.

Exceptions are provided for emergency travel reasons, such as urgent medical care or the death of a close member.

Kenyans seeking student visas already benefit from a policy move by the US State Department that simplified visa application processes by eliminating the need for interviews and extending the application deadline from 120 days to a year.

Ambassador Whitman reaffirmed ongoing efforts to minimize wait times for all visa categories, noting progress while realizing the distance yet to be covered.

“I think we are making good progress. Is it where we want to be, no, but we are making good progress,” she stated.

US Ambassador Pledges To Enhance Spousal Visa Application Process For Kenyans

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