By Judith Gicobi
The European Union (EU) has denied claims that it has imposed new limitations that would increase the cost of visas for Kenyans intending to visit Europe.
According to reports in various media publications, a number of European nations have amended their visa policies to include stricter requirements and higher application fees.
In the widely circulated reports, new visa costs had been enacted by EU member states. For instance, according to the sources, a Kenyan adult traveling to the US via Amsterdam must pay Ksh10,500 at the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi or one of its representatives in order to secure a Schengen transit visa.
In addition to paying Ksh18,824, they also paid for an American visa. The implication was that Kenyan travelers would spend up to Ksh29,000 simply for a visa, without even buying a ticket.
According to the embassies of the European Union, Germany, and Spain, Kenyans with transit visas for the Schengen area won’t need to get new visas as long as they remain at the airport.
However, they pointed out that if Kenyan travelers leave the airport grounds, they will require a Schengen Visa.
“You don’t need a visa as long as you stay in the airport transit areas. However, if you have a combination ticket that requires you to exit the airport, then you will need a Schengen entry visa,” EU made the clarification.
A Schengen visa is a short-stay pass that enables travel to any Schengen member country for stays of up to 90 days for either leisure or business.
The most prevalent visa for Europe is the Schengen visa. It permits its holder, including Kenyans, to enter, freely move around the Schengen area, and depart from any of the Schengen member nations. Within the Schengen Area, there are no border restrictions.
Kenyans, however, must apply for a national visa of that European country rather than a Schengen Visa if they intend to study or reside in one of the Schengen countries for longer than 90 days.
This clarification was made only a few months after the UK changed its standards when blacklisting universities from Kenya.