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US Embassy scraps interviews for some visa categories to reduce backlog

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By Judith Gicobi

In an effort to decrease Covid-related backlogs for nonimmigrant applications, the US Embassy in Nairobi has eliminated the need for interviews for some visa categories.

The Embassy announced on Friday that it was expanding the program for nonimmigrant visas that waives interviews.

“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 who fly to the US have already voiced their anger on social media about what they perceive to be unjust visa requirements.

“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.

Appointments for visa interviews typically take months and one is not assured of obtaining the necessary travel document.

Many people have been compelled to postpone travel because of Covid delays and the lengthy application procedure, which can take months or even a year in extreme situations.

Due to Covid-19 safety precautions, non-immigrant visa interviews at the Nairobi office were suspended for more than a year.

Owing to increased demand and backlogs caused by Covid, the Embassy canceled appointments for visa interviews in July till June 2024.

However, they made exceptions for students, those traveling for direct family members who have passed away, and those in need of urgent medical care.

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Meg Whitman, who recently appointed the US ambassador to Kenya, promised to speed up the 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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