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General Information

The United States and the Republic of Kenya To Extend Visa Validity for Short-term Business Travelers, Tourists, and Students

The United States and the Republic of Kenya are scheduled to jointly increase the validity of short-term business/tourist visas and student visas issued to each other’s citizens on September 22, 2015. 

Kenyan applicants who qualify for a B-category nonimmigrant visa will be eligible to receive a multiple-entry visa for up to five years for business and tourist travel.  Qualified Kenyan students and their dependents who qualify for a F-category visa will be eligible for a multiple-entry student visa valid for up to five years or the length of their program. U.S. citizens eligible for Kenyan short-term business and tourist visas or student visas will be afforded the same benefit. 

Changes in visa validity will not affect visa eligibility criteria.  Visa applicants will be subject to the same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa as before the change in validity. 

The basic nonimmigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, remains unchanged at the current rate of 160 USD.  The MRV fee covers the costs associated with processing a U.S. visa application and is nonrefundable, whether the application is approved or refused. 

After the increase in visa validity goes into effect, qualified Kenyan B and F-category visa applicants will be required to pay an additional visa reciprocity fee, also known as a visa issuance fee, of 40 USD, before their visa will be issued.  This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee described above. While most visa applicants are required to pay the visa application fee, the reciprocity fee is only charged to an approved nonimmigrant visa applicant after the visa interview. 

Benefits of Visa Validity Extension: 

  • The reciprocal extension of visa validity to five years underscores the commitment of both the United States and the Republic of Kenya to promote bilateral trade and tourism, increase opportunities for people-to-people engagement, and enhance mutual understanding between our countries.  
  • This new arrangement will be more convenient and less costly for travelers.  Currently, Kenyan business travelers and tourists must apply annually if visiting the United States each year.  When this new arrangement goes into effect Kenyan citizens qualified for a short-term visa to visit the United States for business or tourism will only need to apply to renew their visa once every five years. 
  • Under the current arrangement, Kenyan students who depart the United States for short visits abroad are required to apply for new visas. Under the new arrangement, Kenyan students will find it easier and more convenient to return home because in many cases they will not be required to obtain new visas prior to returning to the United States to study, as long as they remain full-time students in good standing.

What is a Visa?

A visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and entitles the holder to travel to the United States and apply for admission; it does not guarantee entry.  An immigration inspector at the port of entry determines the visa holder's eligibility for admission into the United States.

Who Needs a Visa?

Anyone who is not eligible to enter the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Please note: Travelers born in the United States and those who hold dual citizenship with the United States must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.

What types of Visas are Available?

  • Non-immigrant: A Non-immigrant visa is required by anyone seeking temporary admission into the United States who is not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program , or is exempt from the visa requirement. Nonimmigrant visas cover visits for tourism, business, work or study.
  • Immigrant: An immigrant visa is required by anyone seeking to take up indefinite or permanent residence in the United States.  Upon entry into the United States, an immigrant visa holder is processed for a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) commonly known as a green card.

Who We are

The Office of Visa Services, in the Consular Affairs Bureau, Department of State provides several functions:

  • We serve as liaisons with the Department of Homeland Security
  • We serve as liaisons between the Department of State and embassies and consulates abroad on visa matters
  • We interpret visa laws and regulations, and act as a point of contact for the public

When to Contact Us vs. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Defining the different roles and responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State can be confusing. We hope this information will assist you:

Contact the Department of State, an embassy or consulate abroad with questions about U.S. visas, including application, the status of visa processing, and for inquiries relating to visa denial.

Visa Services, Public Inquiries can usually explain what aspects of immigration law and regulation are applicable in certain cases, and can also check the current status of a particular case, if processing has been delayed.

Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the approval of all immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the U.S. , the issuance of extensions of stay, and change or adjustment of an applicant's status while the applicant is in the U.S.

Questions about these matters should be referred to the US CIS district office having jurisdiction over the applicant's present or future place of domicile in the United States.