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Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the benefits of the visa validity extension?

    What are the benefits of the visa validity extension?

    • U.S. and Kenyan citizens who regularly travel back and forth between the United States and Kenya will benefit from the longer validity by not having to apply and pay the application fee every year. Businesses in both countries, including the tourism industry, will benefit from increased travel, investment, and business development opportunities between the two countries. Longer visa validity will allow students to return to their home countries during school and work holidays more easily.

  • Will these changes in visa validity affect fees?

    Will these changes in visa validity affect fees?

    • The basic non-immigrant visa application fee of 160 USD will remain the same and includes appointment scheduling and passport delivery services. However, 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. 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.

  • Will these changes affect processing times?

    Will these changes affect processing times?

    • We expect that these changes in visa validity will be very popular among Kenyan travelers. The U.S. Mission in Kenya is taking steps to handle a potential increase in visa workload and intends to keep visa processing times as short as possible.

  • Will changes in visa validity have any effect on visa eligibility?

    Will changes in visa validity have any effect on visa eligibility?

    • The same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa will apply as before this extension in validity.

  • Will these changes in visa validity affect visa applications subject to administrative processing?

    Will these changes in visa validity affect visa applications subject to administrative processing?

    • Changes in visa validity will not change the requirement that some applications will need additional administrative processing. As is true in all visa cases, when administrative processing is required, visa validity may vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

  • Will the increased visa validity allow me to stay longer in the United States?

    Will the increased visa validity allow me to stay longer in the United States?

    • It is important to note that visa validity is NOT the same as the allowed duration of stay. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port of entry where a Customs and Border Protection officer will grant admission to valid travelers. In doing so, the officer will inform the traveler of the permitted length of stay. The current change in visa validity does NOT change the permitted duration of stay for any visa class. Remaining in the United States beyond your allowed duration of stay can result in a violation of U.S. immigration laws and may cause you to be ineligible for travel to the United States in the future.

  • When is the right time to apply for this longer-validity visa?

    When is the right time to apply for this longer-validity visa?

    • The up-to five-year validity visa is not a temporary offer, but represents a long-term reciprocal commitment. While an applicant should generally apply well in advance of their anticipated travel date, an individual with a currently valid visa or with no current travel plan should not rush to apply.

  • If the visa currently in my passport has one year validity, does it now have a longer validity?

    If the visa currently in my passport has one year validity, does it now have a longer validity?

    • Existing visas will be valid only until the expiration date printed on the current visa. This extension does NOT increase the validity of visas already issued. To obtain a visa with extended validity, holders of valid or recently-expired visas will need to apply again.

  • Will U.S. citizens receive five-year tourism and business visitor visas in Kenya?

    Will U.S. citizens receive five-year tourism and business visitor visas in Kenya?

    • Because this is a reciprocal arrangement, the Kenyan government is committed to issuing visas valid for up to the same duration.

  • What happens if U.S. citizens aren't issued five-year tourist visas? Will anything change for Kenyan nationals?

    What happens if U.S. citizens aren't issued five-year tourist visas? Will anything change for Kenyan nationals?

    • The arrangement is based on reciprocity. Kenyan nationals will be afforded the same maximum validity for B-category visas as U.S. citizens are afforded when applying for an equivalent visa category.

  • Will dependent family members of students also be eligible for these increases in visa validity?

    Will dependent family members of students also be eligible for these increases in visa validity?

    • Yes, all qualified dependent family members of students will be eligible for these same increases in visa validity.

  • Can I apply for a five-year visa if I am a Kenyan national living in a country other than Kenya?

    Can I apply for a five-year visa if I am a Kenyan national living in a country other than Kenya?

    • Yes, maximum visa validity is determined by the reciprocity arrangement with the country that issued your passport and not the country in which you apply.

  • Why do so many people have their visa applications denied?

    Why do so many people have their visa applications denied?

    • This is actually a myth.  Despite the negative perceptions, the US Embassy issues more nonimmigrant visas than we refuse every year.
  • Why was my interview so short? The officer only talked to me for 5 minutes before he made a decision.

    Why was my interview so short? The officer only talked to me for 5 minutes before he made a decision.

    • We schedule 150 – 200 NIV appointments per day.  Given this volume, officers have to get right to the point and make a decision quickly – no time for small talk.  Their questions are carefully honed to get the information they need in the shortest amount of time.

      Most of the work of processing a visa is done before the interview even starts:  we verify the applicant’s identity, enter their biographic data into our system, take fingerprints, analyze biometric data, conduct security checks, screen required documents, and more.

      While applicants are waiting in the waiting room, we are busy working on their visa applications.  Applicants think that decisions are based solely on the 5-minute interview with an officer, but in fact, here in Kenya, the decision to issue or refuse a visa is only made after a team of 15 people have scrutinized the application for about two hours.

  • Why didn’t the officer look at my documents before making a decision?

    Why didn’t the officer look at my documents before making a decision?

    • Document fraud is rampant in Kenya so we cannot rely on local documents.  Rather than trying to sort out the good documents from the bad, officers base their decisions more on applicants’ answers to their questions than on any documents they might present.

      In almost all cases, the officer can make a determination based on the information provided by the applicant in the application form and during the interview.

  • Why are the fees so high?

    Why are the fees so high?

    • The US Embassy does not make money off visa fees. The fees only cover all of the costs of providing the service. Most of the fees are used to cover security procedures and fraud prevention features.

      Application fees cover also the cost of physical security – the guards, the metal detectors, the blast walls – that we employ to keep ourselves and our applicants safe while they are in our building.

      The high level of visa fraud here in Kenya and around the world makes everyone’s visas more expensive. To combat visa fraud here in Kenya, we have had to hire 5 full-time staff members. We also have to employ the latest technologies to produce state-of-the-art visas. Our visas have dozens of security features built in to them to prevent forgers and counterfeiters from altering or reproducing them illegally. Application fees cover the costs of producing high quality, fraud- resistant visas.

  • Why aren’t fees refunded when the visa is refused?

    Why aren’t fees refunded when the visa is refused?

    • Applicants pay an application fee, not an issuance fee.

      As explained above, most of the work required to process a visa is done before the interview.  We do virtually the same amount of work whether an applicant is issued a visa or refused a visa. 

      By the time an applicant is refused a visas, most of the work of processing the visa has already been done.