The United States Department of State has postponed the date for the increase of worldwide visa fees to June 17 from the earlier pronounced date of May 30, amid a public outcry that will see some applicants pay up to Ksh42,000 ($303) to acquire the travel document.
The increase of the fees in ranges between seven and 53 percent, which was first announced on May 3, was attributed to the rising costs of processing the travel document.
The categories affected include business and tourist visas (categories B1/B2S), students (F) and exchange visitor visas (J) which will increase from Ksh21,800 ($160) to Ksh25,206 ($185), while visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will cost Ksh27,941 ($205) from Ksh25,897 ($190).
The fee for treaty traders, investors, and applicants in a specialty occupation (E category) will increase from Ksh27,941 ($205) to Ksh42,934 ($315) in the changes.
“Individuals who already paid the existing, lower NIV fee will not have to pay the difference once the fee increases on June 17, 2023. All NIV fee payments made on or after October 1, 2022, are valid for 365 days. Receipts for NIV fees paid before October 1, 2022, will continue to be valid until September 30, 2023,” said the Nairobi-based US Embassy in a Wednesday dispatch.
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The embassy acknowledged the critical importance that international travel plays in the US economy noting that visas especially for work and tourism are central to President Joe Biden’s foreign policy and insisted that the charges are only meant to recover the costs of providing the consular services.
This is the first time since 2014 that the fees for non-immigrant visas are being increased.
The embassy has been contending with a huge backlog of visa interviews following halting of the process in 2020 as part of the safety measures introduced at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, the embassy slashed the waiting period for visa interviews for visiting Kenyans and allowed renewal of some categories without going for physical appointments.