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USA Visa Requirements For Kenyan Citizens

by Victor Matara

All Kenyan citizens travelling to the USA need to have a visa in order to be allowed to enter the country.  However, the nature of the visit determines the type of visa one can apply. They are divided into two categories; Immigrant and non-Immigrant visas.  Immigrant Visas are given to Kenyans who want to live permanently in the United States while non-immigrant visas are given to Kenyan citizens who want to visit the USA for a temporary purpose.

1. Non-Immigrant  ( Temporary) Visas

These type of visas is usually applied by Kenyans visiting the USA for a short period of time i.e for business, medical, tourist, visiting family,  student, transit visas or even visas to carry out religious work. They are valid for up to 6 months.

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

Purpose of Travel

Visa Category

Required: Before applying for visa*

Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)

B-1

(NA)

Au pair (exchange visitor)

J

SEVIS

Australian professional specialty

E-3

DOL

Border Crossing Card: Mexico

BCC

(NA)

Business visitor

B-1

(NA)

CNMI-only transitional worker

CW-1

(USCIS)

Crewmember

D

(NA)

Diplomat or foreign government official

A

(NA)

Domestic employee or nanny - must be accompanying a foreign national employer

B-1

(NA)

An employee of a designated international organization or NATO

  G1-G5, NATO

(NA)

Exchange visitor

J

SEVIS

Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States

A-2
NATO1-6

(NA)

Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics

O

USCIS

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
Chile, Singapore

H-1B1 - Chile
H-1B1 - Singapore

DOL

International cultural exchange visitor

Q

USCIS

Intra-company transferee

L

USCIS

Medical treatment, visitor for

B-2

(NA)

Media, journalist

I

(NA)

NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada

TN/TD

(NA)

Performing athlete, artist, entertainer

P

USCIS

Physician

J, H-1B

SEVIS

Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)

J

SEVIS

Religious worker

R

USCIS

Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge

H-1B

DOL then USCIS

Student: academic, vocational

F, M

SEVIS

Temporary agricultural worker

H-2A

DOL then USCIS

Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.

H-2B

DOL then USCIS

Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor

B-2

(NA)

Training in a program not primarily for employment

H-3

USCIS

Treaty trader/treaty investor

E

(NA)

Transiting the United States

C

(NA)

Victim of Criminal Activity

U

USCIS

Victim of Human Trafficking

T

USCIS

Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)

V

(NA)

 

 

Before applying got a visa at the U.S. Embassy or consulate, the following may be required:

  1. DOL – The U.S. employer must obtain a foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
  2. USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
  3. SEVIS – Program approval entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  4. (NA) = Not Applicable – Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa.

1. Visitor Visa 

Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for Kenyans who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2)

Documents  Required Before Applying For A USA Visa For Kenyan Citizens 

1.Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States. Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.

2.  Duly filled and signed Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in this Photograph Requirements.

3.  Your Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160.

4. The purpose of your trip

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.

5. Financial records and statements showing your ability to pay all costs of the trip and during your stay in the United States.

If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

6. Your intent to depart the United States after your trip. You must have return tickets to show they intend on leaving the United States according to the dates they have mentioned and validate the duration of stay.

7. You must not have any prior criminal cases or any ongoing cases

8.  Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously traveled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years.

9. Resume or Curriculum Vitae – You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history.

10.  Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.

How to Apply

1.  Complete the Online Visa Application here and print the application form DS-160  which you will be required to carry to the interview.  During the filling form DS-160, you will be required to upload your photo which must meet these photo requirements. 

Please take your time and care to answer all questions on the DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment.

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2. Schedule an Interview

All Kenyan applicants are required to schedule an interview as part of Visa application.  Interviews are scheduled at the Kenyan USA Embassy which is located along the United Nations Avenue in Nairobi.

An officer at the USA Embassy will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive the appropriate visa for your travel. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken during the process. Usually, the interview takes up to 10 minutes long.

Note: The waiting time for an interview at the USA Embassy in Kenya is 30 days according to the latest announcement from the embassy.

If you are age:

Then an interview is:

13 and younger

Generally not required

14-79

Required (some exceptions for renewals)

80 and older

Generally not required

 

 

 

Below are the estimated wait time for different visas. Advance travel planning and early visa application are important

Non-immigrant Visa Type

Appointment Wait Time

Visitor Visa

1 Calendar Day

Student/Exchange Visitor Visas

1 Calendar Day

All Other Non-immigrant Visas

1 Calendar Day

 

USA Visa fees for Kenyan Citizens 

You will be required to pay a non-refundable fee of  $160.00 for the non-immigrant visa processing.  This is payable via Mpesa using the Paybill number 100202. You will show the Mpesa transaction message as proof of payment at the embassy.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.

USA Visa Processing Time in Kenya

The USA visa processing time is 2 days in Kenya.

Note

  •  Applicants for non- immigrant visas are not allowed to accept employment or work in the United States during the visit.
  • There is no guarantee you will be issued with a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

2. USA Student Visas for Kenyan Citizens

These type of visas are issued to Kenyan citizens who wish to study in the United States of America.Visas for New students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.  However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa more than 30 days before the start date. Continuing students can be issued with a visa any time as long as the student is currently enrolled at a SEVP-approved school or institution and in SEVIS.  Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before classes start.

How to Apply 

1. Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application by filling and completing Form DS-160 then print the application form at the end which you will bring to the interview. During this process, remember to upload your photo which must meet these photo format requirements.

You must gather and prepare the following required documents before your student visa interview:

1. You must have a Kenyan passport which must be valid at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.

2. Duly completed and signed Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160.

3. Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.

4. Your Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in this Photograph Requirements.

5. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20 – Your school will send you a Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20.  All students must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend to live in the United States with you, will each receive an individual Form I-20.

During the interview at the Kenyan USA Embassy, the officer interviewing you may ask for the following documents :

  • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended
  • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school
  • A proof of your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study and How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

After confirming you have all the required documents, schedule an interview and make sure you have the non-refundable visa application fee of  $160.  It will take 2 working days to process your Visa. ( Please refer to  above Visitor Visa for additional details)

USA Embassy Kenya Contacts 

US Embassy in Kenya is located along the United Nations Avenue in Nairobi.

Phone: +254 20 363-6000

Fax: +254 20 363-6157

P. O. Box 606 Village Market

Twitter: @USEmbassyKenya

Facebook: U.S. Embassy Nairobi

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