The US has said it will not issue county government officials with special visas following a review of visa requirements by the US embassy.
The US embassy has through a letter to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it will only issue special visas (category A) only to officials of the national government, travelling to the United States for official business, limited to their spouses and unmarried children only.
“The Embassy of the United States of America has informed the ministry that the official visa status (A visa category) will only apply to officials travelling to USA on behalf of the national government and their immediate family members (spouse and unmarried sons and daughters),” read the letter signed by director, parliament and county affairs, E.M. Barine on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs principal secretary.
County officials will now be categorized under “visitors” category and will not qualify for the special visa whether travelling on a diplomatic passport or not and will be issued with a category B1/B2 visa just like any other travelers in the US, visiting for business, tourism, leisure or visiting.
The county officials now are required to follow the usual process of visa application, including physical appearance at the embassy for interviews, finger prints and payments of visa fees.
The US also requires government officials travelling to the United States to perform non-governmental functions of a commercial nature, or travelling as tourists to obtain appropriate visas that are not of category A.
“The fact that there may be government interest or control in a given organisation is not in itself the defining factor in determining if you qualify for an A visa,” the visa instructions say.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already sent a memo to the devolved government units notifying them of the change of policy.