New visa amendments ease travel between Kenya and SA

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Cape Town – Discussions held between Kenya’s Minister of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government of Kenya, Joseph Nkaissery, and SA’s Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, will see travel regulations eased between the two countries’ borders.

One of the main adjustments to the visa regulations will see an issuing of a three-year multiple entry visa for frequent travellers. Visa service fees have also been decreased by more than R300.

In July 2015, South Africa’s controversial visa regulations, which required Kenyans to submit applications for clearance to travel and wait for seven working days to confirm whether a visa would be issued, was described as a violation of bilateral agreement between the countries, according to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohammed.

Such issues has been resolved and improved according to the Department of Home Affairs, following Minister Gigaba’s three-day visit to the country from 2 to 4 May.

During the visit, the two Ministers “opened an important door to the establishment of a high-level strategic dialogue that will ensure issues are resolved amicably and expeditiously,” the DHA said.

The following decisions regarding travel between Kenya and South Africa were taken: 

•         Visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports

•         A decrease in the service fee. Fees have been decreased from $71 to $49, a downscale of $22, or about R300.

•         The issuing of three year multiple entry visas for frequent travellers

•         Issuing of study visas for the duration of students’ study periods (including extending permanent residents to those studying in the critical skill categories)

•         Removal of transit visa for travellers transiting through South African airports

•         Ten year multiple entry visas for frequent business travellers and academics

The latter, awarding frequent African business travellers multiple entry visas, also formed part of South Africa’s previous visa regulation adjustment which aims to spur business travel on the African continent.

The new flight route between Kenya’s Nairobi and Cape Town in SA, taking off in July this year, will be a certain hit for travellers, especially considered along the eased visa regulations.

Kenya is in the process of easing visa regulations for travellers from all over, to enhance tourism in the country.

In January this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to waive visa fees for children under the age of 16. While this move will still require visa regulations to be in place for minors to obtain access into the country, there will be no costs involved.

The country also launched e-visas for UK and Irish travellers in July last year, which raised the question why the DHA in South Africa was making visa requirements to the country more strict.

Regarding the new eased regulations between Kenya and SA, the DHA says they will continue meet with representatives of the Kenyan/South African private sector with a view to learning the challenges faced by the Kenyan business community in their travels to South Africa as well as exchanging views on how to ease the business people’s visa requests.

They said they will continue to discuss ways to ease travel between the two countries.

The announcement of adjustments to the visa regulations between Kenya and SA comes after Gigaba’s three – day official visit to Kenya from 2 to 4 May this year.   Contact for advise and information.