- Kenya Visa For Us Citizens
- Kenyan Embassy In The Us To Provide Mobile Consular Services: Hundreds Of Passports In Us Ready For Pick Up
Kenya Visa For Us Citizens – Are you planning an international trip? Congratulations! Many essential preparations for the trip remain ahead. Ensuring that your passport is up to date and that you have the necessary travel visas are two important ingredients for success. Not having them can be a recipe for a disastrous trip, and I should know that!
Yes, I have had “visa errors” – TWICE! – That really ruined my travel plans. Although they happened a long time ago, the painful memories still linger. That’s why I want to make sure you never get turned away at an airport (like me!) because your paperwork isn’t in order.
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The topic of travel visas can be a little complex due to so many variables, but I hope to give you a good foundation to ensure you get the right visas. Some of the details focus on American travelers, but the principles apply to everyone. So here’s what you really need to know about visas, including the story of my two mishaps!
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Basically, a visa is a stamp that a foreign government places in your passport, allowing you to enter their country for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose, such as tourism or business. Regulations vary greatly from country to country and also depend on your country of citizenship.
For example, many countries grant American travelers an “automatic” visa upon entry, often for between 30 and 90 days. In this case, you are officially considered a “short-stay visitor.” Others require that you obtain a “formal” travel visa in advance through your embassy (or one of the consulate offices) in your home country. This may also include “visa on arrival”.
Different types of visas are issued, depending on the purpose of your visit. The Tourist Visa – which we focus on here – is for leisure trips. There are also business (i.e. work) visas and student visas for studying abroad. Then there is the whole category of immigration and naturalization visas. Some countries also offer transit visas, designed for very short stays, for travelers heading somewhere else.
For example, the Australia transit visa allows you to stay in the country for no more than 72 hours. That particular visa has no fee compared to the $15 ($20 AUD) fee for an Australian tourist visa. However, you may want to apply for the tourist visa if your travel plans fit within that 72-hour window, allowing for possible flight delays or schedule changes.
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Ah ha, the $64,000 question! Fortunately, it’s pretty easy for Americans thanks to the US State Department’s excellent website with its international travel page. On that page, in the “In this section” box, click the “Country information” link. There, at the top left, you will see a box titled “
.” Simply type the country you will visit and a new page will appear with useful travel-related information for that country.
The “Quick Facts” page will tell you the country’s requirements for passport validity, blank passport pages, and whether a tourist visa is required. Then, below, click on the “Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements” link for more specific visa instructions. It will also have a link to the country’s embassy website where you will definitely want to check the most up-to-date visa information, including fees.
If you are traveling with a group on a tour or cruise, you will most likely receive specific travel visa information from them. But it never hurts to double-check the State Department website and that of the embassy of the country you’ll be visiting. Visa requirements can change, so you want to make sure you have the most recent information. And read everything very carefully!
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Until recently, Americans only needed a passport – but not a visa – to travel to most European countries. Specifically, countries in the Schengen Area – a coalition of 26 mostly European countries as far north as Norway and as far south as Greece – allow American tourists to visit for up to 90 days without a visa.
However, as of this writing, there has been some significant friction in relations between the United States and Europe with rumors of a possible “visa war.” Apparently in response to the United States tightening visa-free travel for some new EU countries, Europe has threatened to start requiring visas for American travelers. I write this here as a warning, to make sure you are aware of the latest developments from those in the know.
Australia / Brazil / Cambodia / China / Ghana / India / Jordan / Kenya / Myanmar (Burma) / Russia / Tanzania / Turkey / Vietnam
Well, once you’ve learned that you need a visa for the country (or several countries) you’ll be visiting, now what? Next, you need to determine what “visa application methods” that country requires or accepts.
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Some require you to apply for the visa in advance, usually by sending your completed application form (with passport, photographs, visa fee, etc.) to that country’s embassy or one of its consulates. (
). You can also personally deliver your application if one of the offices is located in the city or area where you live.
More and more countries, such as Australia and Turkey, have adopted (or are adopting) high technology with an e-visa system. I recently made this for both places! Travelers complete the visa application online. Once approved, your Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa is electronically linked to your passport. You will also receive a PDF document of the visa approval that you must print and carry with you. Finally, many countries offer the convenience of a “visa on arrival” at the port of entry.
The fees for a Tourist Visa vary depending on the nationality of the passport holder. For Americans, there is a wide range of rates, from $15 to $150 or more. Apparently, there may be a kind of diplomatic “tit for tat” between countries. When the United States raised the visa fee for Chinese travelers, China in turn raised the fee for Americans! Brazil’s website sarcastically states that the visa fee is
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“US$160.00, charged in reciprocity for an identical fee paid by Brazilian citizens applying for a tourist visa for the United States.”
You can usually download the application form from the country’s embassy website, along with detailed instructions. Be diligent and make sure you fill out the form completely and exactly as requested, and don’t forget to sign it. Valuable time would be lost if your application was rejected for being incomplete and you would have to start over.
Prepare your package of requested items to mail to the Embassy or Consulate office. These usually include the completed application form, your passport, 1 or 2 photographs, the visa fee (
), and any other documentation they request, such as copies of airline tickets or your travel itinerary.
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Some countries also require that you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope so they can mail your passport and visa to you. With both this envelope and the initial shipping of your package to the embassy, be sure to use a secure and trackable shipping method. You certainly don’t want your passport or visa to get lost in the mail. Definitely a travel nightmare!
The “visa on arrival” is a very convenient method of obtaining a Tourist Visa. I have done this many times when entering a country, usually through its international airport, including Nepal, Cambodia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Laos (
This is how it generally works. Beforehand, check the latest requirements on the embassy website and download the visa form, if available. Be sure to check if you need to bring passport-sized photographs. Also check the amount of the visa fee and if it can be paid in US dollars.
After arriving in the country and disembarking, follow the line to immigration, where you will first go to the “visa on arrival” windows. It’s a good idea to complete your visa formalities early, so you can avoid some of your fellow travelers who are still doing theirs. This is especially useful if your plane has dropped off a large number of passengers at once at one of the smaller foreign airports with limited staff working in this area.
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You often hand over the required visa, passport and photographs documentation at the first window. Sometimes you pay the visa fee here. Then you wait and when the visa finishes processing, they call your name. Normally you collect your passport along with the visa at a second window.
Caution: Please check carefully in advance which “ports of entry” (airports and land border crossings) offer the visa on arrival, as it may not be available at all of them. Even if you can get this type of visa at the airport, land border crossings may be understaffed and equipped to handle this.
This is another important area to pay close attention to – and what caused one of my visa mistakes! It seems that most visas offer single and multiple entry (or possibly double entry) options. Most of the time, you will only need a “single entry”
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