A few years ago, the Kenyan Directorate of Immigration Services launched an online portal to facilitate the convenient application of e-Visa, an electronically generated Republic of Kenya visa, for people traveling to Kenya.
The introduction of the e-Visa application portal in 2015 led to the abolishment of the issuance of visas on arrival, making the airport clearance process smooth and less time-consuming.
As much as the online application and processing of the e-Visa have made it easier for visitors coming to Kenya to get their visa on time, the process of getting the e-Visa is not totally devoid of challenges.
Below are some of the commonly encountered problems and challenges when obtaining the Republic of Kenya e-Visa and how to solve them.
1. Identifying the Official and Legitimate Websites for e-Visa Application
Quite a number of e-Visa applicants have fallen victim to fraudulent visa scam websites.
With most Kenyan government services moving online, it is not uncommon for fraudsters to take advantage of the new developments and defraud innocent visa applicants.
The scammers usually do this by cloning the original website or starting a website with a totally different domain, but still purporting to offer e-Visa services.
There are only two legitimate government websites that offer e-Visa application services:
- e-Visa Kenya website (evisa.go.ke)
- The integrated Kenyan government services e-Citizen website (https://immigration.ecitizen.go.ke/index.php?id=5).
The latter is not a website in itself but rather a web page in the online e-Citizen portal where persons can access and apply for Kenyan government services.
Any other website claiming to offer e-Visa processing services should be avoided in totality.
2. What the Application Process Entail
The e-Visa application process requires the applicant to open an account on the e-Visa online portal.
The account creation process is simple and requires one to input basic biodata in the fields displayed on the screen.
Once you have filled in the biodata, you can proceed to fill out the e-visa application form which you don’t have to download—you fill in the required information online.
Once you are done filling in the form, you proceed to pay using your Visa or Mastercard or cash option for the specified banking service providers.
Ensure to enter the correct amount of fees that match the type of e-Visa you’re applying for.
3. The Status of e-Visa Application
After successful application for the e-Visa, it is easy to track the status of your application via your e-Visa portal account.
If the visa is granted or not, one is able to know by checking the portal.
If the portal is not working, you can also contact immigration officers at the Directorate of Immigration via email, phone, or the verified social media handles to know the status of your application.
The last option, if all others do not work, you can visit the immigration offices in Nyayo House, Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi for in-person assistance.
4. How/Where to Collect the e-Visa
Once the e-Visa is ready for collection, the applicant can download and print it from the portal.
Alternatively, you can download and print a copy of the e-Visa which is sent to the email used to register your e-Visa account.
The main advantage of the email or portal copy is that in case of destruction or misplacement, you can still download and reprint the e-visa.
5. How to apply for a Minor’s e-Visa
If you are traveling to Kenya with a person under the age of majority (18 years), they also need a visit visa.
To apply for the young one’s e-visa, you (parent/guardian) can log on to the e-Visa account portal and apply for them.
It is worth noting that for Nationals in category 2 i.e, persons who need a visa to enter Kenya, children aged 16 and below do not pay for a visa to enter the country.
The e-Visa for such children is obtained free of charge.
6. Payment Error on the Portal
Sometimes, the payment button in the online portal account does not work properly and may display “error” when one attempts to make a payment.
This happens due to technical issues that affect the functionality of the portal from time to time.
The best thing to do if you encounter that kind of problem, and your visa application is not urgent, is to wait until normalcy is restored by the immigration technicians.
If it’s an urgent matter, then you can obtain the visa at the airport clearance on arrival in Kenya.
7. Travelling before the Visa Date
The e-Visa is valid only after it has been approved and issued.
Therefore, it is valid from the time of issuance up to 90 days post-issuance.
You can only travel within 90 days, that is, between the date of issuance and the expiry date.
The Visa is only valid upon issuance and before expiry.
That means the holder can only travel after the document is issued and before it expires.
8. Knowing Whether or Not you are Eligible for the Kenyan e-Visa
Nationals of most countries are eligible to apply for the Kenyan e-Visa.
Eligibility for the e-Visa depends on the category of Kenyan passport holders that the visa applicant belongs to.
Kenya passport holders are categorized into three namely:
- Category 1: nationals and persons who can enter Kenya Visa-free
- Category 2: a) nationals who require visas to get into Kenya
b) Nationals who are issued with visas upon application; visas processed within two working days
- Category 3: countries and persons who require referrals for visas; processed within ten working days
An e-Visa applicant can search their country of birth/residence for eligibility information at www.evisa.go.ke/eligibility to confirm the passport holder category and eligibility of their nationality for the e-Visa application.
9. “Exempt” and “Eligible” Nationalities
People from countries in category 1 of passport holders are exempt from visa requirements to get into Kenya.
Such countries usually have bilateral agreements with Kenya to allow their citizens to enter Kenya visa-free.
Eligible nationalities are for passport holders belonging to categories 2 and 3.
10. e-Visa Categories and Documents Required to Apply for Each
The e-Visa category you apply for must match the purpose of your visit to Kenya.
Picking on the wrong e-visa category during application can lead to one being barred from entering the country.
Below are the e-Visa categories you need to know:
- Single Entry Visa
- Transit Visa
- Courtesy Visa
- East Africa Tourist Visa
- Multiple Entry Visa
- 5-Year Multiple Entry Visa
For business-related activities, an applicant must attach a copy of an invitation by a company or a copy of a business registration certificate.
Tourist e-visa applicants are required to attach documents showing proof of travel itinerary and hotel bookings.
For family visitors, the applicant needs to attach a proof of invitation by family and at least one identification document of the host.
All e-visa categories require the applicant to attach a passport-size photo.
The introduction of the e-Visa portal by the Kenyan government in 2015 has made it easy and convenient for Kenyan Visa applicants to obtain the much-needed travel document.
Despite the positive impact, the e-visa acquisition process can get marred by a myriad of challenges as outlined above.
However, resolving e-Visa application issues is relatively easy as long as one has the relevant information on how to go about it.