Kenya suspends ‘reciprocal’ visa requirements for South African visitors

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Kenya+Moi+internationalVISA requirements for South Africans travelling to Kenya, which were to be implemented from next month, have been suspended for now and both governments are in negotiations about the matter.

This is according to Kenya’s High Commission in South Africa.

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Kenya slapped strict visa requirements on visitors from South Africa in June, citing the “principle of reciprocity”.

But for now, South Africans visiting Kenya for up to 30 days do not require visas.

Though Kenyans have always needed visas prior to entering South Africa, the latter has implemented stricter immigration controls in recent months. This has not gone down well with the Kenyan authorities.

Should Kenya’s new rules still come into effect, South Africans would need to have a return air ticket and to pay a service charge of $70 each time they apply for a visa.

Changes suspended

In addition, a pplicants would need letters of invitation, proof of funds available and to appear in person for biometrics during a visa application. This would have to be done at the Kenyan embassy in South Africa, changing the arrangement where South Africans visiting Kenya obtained visas at the point of entry.

The Kenyan High Commission said this week that visa requirements for South Africans, which had been due to come into effect on September 1, had been suspended “until further notice”.

A spokesperson said the suspension was in place while “the two governments are negotiating”.

The South African Department of Home Affairs failed to respond to requests for more information on Wednesday. But t he Democratic Alliance’s Home Affairs spokesman Haniff Hoosen welcomed Kenya’s move as a “positive step”.

He urged the South African government to reciprocate.

Real impact analysis

South Africa’s new visa regulations would have a negative effect on the tourism industry. While Home Affairs had allowed for public consultation, “there wasn’t any real impact analysis done before they went ahead and implemented the new regulations,” Mr Hoosen said.

“The Department of Home Affairs should have put much more time and effort into studying the impacts of the new regulations before introducing them.”

He said a number of countries had “expressed their concern about the new visa regulations ”.

In terms of South Africa’s new immigration regulations effective from May, tourists with children should carry copies of their unabridged birth certificates. In addition, single parents now needed an affidavit from the other biological parent.

The new regulations require foreign nationals applying for a South African residency permit to pay fees equal to the cost of deporting them to their home country. Those planning to visit South Africa must submit their documents and biometric details, among other things, in their country of origin.

-bdlive.co.za/

Tourists arrive at Moi International Airport in Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa. Picture: REUTERS

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