From December 1, 2018, Kenyans travelling to South Africa will be issued multiple entry visas valid for up to 10 years. This is in line with South Africa’s latest decision to scrap short-term visa requirements for Kenyans. The decision is the outcome of an extensive meeting between Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i and South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in Pretoria on Monday.
According to the new directive, Kenyan government officials travelling on official business to South Africa will be granted a three-month free visa, effective as at the time the announcement was made. Kenyans studying in South Africa will be issued study visas based on the duration of the subjects studied, subject to renewal if and when the need arises. While frequent travellers will be eligible for a 3-year multiple entry visa.
South Africa’s former visa requirements restricted Kenyans to single-entry visas. But the with the latest development, Kenyans will be able to travel to South Africa as often as they want in the next 10 years from December 1st. The new directive will help to open up business and tourism for both countries, especially as Kenya Airways already conducts an average of three non-stop flights to South Africa daily.
According to the Kenyan government, the agreement reflects the doctrine of reciprocity after Kenya set up a more responsive and straightforward online application process for short-term visas for visitors from all African countries, in a bid to foster Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity.
Currently, Kenya grants visa-free travels to other Africans who are visiting for a period fewer than 30 days while those intending to stay longer are issued visas on arrival at the point of entry or online via the e-visa platform. This promotes ease of doing business with other countries and saves time on visa applications.
According to reports, both countries have been in talks over South Africa’s visa restrictions. “Both countries have been working on thawing frosty relations on immigration policies which saw Kenya at one point threaten to re-introduce visa application to South Africans before travelling or transiting through the country to retaliate on the stringent requirements its citizens were being subjected to,” reports Africa Business Communities.
In line with the new directive, technical officers from both countries have been given a three-month task to reduce, and eventually, remove the 180 days short-term travel restriction for nationals with ordinary passports from both countries. Also, both countries have agreed to work together to combat illegal immigration and protect the integrity of their travel documents. Kenya has already started automating its immigration services, digitally documenting immigration records and establishing the e-passport system.