NAIROBI, Kenya, July 19 – The UK government will from December 31 this year move its visa processing section in Nairobi to Pretoria, South Africa.
A document by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) seen by Capital FM News indicates all the visa processing operations will be done in South Africa, a move expected to affect the region’s citizens who send their applications for British visas to the Nairobi section.
“Between 16 July and 31 December, visa applications from East and Central Africa will be transferring to other hubs. The spokes will transfer by 30 September to Pretoria and Kenyan applications will go to Pretoria by 31 December,” the document states.
However, the Nairobi section will remain open but “will only deal with Kenyan official and diplomatic applications, priority visas, compassionate and urgent medical cases.”
Other applications that will still be processed in Nairobi will be official applications from the region through local missions, gateway applications and management of the teleperformance contract.
The move creates fears of possible changes like time taken to process the documents and other limitations.
But according to Head of Communications at the British High Commission in Nairobi Stephen Burns, there will be no changes in how the applications are done but maintains that the ‘back office’ processing of the visas will be done in South Africa.
“Essentially for Kenyan applicants things don’t change. They will continue to make applications at the visa centre in Nairobi. The processing time won’t change and also the cost won’t change,” Burns told Capital FM News.
The move is also expected to a see reduction of members of staff working at the Nairobi visa section from the current 38 to seven. Between now and then, staff will leave in phases to match the reduction in intake.
Members of staff in UK-based slots will leave for other positions oversees or for posts in the UK while the locally engaged posts will be reduced through what they term as voluntary and compulsory redundancy schemed between now and December 31.
The changes come at a time where there has been tensions between Kenya and UK especially after the latter issued travel advisories following recent terror threats in Kenya.
But the UKVI says the changes are not in any way related to the security situation in Kenya but are primarily administrative measures.
“This removal of staff from the BHC platform and the transfer of our intake to another hub is keeping with UKVI’s strategic direction to operate fewer overseas hubs,” the document reads.