Reprieve for Kenyans seeking e-passports in the US

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Kenyans in the United States of America will now be able to re-apply for their e-passports at the Kenyan Consulate in Los Angeles, California.

The Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC confirmed in a Statement May 20, that the LA Consulate had been approved to process the new generation e-passports.

The DC embassy however called on Kenyans to be patient as the Kenyan government was setting up the necessary infrastructure in the LA consulate for the e-passport processing.

The comes months after Paddy Mwembu, a Kenyan living in the US, filed a petition urging President Uhuru Kenyatta to order the processing of digital passports at the Los Angeles consulate.

Mwembu, a resident of California, argued that nearly half of the Kenyans living in the US were on the West Coast and that that justified the need for a passport application Centre in LA.

He said it made no economic sense travelling to Washington DC, which was miles away, for processing of e-passport biometrics only.

He explained that the travel covered an extreme distance and the Kenyans in the West Coast incurred prohibitive costs, in the petition that gathered over 1000 signatures.

The LA consulate currently offers several services to Kenyans including the processing of birth certificates and identity cards and Kenyans could soon apply for their e-passports there.

Kenya has been phasing out the old-generation passports as the government launched the the e-passport in August 2017 and initially set a September 2019 deadline for everyone to ditch the old generation document.

But pressure from the public forced the government to extend the deadline to March 2021 and again to December 31, 2021.

As of February this year, about .8 million Kenyans, mostly in the diaspora, had not replaced their passports according to the Immigration Department.

No Kenyan will be able to travel internationally without a valid East African Community biometric e-passport starting January 1, 2022.


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