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Immigration boss warns Kenyans on passport application

The Directorate of Immigration Services has cautioned passport applicants against using brokers in an attempt to skip the e-citizen appointment system.

In a statement, Immigrations Director-General Alexander Muteshi said anyone who opts to go through brokers will not have their documents approved.

“The public is strongly advised to avoid engaging brokers who use unorthodox means to attempt to bypass the e-citizen appointment system. We have in place measures to detect these attempts and no service will be rendered to such cases,” said Mr. Muteshi in a statement.

The majority of passport applicants have always complained that they are forced to pay bribes to the long appointment dates available on the e-citizen platform.

An investigation in 2018 revealed the frustrations Kenyans seeking crucial documents such as passports are being put through in an attempt to lure them to part ways with money to get the services.

It reported that officers demand a bribe of at least Sh2,500 to Sh6,000 from applicants to be issued with documents they applied for, even after paying the mandatory requisite fees.

Kenyans who are unable to cough the bribe are forced to make endless visits to the Immigration counters, being turned away every time they appear.

They are told their documents have not been processed.

The immigration office falls under the Interior Ministry, which was ranked the most corrupt state department by the anti-corruption commission in the 2016 Corruption Index.

At the same time, Mr. Muteshi said that the department has put up a Special Desk at the immigration headquarters at Nyayo House in Nairobi to address urgent and emergency passport application cases.

“Passport applicants may present their requests for rescheduling appointments for biometrics as well as fast-tracking issuance of passports at the special desk, provided that they attach the documentary evidence,” he noted.

He insisted that passport services will only be accessible by appointment booked through the e-citizen portal during the application process.

In February, the government extended the deadline for migrating to the e-passport to December 31, 2021, due to disruptions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Starting January 1, 2022, the old dark blue passport will be null and void and no Kenyan will be able to travel internationally without a valid East African Community biometric e-passport,” Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said.

Kenya has been in the process of phasing out the old-generation passports as part of the binding commitment made to migrate to the new East African Community biometric e-passport.

Passport application in Kenya takes at least two weeks or more for an applicant to get their first passport once they have physically submitted application forms at the Immigration offices.