Kenya Consulate in Los Angeles to start processing ePassports after government’s approval

The new Kenyan E-passport. [Photo Wikipedia]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kenya has approved ePassport processing at the Kenyan Consulate in Los Angeles.

In a statement on Thursday, the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC told Kenyans in the US that they will get their new generation passports in Los Angeles.

“The Kenya Consulate in Los Angeles has been approved by the Government to process the new generation ePassports,” statement by Embassy read.

It added that it will announce when these services will commence.

“As we embark on the process of setting up the infrastructure, we call on Kenyans to be patient as you will be advised on when the ePassport system in Los Angeles is up and running,” the Mission stated.

This follows a petition by a US-based Kenyan, Paddy Mwembu who in September 2020 lodged a petition with the Office of the President seeking to have an e-passport centre established in Los Angeles.

Mwembu who lives in California said that his petition was aimed at bringing down the hassle of Kenyans who travel to Washington DC for immigration services.

In his petition, he argued that almost half of Kenyans in America live on the west coast which further compounds his bid to have an e-centre in Los Angeles.

“Considering the distance and the cost of travel to Washington DC for processing of e-passport biometrics only, [it] fails to make economic sense. The distance to Washington DC is extreme and the total cost is prohibitive,” he said in the petition according to Nation.

“As an alternative, e-passport biometrics processing can be performed at the consulate in Los Angeles. The office is fully functional, appropriately staffed and has the capability to handle e-passport processing,” he added.

Kenyans in Los Angeles have to cover 4,300 km to Washington DC to apply for the new generation passport, a service now being lobbied for the Kenyan Los Angeles consulate.

The e-passport was launched in August 2017 and the government gave September 2019 as the deadline for compliance.

However, due to public pressure, this was pushed to March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic struck. 

This, again, threw a spanner into the works and the Immigration Department said that an estimated 1.8 million Kenyans in the diaspora are yet to replace their old passports.