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The British High Commission in Nairobi plans to scale down its operations starting December as London applies austerity measures in its foreign offices.
Visa applications by Kenyans and other residents in East and Central Africa will now be processed in Pretoria, South Africa, the High Commission’s head of communications Stephen Burns confirmed on Saturday.
The move will mean that embassy employees in Nairobi will be reduced in a move similar to one taken by the United States several weeks ago.
“The visa charges remain the same and so will be the waiting period,” Mr said.
A document circulated to staff at the High Commission and seen by the Business Daily explains that the cutback is part of the worldwide measures by the British government to cut costs.
In May, the US embassy in Nairobi, the largest US mission in Africa, announced it would cut down its staff due to the mounting threat of attacks in Kenya suspected to be masterminded by Al-Shabaab.
Weeks later, on June 19, the United States announced it was moving some of its Nairobi embassy personnel to other countries.
Britain, however, said its latest move was not security-related adding that it had no plans to evacuate staff from Kenya or close office entirely.
Between July 16 and December 31, visa applications from the East and Central Africa will be transferred to “other hubs” including Pretoria in South Africa according to the document circulated to staff at the Nairobi office.
“The Nairobi visa section will not close completely but after January 1, 2015, it will deal with only about 6,000 applications per year,” says the document.
These will include Kenyan official and Diplomatic applications, priority visas, compassionate and urgent medical cases and official applications from the region made through local missions.
Following this migration of services, the current 38 members of staff at the visa section will be reduced to seven and employees are now leaving in phases until that number is attained.
The document seen by the Business Daily says staff in UK-based slots will leave for other postings overseas or in the UK while locally engaged posts will be “reduced through voluntary and compulsory redundancy schemes” by December 31.
– Business Daily