The impact of visa restrictions by Kenya on international arrivals: the case of Nigeria
Soita, Rose Wabusya
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Every country has the sovereign right to decide who may or may not enter its territory. The restriction placed on entry through the administration of the different visa regimes are designed to ensure that countries benefit from the migration of people while delimiting the adverse effects of migration. It is international custom and practice that possession of a visa does not guarantee automatic admission. This study sought to examine the impact of visa restrictions by the government of Kenya on international arrivals, focusing on the study of Nigeria. The study was guided by the following objectives: to examine the relationship between visa restrictions and international arrivals in Kenya; to examine the policies that guide the government in imposition of visa restrictions; assess how visa restrictions affect labour migration into Kenya.100 questionnaires were distributed purposively to immigration officers based at relevant sections at the Department of Immigration Headquarters, Missions abroad and at the main port of entry; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In addition, three top administrators were interviewed. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data with the help of the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft Excel. Collected data was coded, checked for completeness, summarized and presented using frequency tables, percentages, bar graphs and pie charts. The study established that implementation of visa policies affect the international arrivals as indicated by 73% of the respondents. The extent of the effect greatly depends on the category of visa that is in force. Countries in the category of visa free and visas issued on application either at the Embassies or at the ports of entry are found to be frequent visitors to Kenya as compared to the frequency of those on restricted referred visa with 20.9% which is occasioned by the stringent visa requirements/conditions. The Nigerian statistics on arrivals between 2004-2013 arrivals skyrocketed after they were removed from the category and placed under visa on arrival category. 75.5% of the respondents indicated that the government of Kenya is not keen on hiring of foreign labor hence in addition to visa restriction, there are other stringent conditions for engagement of foreigners. The criterion used by the government on the visa restriction policy is by and large the principle of reciprocity and background security checks with international relations and diplomacy coming third. The process of formulation and implementation of the policy is as a result of interagency consultations with the department of Immigration as a lead agency. National security is pertinent in management of foreign nationals entering the country and as such Securitization theory is the most applicable theory in the case of visa restrictions in Kenya.