KENYA IMMIGRATION LAWS, POLICIES AND REGULATIONS: LIKE ALL GOOD SYSTEMS NEED OCCASIONAL UPGRADE!

In the world of mobile telephony today two operating systems are virtually in every person’s mind and mouth: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems. Both operating systems are great for the users depending on the devices you own. The merits or demerits of both aside, these mobile devices operating systems have one thing in common: They get regular updates with superior capabilities to handle any emerging challenges based on user experiences.
If my facts are right ,the latest version of Apple’s iOS is 8.4 while Android is 5.0….you may wonder what has his to do with Immigration? As many people will agree, the world is moving at a high speed and bringing along new challenges and ways of doing things….people are now moving around the world in many more ways than before….wherever there are people moving across the globe,then issues of Immigration crop up…. Countries around the world are grappling with issues to do with immigration…in fact elections are won or lost due to the Immigration debates in some countries: The US and UK are good example of countries struggling with issues of Immigration. Kenya too has enough shares of immigration related challenges.
I must say that Kenya has some of the most recent laws and regulations governing Immigration in Africa and the world…it is also true that the practice of Immigration  is much more modern and progressive in Kenya than it is many other countries in Africa. That is not to say there are no challenges! No! In fact we have many challenges as well. As someone that has worked with Immigration department in Kenya for over 9 years and now working on corporate immigration practice side, I have a good view of how it is like on either side.
Immigration officials have a job to do as per the applicable laws while the corporate world needs immigration services as per their business needs. On many fronts these interests don’t quite agree yet looking at the mission of Kenya Immigration Department there is every intent to address the corporates needs on Immigration….the facilitation of the socio-economic development of the country through regulation of exit, entry and residency is indeed a testament that Immigration is a balance between regulation and facilitation.
One of the questions that I keep answering almost every day from my corporate clients or potential investors seeking to start their offices in Kenya is the need to identify Kenyan understudies for all employee work permits applications in what is commonly referred to as Kenyanization. Although the origin of this concept was after independence and the intentions were to ensure that indigenous Kenyans who were obviously disadvantaged in terms of skills got jobs that were initially denied to them….there is need to start a debate as to the suitability of this requirements in 2015! That debate should be about the how and why of Kenyanization…
The truth of the matter is that now Kenyans are some of the most skilled folks in the world and many Kenyans are all over the world working as expatriates and at the top of their game….obviously every country must protect its interests and jobs for their citizens in areas where there are adequate skills. However, that has to be balanced with the commitment by the current regime to encourage foreign investments and many companies setting their regional hubs here. If for instance you take Equity Bank or Kenya Commercial Bank as an example, both have regional presence in the East Africa and if you look at most of their branches across the region, there are good numbers of Kenyans working in those branches… to ensure that their interests are protected as well as to infuse the corporate cultures in those branches….in most cases the same model is utilized by foreign companies setting up in Kenya.
This is not to say that we open our doors to all and sundry to come and work in Kenya: NO! we must ensure that in cases where Kenyans are competent to work then they should be given chances to work but we must also as a country realize that Kenya is now a big exporter of human capital just like those other countries who send expert to work in Kenya! It is a two way traffic. I remember there was a huge hue and cry when South Sudan threatened to expel Kenyans working there not to mention the frequent complaints by Kenyans about hostility towards them in Tanzania.
I therefore believe that the government of Kenya needs to occasionally evaluate the various Immigration laws, regulations and policies with an intention to seal any loop holes that put the country at risk but also create more conducive environments for foreign investors to set up their companies to create more jobs, transfer skills and grow our economy. No country is self-sufficient and we cannot afford to frown at the world because we too can easily face similar treatment….the Kenya- South Africa Visa issues are still being looked into and is one example of how countries can engage each other to benefit their countries. The recent visit by President Obama also saw issues of Kenya-US Visa discussed.
As our president travels the world engaging other leaders and encouraging investors to set up in Kenya, the bureaucrats need to translate his talk into real operational policies and regulations to encourage investments into the country…just like iOS and Android keeps improving on their systems to address the ever emerging challenges, there is need to keep upgrading our policies, laws and regulations on Immigration and other related sectors.
I am looking forward to a discourse on how best to run our Immigration practice and the required upgrades to ensure that our interests as Kenyans are preserved without shutting the doors to foreigners who have good intentions of investing in Kenya.

3 thoughts on “KENYA IMMIGRATION LAWS, POLICIES AND REGULATIONS: LIKE ALL GOOD SYSTEMS NEED OCCASIONAL UPGRADE!

  1. Kenyan Immigration law is unfair. I came across numerous postings in the Internet and the last one I was reading touched my heart. I feel so sorry for this Family. As I udnerstood, the guy wants to settle with his Family in Kenya. I was reading numerous stories like this buts as I said this one touches me somehow.
    I was in Kenya last year and feel that my rights are violated, (especially the part of equality) by the government. I am married to a Kenyan now for over 8 years and wanted to apply for permanent residency as I am eligible to it. As I need a Certificate of good conduct (strange requirement) I must stay in the country for 6 month (doing nothing) to obtain one. I have been in the country numerous time totaling more than 180 days (6 months) but it seems that accumulated times are not accepted as I understand. I have no idea why as it does not make any difference in my opinion.

    At Nyayo house I was told (by Sr. Assistant Director Residency) that I should stay in the country for a period of 6 month and return to CID. You must stay in the Country for 6 month to obtain residency but you CANT stay. How? You are only allowed to VISIT on a VISA but not stay as a resident, and the requirement is you must be a RESIDENT for 6 month. Immigration is not willing to issue a temporary stay Permit. They told me to start a business (capital needed 100,000 USD), in order for me to stay for 6 months, then after 6 month apply for residency. Or have an Employer to Sponsor me (which is not easy even though I am highly qualified).

    The requirement to obtain a Certificate of good conduct does not apply for Class K permits (Retirement in Kenya) and starting a business for example. Therefore requiring a certificate of good conduct in my case (permanent residency) violates my right as there are different rules for the same purpose ignoring the equality of everyone. There should be no difference between Residency with work permit and residency without working. I do understand the need for protecting and observing the interest of national security but in my opinion, either the rule applies for EVERYONE or no one.

    In my opinion this requirement is unconstitutional par. 27 (1) equality. Not accepting my visits in Kenya (totaling 6 months+) is in my opinion violating my rights of quality. If I spend 100,000 and start a business I can just get residency WITHOUT the certificate of good conduct, this point is already giving advantage to people who have money. My wife was given temporary residency IMMEDIATELLY in Germany once we were married. I even wrote a letter to the Director of CID requesting for help but did not get any response.

    It seems that people should be discouraged applying for a permanent residency. In other countries someone is getting at least a temporary residency and work permit.

    I am eligible to Permanent residency but the 6 months stay requirement to obtain a CID certificate for permanent residency violates my right of equal treatment.

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    • Hi Frank,
      That issue is affecting many people but I hope the government will at some point review their position on the matter especially on the issue of spouses of Kenyans who are entitled to residency/citizenship by marriage.
      Regards

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      • So when do you think this will be? Kenyans in diasproa are getting Temporary Permits for 2 years before getting permanent ones enabling them to stay and work in US, UK, Germany. I am married to a foreigner (Uganda) myself never had issues getting a Permit.

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