The most recent amendments to the Kenya Immigration laws were contained in the Statute Law( Miscellaneous amendments) no 11 of 2017 contained in the Kenya Gazette Supplement no 54 (acts no. 11 of 2017)
The amendments focused on the areas below:
- Spouses of Kenyans applying for citizenship will need to have acquired a residence status in Kenya in addition to being married for 7 years before applying for citizenship. ( Section 11 was amended by insertion of the words…and has acquired residence status. Residence status refers to either a work permit or Dependent Pass.
- Migrants and stateless persons were added two more years to allow them to apply for citizenship under section 15 and 16 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act 2011. This therefore means from 2011 to 2018. This period may be extended by the Cabinet Secretary for another 3 years thus making a total of 10 years.
- Application for Kenyan passport/travel documents: The amendment allows the Director of Immigration services or his assignees to request for any other documentations or information he may require to ascertain citizenship before issuing a passport or a travel document.
- Renunciation of citizenship: Previously, the law only allowed Kenyan citizens by birth to renounce their citizenship but the amended law now allows citizens by registration to renounce as well upon application in the prescribed manner.
- Qualification for Permanent Residence (PR): Previously, section 37 of the Act, only allowed the applicant and their children to qualify for PR subject to meeting the requirements. An amendment to section 37 now allows dependents of PR holders to also apply. Important to note is that one has to provide evidence that indeed those persons are the bonafide dependents.
- Children of registered citizens who are born before their parents acquire citizenship now qualify to apply for Permanent residence. ( This is in my view a bit ambiguous because it does not give at what time in the process of acquiring citizenship should such a child be born to qualify.
- Widows and Widowers of Kenyan citizens now qualify for PR. Previously the law only spoke about spouses of Kenyans. The amendments do not say how wrong should they have been married before the Kenyan spouse passed on for them qualify.
- Appeals: Previously, anyone not satisfied with the decision of the Director of Immigration was required to appeal to the High Court for review. The amendments provides for one to appeal to the Cabinet Secretary for a review of such decisions and thereafter to the High Court if not satisfied with the decision of the CS. What this amendment has done is bring back an administrative process that was in the repealed Immigration Act.