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How to Gain Permanent Residence in Kenya

Kenya is known all world over for its stunning wildlife, nature reserves and safaris, lakes and mountains, Maasai tribes, world-class runners, and friendliness. As such, the country has much to offer migrants from around the world looking for a new start in life. Kenya is also growing economically, and according to the World Bank, between 2015-2019, the country experienced an average 5.7% growth in GDP, one of the fastest-growing in Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank also says, “Kenya has made significant political and economic reforms that have contributed to sustained economic growth, social development, and political stability gains over the past decade”. In this article, we will look at how it is possible for migrants to gain permanent residence status in Kenya, focusing on the two main routes of work and family.

How Can I Gain Permanent Residence In Kenya?

According to Kenya’s Department of Immigration Services, there are four routes to acquire Permanent Residency, as defined by Section 37 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011:

  • (Category A) Permanent Residency for Ex-Citizens of Kenya
  • (Category B) Permanent Residency for holders of Work permits
  • (Category C) Permanent Residency for Children of Kenya Citizens
  • (Category D) Permanent Residency for Spouses of Kenya Citizens

In this article, we will focus on categories B, C, and D.

Kenyan permanent Residency through work

Under this route, migrants who have held Kenya a work permit for at least seven years and have been residing in the country continuously for the last three years can apply for permanent residence (PR). It is possible for the main applicant’s spouse and children to also gain PR at the same time. The immigration guidance also states, “applicants must demonstrate a strong position to make a tangible contribution to the socio-economic development of the country hence priority will be given to investors and highly qualified professionals”. As such, there is no guarantee of being granted PR in Kenya on the basis of your work experience, but those with investment capital and/or expertise and strong qualifications will have a distinct advantage. To make an application for PR based on your work experience, you will need to:

  • Create an account on the Government of Kenya Single Sign-On portal
  • Once logged in the eFNS portal, select the "Apply now" Link
  • Click on the "Submit Applications" tab and select the Permanent Residence tab.
  • After completing the application form, you will need to make a payment.
  • Once submitted, you will then receive updates via email and on your account about the progress of your application
  • You also maybe required to attend an interview
  • A full list of the documents you will need to provide can be found online.

Kenyan permanent Residency as a child of a Kenyan citizen

Under this route, it is possible for children of Kenyan nationals born outside of Kenya to gain permanent Residency. To make an application, you will need to click on the Kenya single sign-on link above and complete the form for PR for the children of Kenyan citizens. In addition to completing the form and paying the application fee, applicants also need to provide the following:

  • An application letter
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (Form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths
  • Category C - Questionnaire for Intending Applicants (this is generated when you complete the online application)
  • Certified copies of the applicant’s birth certificate
  • Certified copies of the parents birth certificates/ Kenya Passport(s)/ Identity Card(s) (proof of Kenyan citizenship)
  • Certified copy of the current passport
  • Two passport size photographs
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate

Kenyan permanent Residency as a spouse of a Kenyan citizen

Category D PR is available to foreign spouses of Kenyan nationals. In order to apply, you must have been married to a Kenyan citizen for at least three years. The application and fee payment is completed using the same link as above. Kenyan immigration services state that applicants must provide the following information with your application:

  • An application letter written by their Kenyan spouse
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (Form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths
  • Category D - Questionnaire for Intending Applicants (this is generated when you complete the online application)
  • Completed residence status form generated automatically upon completion of the online application
  • Police Clearance Certificate (Original)
  • Evidence of marriage and family life
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate
  • Copies of either passport/Identity card/ and birth certificate of your Kenyan spouse
  • Copy of passport /birth certificate/ of your foreign spouse
  • Copies of work permit(s)/dependant pass of your spouse
  • Two passport size photographs (a soft copy will also be required during application)
  • Copy of valid foreigner certificate (Alien card)
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate

As with all spouse immigration applications, the person processing your case will be looking for any potential signs that your relationship (and hence the application) is not genuine; this is often referred to as ‘sham marriage’. For this reason, try to include plenty of evidence with your application that your marriage is genuine and ongoing. Evidence such as photos and proof of your shared finances and future plans should be provided to give a clear picture of your genuine relationship.

Final words

Gaining permanent residence through work or family is possible for foreign nationals in Kenya. Given the importance of securing PR, it is always advisable to have help and support from an immigration lawyer who can guide you through the process. They understand the traps and pitfalls which applicants who have been refused in the past have fallen into and can ensure you have the best possible chance of receiving a positive decision for you and your family. We wish you all the very best with your new life in Kenya.

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

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