IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? The Department of Immigration Services introduced an additional procedure to all work permit applications that scrutinizes the hiring of foreign nationals over Kenyan citizens.

What does the change mean? The change means that all work permit applications, including pending applications, may require additional documentation. Applicants will likely see longer processing times, as all applications must undergo this additional vetting process.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals.
  • Impact on processing times: The new procedure is likely to prolong processing times.
  • Business impact: If work permits are rejected because of the new requirements, it could impact business decisions when hiring foreign nationals in Kenya.

Background: Under the new procedure, the Department of Immigration Services is forwarding all work permit applications to its Kenyanization Section prior to their consideration by the Approval Committee. That office will review the application to determine:

  • Whether the job requires skills that a local worker could not fulfill;
  • Whether the foreign applicant is qualified for the job; and
  • Whether the employer’s workforce is consistent with the recommended ratio of one foreign worker for every three local workers.

The Kenyanization Section then prepares a report and recommendation to the work permit approval committee based on its findings.

The new procedures began last week and is in force for all work permit applications for foreign nationals.

BAL analysis: Going forward, employers may be asked to provide additional documentation and proof based on the criteria of the new procedures. As this is a new directive, it is not yet clear how long the new procedures will take, or whether work permits are more likely to be denied under the new scrutiny. BAL is following these changes and will update as details emerge.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Kenya. For additional information, please contact

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