What is the change? The cabinet secretary for immigration has announced several major changes to immigration on the horizon, starting with a 60-day nationwide audit of foreign workers to crack down on undocumented workers. Among the other changes, electronic work permits will be introduced gradually, and work permit procedures and issuance may be dramatically tightened.

What does the change mean? Employers should prepare for site visits by inspectors – including local police – and cooperate in giving them access to their premises and employee files. Companies should also anticipate greater scrutiny of work permit applications and delays in processing.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Kenyan companies that employ foreign workers.
  • Impact on processing times: Employers should anticipate delays in processing.
  • Business impact: All employers should make sure that expatriate workers have valid work authorization – either a work permit or special pass – and that they are prepared for an inspection. Expatriate workers should carry their travel documents or foreign certificates at all times.

Background: The cabinet secretary announced the crackdown and other proposed changes during a meeting Friday with the National Assembly’s Administration and National Security Committee.

BAL Analysis: Employers should anticipate significant changes in coming weeks and months and should file work permit applications as early as possible to factor in the likelihood of delays and additional scrutiny. In receiving inspectors, businesses and their staff should be aware that local police, rather than immigration officers, may conduct inspections of work permits and that under Kenyan law they do not require a warrant to access business properties or personnel files. However, employers should ask for inspectors’ IDs to confirm that they are in fact government or police officials.

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

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