What is the change? Kenya continues to crack down on illegal immigration as the country enforces existing immigration policies, arresting and deporting a number of individuals in recent months, including 60 senior hotel managers who originally came into the country as tourists.

What does the change mean? Kenya has recently undertaken a series of measures aimed at making sure foreign nationals are not working illegally in the country, including enforcement of existing immigration policies more stringently and completion of a national audit of work permits.

First-time applicants must obtain special passes or work permits before traveling to Kenya and individuals entering the country are encouraged to make sure all required documents are in order, as Kenyan authorities are performing robust compliance checks and enforcement. Those intending to renew existing immigration documents should make note of the increased enforcement and that they may be required to adhere more closely to laws and regulations, such as appointing a Kenyan understudy. Renewal applicants should make sure to leave plenty of time when submitting applications in Kenya.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Special passes and work permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals applying for special passes and work permits.
  • Impact on processing times: Foreign nationals applying for a renewal should do so three to four months before their current permit expires to ensure that the new permit is issued before the expiration date.
  • Business impact: Employers should make sure that all foreign national employees have valid work permits. When relocating employees to Kenya, employers should remind first-time work permit applicants to obtain their permits before traveling to the country.

Background: In May, the Department of Immigration announced a work permit verification drive requiring foreign nationals with work permits to appear in person to provide biometrics. Authorities subsequently indicated they would impose a number of changes, including enforcement of an existing requirement under the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act that special passes and work permits be approved before applicants enter Kenya. The enforcement of this provision took effect Aug. 24, according to an announcement from the Department of Immigration.

Analysis & Comments: Employers and foreign nationals are reminded of how serious authorities have become this year about making sure foreign nationals are not working illegally in Kenya. Authorities have gone so far as to say that foreign nationals who enter Kenya and then apply for work permits should be arrested and deported. Companies should prepare for site visits by inspectors—including local police—and cooperate in giving them access to their premises and employee files. Greater scrutiny of work permit applications and delays in processing should also be expected.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.