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Update on the recent notice affecting work permits and dependant passes in Kenya

Update on the recent notice affecting work permits and dependant passes in Kenya

    Directive by CS Fred Matiangi on Work Permits

    The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Hon. Dr. Fred Matiangi, while addressing the Parliament's Security Committee in Mombasa on 20th April 2018, announced a number of directives aimed at affecting operations in the immigration department and the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals in Kenya.

    The CS issued a sixty-day window period to allow for regularization of work permits for foreigners with effect from 23rd April 2018. The CS acknowledged the long inordinate delays suffered by foreign nationals in pursuit of work permits and Dependant Passes.

    Months later, the directives have had significant effects on the issuance of Work Permits and Dependant Passes key among them being the recent Notice issued by the Immigration Department announcing simultaneous application for Work Permits and Dependant Passes by foreigners.

    Simultaneous application for Work permits and Dependant passes

    Through an undated NOTICE, the Department announced "All Work Permit applicants are encouraged to submit their Entry Permit applications together with Dependant Pass applications simultaneously for ease of processing".

    The move would allow foreign nationals applying for a work/residence permit to submit their applications together with applications for their accompanying dependents, to allow for the simultaneous processing of both applications. This development applies to foreign nationals submitting initial applications for a work permit to the department of immigration and takes effect immediately.

    Lodging the Simultaneous Application

    Foreign nationals applying for initial work permit applications should attach the required dependant pass application documents for the accompanying dependents who qualify for the application. They should ensure that they attach the relevant application requirements to avoid a delay in the processing for either of the applications.

    Long and inordinate delays suffered prior to the notice

    It was not previously possible to submit the applications for a Work Permit and Dependant passes together, since the processing of the principal applicant's work permit application had to be completed and the work permit issued before any applications for dependant passes could be made. This prolonged the time needed to obtain immigration documentation for dependants. The new development will ease the application process since both applications will now be processed simultaneously.

    Legal Framework Governing Work Permits and Dependant Passes in Kenya

    (a) Work Permit

    This is a document issued by the Director of Immigration Services, under the provisions of section 40 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011, to enable foreign national (s) enter Kenya and engage in trade, prospecting, farming, business, professional employment, missionary activities or even reside in Kenya.

    The Director issues Work/Residence permits upon the recommendation of the Permit Determination Committee, an inter-ministerial Committee appointed by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government under section 40(1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011.

    Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Director regarding work/residence permit applications, may appeal to the Cabinet Secretary, for review of the decision (section 22(1) of Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service Act, 2011).

    There are various classes of permits as provided for under Section 36(1), as read with the seventh schedule of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations, 2012.

    (b) Dependant Pass

    This is document is issued to a person whose spouse, parent or guardian is lawfully entitled to enter Kenya under the provisions of Clause 27 (1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations, 2012).

    The Dependant Pass is issued to persons who are Dependants of:

    1. Kenya Citizens
    2. Permit holders
    3. Exempted persons
    4. Permanent residents


    In this regard, processing timelines for dependant passes will be significantly reduced. The work permit and dependant pass applications will be jointly subjected to the security clearance process thus saving on the time spent on each application. We expect that as soon as the work permit is approved, a determination on the dependant pass applications will follow immediately.

    For further assistance please contact CM Advocates LLP, at cmaina@cmadvocates.com.