Over the last few years, Kenya has made it more difficult for foreigners to obtain work permits and visas. From having to submit applications online and through the mail to limiting the number of hired foreign workers in favor of Kenyans, companies have to follow many of the country’s policies, some of which make it more difficult to start working with a foreign team.
Types of Work Visas in Kenya
Kenya organizes its work permits into different classes based on what activities a foreigner will undertake in the country. The categories include:
- Class A: For anyone entering the prospecting and mining industries.
- Class B: For individuals interested in agriculture or animal husbandry.
- Class C: For anyone who is a member of a prescribed profession who will practice it alone or in a partnership in Kenya.
- Class D: This permit is meant for people offered specific employment with an employer, the Kenyan government, any authority under the Kenyan government, the United Nations (U.N.), or another approved agency. Anyone applying for a class D Kenya work permit must have skills and qualifications not available in the country.
- Class F: For people who want to engage in specific manufacturing activities.
- Class G: For anyone who wants to enter a certain trade, business, consultancy role, or profession.
- Class I: For individuals undertaking religious or charitable activities.
- Class K: For ordinary residents at least 35 years old with an annual income of a certain amount from sources other than employment.
- Class M: This permit is for anyone granted refugee status in the country.
Keep in mind that all work permits are typically valid for two years with the option to renew for an extra two years. Your employees can renew their work permits an unlimited number of times, but they must do it at least three months before the permit expires.
Requirements to Obtain Kenya Work Visas
As the employer, you’re required to apply for work permits on behalf of employees. Each type of Kenya work permit has its own specific documentation, but they all require the following:
- Filled out and signed application form
- Cover letter from you, the employer
- Copies of the foreigner’s passport
- Two color, passport-size photos
- Payment of the application fee
Kenya emphasizes hiring locals over foreign nationals, which is why a committee decides whether to approve or reject a work permit application based on the impact the employment will have on the country’s economy. They also look at how many jobs it will create for Kenyans and check details about the applicant’s country of origin, such as its economy, criminal statistics, and security threats.
Work permit applicants do not have to reach a minimum salary level, but every applicant must have a Kenyan understudy trained to take the position. Keep in mind, though, that the work permit categories your employees apply for can change without notice, which will also modify the requirements.
The first step to obtaining a work permit is applying at the Department of Immigration and submitting all the required documentation above. The department then presents the application to a committee for approval, which can take from two to six months. Your employees will receive a notification of either approval or rejection.
Any foreigner planning to stay in Kenya for more than three months must register as an alien and get an alien registration card from the Department of Immigration. The alien card functions similarly to a residence permit. Keep in mind that a residence permit itself can take two to four months for approval.
Other Important Considerations
Kenya’s Citizenship and Immigration Act makes it illegal for any foreigner to enter or work in the country without a valid work permit. If you have employees come and work without the proper documentation, they will get deported. You must wait for the application to be approved, as simply applying doesn’t entitle someone to work in Kenya.
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As a global PEO, we’ve helped many companies like yours expand to countries around the world. Work with us for a fast and easy expansion to Kenya with total compliance. Contact us today to learn more.