Kenya: Business Visa Category Is Eliminated Amid Reorganization of Kenyan Immigration System
Business visitors traveling to Kenya must now obtain short-term work authorization under new regulations that also introduce employer compliance inspections and significant increases to immigration application fees.
New immigration regulations have eliminated the business visa category in Kenya, requiring business visitors to obtain a form of short-term work authorization called a Special Pass. The regulations also introduce employer compliance inspections, a new research and internship permit and increases to government fees for new and pending applications.
Work Authorization for Business Visitors
Foreign nationals traveling to Kenya for business must now obtain Special Passes instead of business visas. For business visits of up to six weeks, applicants may obtain Special Passes at their ports of entry, while those seeking to enter for more than six weeks are advised to submit Special Pass applications to the Kenyan Immigration Department prior to travel.
Though the new requirement is in effect, in practice, the Kenyan Immigration Department and diplomatic posts are still implementing the changes. In the near term, foreign nationals should contact the Kenyan diplomatic post with jurisdiction over their places of residence to confirm the appropriate process and requirements.
Reorganization of Temporary Work Authorization Programs
Eligibility requirements and application processes remain the same for temporary work authorization, although the regulations consolidate four of Kenya’s former specific work categories into one general employment classification (Class D permits). Additionally, foreign nationals are now limited to a maximum of five years of temporary work authorization. They must apply for permanent residency to work beyond five years in Kenya.
Employer Compliance Inspections
The regulations grant the Kenyan Immigration Department the ability to conduct unannounced inspections of employer worksites to verify the immigration status and work authorization of any foreign national present. The Immigration Department is also authorized to inspect homes and schools. In light of the elimination of the business visa category, employers should ensure that any foreign national visiting a worksite for business holds a Special Pass.
Research and Internship Pass Introduced
A new category of immigration pass was created for foreign nationals seeking to conduct research or participate in internships in Kenya for up to twelve months. Previously, foreign nationals required work permits to do research or act as interns in Kenya.
Increased Immigration Application Fees
The regulations significantly increased the application fees for nearly every immigration category, doubling the annual fees for work permits. The new fees apply to any application that was pending on or submitted on or after July 13, 2012. Those with pending applications are required to supplement their application fees to meet the new fee requirements.
The government application fee for work permits is now KSh 200,000 (approximately US$2,380) for each year of work authorization requested. There is also a new work permit processing fee of KSh 10,000 (approximately US$120).
Business visitors face much higher fees than they did in the past. The fee for a Special Pass is now KSh 15,000 (approximately US$180) per month of stay requested. The prior application fee for business visas was approximately US$50, regardless of the duration of stay requested.
The fee for dependent passes increased five-fold to KSh 5,000 (approximately US$60) per year of status requested.
Fragomen will continue to monitor the implementation of the new regulations and disseminate further alerts as necessary.
Fragomen worked closely with Iseme, Kamau & Maema Advocates in Nairobi, Kenya to prepare this alert. It is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Global or send an email to email@example.com.