Kenya: Possible Work Permit Rejections and Application Processing Delays Expected

The Kenyan government has issued a directive for foreign nationals to ensure they have the correct work authorization within 60 days. The directive also calls for increased scrutiny of work permit applications, which may lead to work permit application rejections and delayed work permit processing. Lastly, the Kenyan government has announced plans to issue electronic work permits, which may eventually streamline the work permit issuance process.

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Apr 24, 2018

The situation

Foreign nationals in Kenya must regularize their immigration status within 60 days, due to a directive issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government. The government may also increase scrutiny of work permit applications.


Foreign nationals in Kenya have always been required to obtain a work permit prior to entry to work in Kenya, but according to the Cabinet Secretary, there are many foreign workers in Kenya without work permits. This directive seeks to reduce unauthorized foreign work in Kenya and to ensure that Kenyans have access to the limited jobs available on the job market.

A closer look

  • Regularization process. The government is now requiring all foreign workers to regularize their immigration status by June 22, 2018.
    • Impact. The directive will only affect foreign nationals in Kenya illegally and those who are not under the proper work authorization. It is likely that the government will conduct employer inspections in the future. Employers and foreign nationals should ensure that their immigration documents are accurate and up to date
  • Increased scrutiny. In line with the government’s efforts to increase work opportunities for local workers, the government will soon adopt a stricter enforcement scheme for immigration applications.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals seeking to apply for a work permit in Kenya should apply urgently, as the increased scrutiny may result in increased rejections and a slower work authorization process.
  • Electronic work permit issuance. The government announced the development of an electronic work permit issuance system. Details of the system have not yet been published.
    • Impact. If the electronic system streamlines the work permit issuance process as expected, there will likely be a more efficient and possibly faster work permit issuance process.


      Looking ahead

      Kenya’s immigration system is expected to undergo major changes in the next few months, so employers should be prepared for overall increased scrutiny and process changes.

      Fragomen in Kenya is Fragomen Kenya Limited, operating exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm in Kenya. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

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      Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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