Visas for Kenya

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visas for kenyaWhether visiting on vacation or looking to settle down in the long-term, most people will require a visa for Kenya. The type of visa one acquires will depend on each individual’s reasons for being in the country.

Expats hired to work in Kenya are likely to have some level of support from their employer when it comes to visa matters. It can be assumed that if a company is hiring from overseas, they have already gone through the process of warranting foreign employment, and expats will not need to be involved in proving their merit to the government. Having said this, Kenya is known for protecting its workforce.

Volunteers and employees of aid agencies in Kenya should have their organisations arrange for their visa. Expats creating their own business in Kenya have to secure licenses and demonstrate earning potential in order to receive a work and business permit.

Tourist visas for Kenya

Most foreigners now require a tourist visa to visit Kenya. This includes Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans. There are just a handful of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Kenya.

It is possible to obtain a visa upon entering the country at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi or at Kenya’s land borders with Tanzania and Uganda. A tourist visa is valid for a three-month period from the date of entry, after which it can be extended for a further three months.

The cost of the visa will depend on whether it is single-entry, multiple-entry or a transit visa. Under the East African partnership system, visiting Tanzania or Uganda and subsequently returning to Kenya does not invalidate a single-entry Kenyan visa; therefore, there is no need to get a multiple-entry visa unless planning to travel further afield.

It is also possible to obtain a visa from any Kenyan diplomatic mission abroad, but this process can take a long time so apply well in advance. There is no real advantage to applying for a tourist visa for Kenya before arriving in the country.

Work/residence permits for Kenya

Any non-Kenyan wishing to remain in the country for longer than a six-month period must obtain a work or residence permit before arriving in Kenya.

There are various classes of work/residence permits to suit each individual's motives for settling in Kenya. There is an extensive range of work/residence permits that cover everyone from short-term assignees to retirees and international students.

The cost of the visa is generally covered by the company or organisation employing an expat. In addition to a non-refundable visa processing fee, there is an annual fee to be paid for the visa. The annual fee varies according to the type of visa one is applying for.

Below is a list of the most common work/residence permits and the necessary documents needed to apply for them.

Class D

This type of visa covers those who are moving to Kenya to do a specific job for a single employer. This permit covers expats on an intra-company transfer, foreign assignees and humanitarian workers employed by a recognised NGO.

In most cases, the employer will appoint an immigration professional to oversee the visa process for any foreigners they employ.

Class G

This permit is issued to those looking to invest in a specific trade or set up a business or consultancy in Kenya.

Class I

This permit is specifically for foreign missionaries working in Kenya. 

Class K

This permit is for independently wealthy foreigners who want to settle down in Kenya. To obtain a Class K permit one needs to submit proof of adequate funds to support themselves while they remain in the country.

Local registration in Kenya

Regardless of the type of work/residence permit, any expat living in Kenya needs to register with the Immigration Department or the local police within three months of arriving in the country. This rule applies to all foreign residents who are over 18 and staying in Kenya for a period longer than 90 days. 

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