Virginia, US

Jul 01 2019

New Directives Issued Enforcing Immigration Laws

Kenya

At a Glance

Key developments from the Kenyan Department of Immigration’s new directives include the following, effective immediately:

  • All work permit renewal applications must be accompanied by a tax compliance certificate;
  • Government authorities are increasing scrutiny of work authorization applications – both long and short-term – with an increase in rejections and requests for additional information.
  • Employers must submit information related to their employees to the National Employment Authority before July 8, 2019 and must maintain a list of their employees’ details. Employers who fail to comply with these requirements will face penalties in accordance with the law.

The situation

The Kenyan Department of Immigration is enforcing stringent immigration-related requirements and increasing enforcement of immigration rules to protect the local labour market and ensure compliance with the immigration laws.

A closer look

The Department of Immigration issued the following directives, effective immediately:

  • Tax Compliance Certificate requirement. Foreign nationals and employers applying for a work permit renewal must submit an individual and company Tax Compliance Certificates. The Certificate, which all employers and employees must obtain on an annual basis as part of tax compliance laws in Kenya, must meet Kenyan Revenue Authority regulations.
    • Impact. Work permit renewal applications submitted without the document will be rejected, which will delay the immigration process.
  • Employment information. Employers must submit information on their employees (including the name, gender, occupation, date of employment, nationality and educational level) using a template on the National Employment Authority (NEA) website or the NEA integrated Management system by July 8, 2019.  In future years, the deadline will be January 31 for the preceding year’s information. In addition, employers must maintain a list with the same information in case of a government inspection.
    • Impact. Employers who fail to send their employee information by the deadline or who fail to maintain the list may face penalties in accordance with the law.
  • Increased scrutiny. The Department of Immigration has announced that it has increased its scrutiny of applications for long and short-term work permits.
    • Impact. More work permit applicants are likely to see rejections and there will likely be an increase in requests for additional documentation. Employers should obtain clearances from regulatory bodies in advance and should be ready to provide additional documentation, if required.

 

Background

  • Kenyan trend. This increased enforcement has been ongoing in Kenya since April 2018, and has resulted in slower work authorization approvals and greater rejections. Kenyan politicians are aligning with the government’s effort to protect the local labour market by making it more difficult for foreign nationals to enter Kenya for work.
  • Global trend. Higher enforcement and scrutiny has become common in the immigration space worldwide. In Africa, where the population is growing more rapidly than on other continents while education levels remain very low, governments are focused on passing knowledge from foreign to local worker populations through localization programs, understudies and succession plans. In countries such as Mozambique and Nigeria, there is an increased effort to restrict immigration laws, particularly in the oil and gas sector, to show strong ethics and compliance in the face of rising corruption and unethical practices. The United States has also increased scrutiny on employment-based non-immigrant visas, while Kuwait and Bahrain have increased fees for noncompliant employers and foreign nationals.

 

Looking ahead

The continued emigration of highly-skilled foreign workers in Kenya will likely encourage the government to increase foreign worker skill-exchange efforts. Fragomen expects that the Kenyan immigration authorities will continue to implement directives that restrict immigration laws and enforce higher scrutiny on foreign nationals seeking to work in Kenya.

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 [email protected].