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Whether visiting, working, investing in or moving to Kenya, there is some paperwork and fees. The process is quite standard with straightforward guidelines and fee structures, but with payments and regulations that vary based on country of origin and reason for the visa or immigration.
With the threat of global terrorism and kidnapping of foreigners by terrorists on Kenyan soil, especially near the Somali border, in the Garissa District, and on coastal areas north of Pate Island, entry into Kenya by foreigners is strictly regulated. Check with the Kenyan embassy in your country for travel advisories.
Points of entry into Kenya
Strategically located, Kenya allows entry into its borders by roads from the neighboring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, by sea through the Indian Ocean, and by air through its international airports, Moi International Airport and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. See Kenyan transportation information article for more information.
Visa requirements for Kenya
Every foreigner intending to enter Kenya for various reasons must meet certain conditions:
- The passport must be valid for at least six months beginning on the date of entry
- It is important that your passport has validity of not less than six months beyond expiration of your visit
- You will be required by the immigration department to have at least two blank visa pages in your passport that are unstamped (for use in any exit and entry stamps). Missing blank pages can mean refusal/difficulties obtaining entry.
Depending on which country you come from, you may need a visa to enter Kenya.
Citizens from neighboring east-African countries are not mandated to have a visa, they simply use visitor pass from the immigration unit at the airport or border points.
- Visas are also not required for citizens from certain listed oversea countries such as Bahamas, Cyprus, Gambia, Seychelles and Singapore, among others (although the list changes regularly).
- However, there are nationals who cannot enter Kenya without advance visas, such as nationals from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, as well as stateless persons, etc. This list is also eligible for frequent changes.
There are two ways of obtaining Kenyan visas:
- At the airport upon arrival, though often tedious and marred by delays
- Advance applications
Irrespective of the kind of visit you intend to make, there are two primary visa options:
- Single-entry visa
- Authorizes only one entry into the country.
- Multiple journey visa
- Permits several entries into the country. You may need triplicate copies of required documentation and to pay more for this kind of visa.
Both options require you to present specific documents:
- Official visa application forms
- Cover letter for the application or copies of an invitation
- Copies of your passport
- Recently taken passport sized photos
- Any other important paperwork that aligns with your aim of entering Kenya, such as work permit or marriage certificate for spousal visits.
- As of July 2011, any visa applicant, irrespective of their age and their means of obtaining visas, must pay USD$50 charge for single-entry visas, and double the amount to obtain multiple-entry visas.
Work and Resident Permits
If you intend to work and live in Kenya, you are required to have advance work and residence permits respectively, which are often difficult to obtain in good time.
Working or living in Kenya, in any sector and at whatever capacity, without a permit is illegal.
- Application for work and residence permits is included in the visa application process.
- There are twelve different classes of permits depending on your reason for entering Kenya.
- Class A: covering specific employment offered by specific employer such as foreign assignees
- Class C: covering humanitarian employees in aid organizations such as UN
- Class E: covering foreign missionaries operating in Kenya
- Class K: covering independently affluent foreigners hoping to settle in the country
You may need to get a Yellow Fever jab especially if you are coming from nations with high risk of transmitting Yellow Fever.
To obtain more information about the visa and immigration procedures and laws, or for travel advisories, please visit the embassy website for Kenya in your country. Additional information, such as price lists and entry points, can be found on Kenya’s Immigration Department website, http://www.immigration.go.ke. Immigration and Visas for Kenya.
Author : James E Harrison