Impact of Covid-19 on Kenya immigration procedures
Are you planning to travel soon to Nairobi? Let’s see what procedures have changed in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis in Kenya. The world is facing an unprecedented global health, social and economic emergency with the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel and tourism are among the most affected sectors with travel restrictions put in place in virtually all countries around the world. Kenya is no exception and we are going to review the impact of Covid-19 on Kenya immigration procedures.
Be it for vacation, business trip or for long-term residency, the immigration procedures in Kenya can be quite challenging for foreigners. And even more since Covid-19 crisis. Whether you are an international group, an African start-ups or foreign investment fund, you’d better identify the right business process outsourcing (BPO). Indeed, this domain requires field expertise and professional standards to handle immigration procedures while delivering value to the client.
Covid-19 at Nyayo House
Immigration services are among the state departments that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis in Kenya. The health crisis has affected the turnaround time for the communication and delivery of all services.
Since resumption of the international flights, the government has developed Covid-19 protocols for foreigners visiting Kenya. It was meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Currently, all arriving passengers on international flights with a COVID-19 negative certificate (carried out within 96 hours before travel); whose body temperature is not above 37.5° C; who do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing or other flu-like symptoms; and who are from countries considered low to medium COVID-19 risk (list of countries), shall be exempted from quarantine.
Passengers traveling out of Kenya are required to abide by the particular travel COVID-19 related requirements of the destination country. All countries have implemented different policies and protocols to adapt to the new health and safety conditions imposed by the Covid-19.
For example, Kenya has automated some services to ensure continued service delivery under the prevailing “new normal” circumstances.
Online procedures automation
In order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kenya Immigration has recently automated visa extensions on their online portal. This is supposed to reduce crowding at their offices while ensuring compliance with health and safety protocols. Currently, visitors on tour to the country can easily extend their legal stay in the country in their homes’ comfort. Note that the visa extension also applies to those awaiting approval of their work authorisation documents or resident status.
Further to the visa extension automation, the government has also fully automated multiple entry visa applications. Currently, the process is entirely done online. It is part of the long-term immigration measures to have paperless operations and provision of e-visas.
Despite the recent immigration reforms to improve service delivery efficiency, the process is never short of challenges because of bureaucratic procedures. For instance, even though the visas are processed online, the stamping (endorsement) is entirely manual with the physical submission of the approval and payment documents at immigration offices. Additionally, make sure to keep track of the entire application since many oversight issues could delay the turnaround time for delivering immigration services.
Foreign National Registration
Let’s have a look at the Kenya citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011 Part VII, section 56(2). All foreigners residing more than 90 days in Kenya are required to register and obtain a foreign national registration certificate. It is usually valid up to 2-years renewable and 3-years for holders of permanent residence permit.
Alien cards are the cornerstone of immigration monitoring in Kenya. Both initial registration and renewals of the foreign national certificate (Alien ID) are now fully automated. Application, submission, payment and booking of fingerprints appointments are all processed online. The government has invested in digital biometric machines to reduce physical contacts and also improve registration efficiency.
These new changes are geared towards improving efficiency in providing and delivering immigration services. Unfortunately, the process remains very slow and painful. It takes a lot of time because the officers are currently learning the new system. And the number of applicants is at an all-time high.
Further, a foreign national’s registration certificate (Alien ID) remains the Kenya government’s property. When they no longer reside in Kenya, the holders must surrender the card to customs at the port of departure. It’s important to note that any person contravening any provision or requirement of an order issued to a foreign national is considered to be committing an offence liable to a fine or imprisonment or both.
Permits and temporary passes
For those planning to relocate to Kenya for employment or business-related activities, it is imperative to note that you’ll be required to obtain a working status to validate your professional engagements in the country. The process currently is partly online and partly physical. It is essential to have the required documents, knowledge on the different classes of permits, costs and the duration required to have a special pass or a permit.
The requirements might seem straightforward at first impression. However, the requirements keep changing regularly, and we recommend that you work with an expert with robust knowledge of the immigration procedures . This way, you’re highly informed before applying for a permit or a special pass.
There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the labour market of Kenya. Just like in other parts of the world; hence Kenya immigration is keen on promoting local talents to reduce the surging unemployment rates. As a result, we have noticed an increase of rejected applications on the basis that “job can be done by a Kenyan”. This is why a trusted partner can be a strong asset. You’ll be guided and informed on the best way to present your application to maximise your success rate.
Moving with the family
Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has posed serious health concerns to foreigners planning to relocate to Kenya with their family. The family or people depending on the permit holders are eligible for a dependent pass to validate their legal stay. This application process only requires a few additional supporting documents. Family members are also eligible for an interim visa as they wait for processing and issuance of their dependant pass(es).
For those planning to continue with their education in Kenya, they’re required to apply for pupils or student pass to ensure compliance with foreign nationals’ immigration regulations. Holders of dependant pass(es) are required to apply for pupil’s pas(es) should they wish to study in the country, and it is an offence to attend education or training institution without a pupil’s pass.
The pupil’s pass is usually given to any person who wish to pursue their education in Kenya’s Education or Training Institutions where they have been accepted or admitted. The applicant (international student) must be accepted as a student by an approved Educational or Training Establishment.
The covid-19 pandemic has affected key government services across the world, and Kenya is not an exception. Various reforms and measures have been implemented to ensure continued service delivery in these unusual times. Due to the changing immigration procedures, it is advisable to have a reliable partner to ensure your seamless arrival in Africa. Moreover, incomplete automation of the immigration services has reinforced the need for immigration- business partnerships to ensure proper tracking and management of all your immigration needs.