Permanent Residence Status in Kenya
The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 is an Act of Parliament of Kenya that makes provisions for matters relating to citizenship, issuance of travel documents, immigration and connected purposes.
Under section 37 of the Act provides for qualification for the aware of a permanent residence status to Kenyan non-citizen. Under this provision, the following categories of persons are eligible, upon application in the prescribed manner, to be granted a permanent residence status in Kenya:-
- persons who were citizens by birth but have since renounced or otherwise lost their citizenship status and are precluded by the laws of the countries of their acquired domicile from holding dual citizenship;
- persons who have held work permits for at least seven (7) years and have been continuously resident in Kenya for the three (2) years immediately preceding the making of the application;
- children of citizens who are born outside Kenya and have acquired citizenship of the domicile; and
- the spouses of Kenyan citizens married for at least three (3) years.
Under section 38 of the Act, any person who has qualified for permanent residence status is entitled to, and subject to, the following rights and obligations:
(a) the right to be issued with a certificate of permanent residence;
(b) the right to enter and remain in Kenya, subject to the provisions of the Act;
(c) the right to be employed in Kenya; has the right to attend educational facilities;
(d) the right to own property legally and to move and settle anywhere in Kenya;
(e) the right to access and enjoy social services and facilities in Kenya;
(f) the obligation to comply with residency obligations as may be prescribed.
The permanent resident status can be lost under the following circumstances:
- upon acquisition of Kenya citizenship;
- upon failing to comply with obligations and conditions under section 38 of the Act;
- when a removal order against the holder of permanent residence status comes into force;
- upon communicating in writing to the Director of Immigration Services of the intention to cease holding the permanent residence status; and
- where the marriage is not bona fide.
The Act has also made provisions for persons who have acquired permanent residence status, their spouses, children and dependents to acquire Kenya citizenship.
For instance, under section 13 (1) of the Act, a person who has attained the age of majority (that is 18 years) and capacity who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven (7) years may on application be registered as a citizen if that person meet the following requirements:-
- has been ordinarily resident in Kenya for a period of seven years, immediately preceding the date of application;
- has been a resident under the authority of a valid permit or has been exempted by the Cabinet Secretary, in accordance with section 34(3)(h) and who is not enjoying the privileges and immunities under the Privileges and Immunities Act;
- has resided in Kenya throughout the period of twelve (12) months immediately preceding the date of the application;
- has an adequate knowledge of Kenya and of the duties and rights of citizens as contained in the Act.
- is able to understand and speak Kiswahili or a local dialect;
- understands the nature of the application under this provision;
- has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three (3) years or longer;
- satisfies the Cabinet Secretary that he or she intends to reside in Kenya after registration;
- has been determined, through an objective criteria, and the justification made, in writing, that he or she has made or is capable of making a substantive contribution to the progress or advancement in any area of national development within Kenya; and
- is not adjudged bankrupt.