Key Immigration and Work Permit Policies to Shield your Business

Studies reveal that the adult literacy rate in Kenya is approximately 81 % making Kenya a hotbed of opportunities for both local and foreign investors. Owing to this, foreign investors have over the years set up various businesses in the country. In addition, the government is constantly working and implementing reforms to attract more investors.

But before making that huge investment, it is essential to have a clear understanding of important policies to ensure you do not lose your money.  Working with a recognized law firm is vital as it helps you access proper documentation for your business.

Key Pointers to Consider before Making an Investment

What’s your impact on Kenya’s economy? One of the factors to be considered by the Kenyan authorities will be how much your business will contribute to the country. Before setting out, be sure to evaluate the market conditions, needs, and flexibility.

How many jobs will the company provide?  Kenya, being a developing country, has a rising need for job opportunities.

Nationality plays a big part in influencing whether your work permits get approved. Applicants from stronger economies than Kenya have higher chances of acquiring the opportunity. Additionally, countries with low rates of criminal activities or potential security threats also have better chances at attaining the permit.

After carefully evaluating your business, the success rate as well as the impact on the country, now to the next step.

With no further ado, let’s get right into it.

Setting up a Branch of your Company

You will be required to avail copies of Certificate of incorporation of your company as well Memorandum & Articles of Association all of which must be notarized. The branch must have a Kenyan director to be allowed to operate. You will, therefore, be required to present copies of his/her Identity (ID) Card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) Certificate. You (foreign national) will present a copy of your passport. All directors must present two colored passport photos. 

The process of registering the company will be mainly, but not entirely, digital. Guidance on this can be sought from a recognized law firm.

  • One is then issued with a Certificate of incorporation.
  • Essential Immigration and Work Permit Conditions
  • Obtain a Work Permit

Before settling and working in Kenya as an employer or employee, you need to obtain a work permit. The criteria used to offer work permits in most cases require the employer or company to provide services or products where Kenyans are lacking.

The directorate of immigration services issues the work permit.  However, before the issuance of the permit, the application goes through an inter-ministerial and Permit Determination committee. The approval time varies and may take between three to six months.

At the first instance, an applicant will need proof of ability to work; a letter from his employer or if a company, a certificate of incorporation issued by the Kenyan government as well as Memorandum & Articles of Association and a bank statement showing ability to invest at least Ten Million Kenya Shillings (approximately 100,000 USD).

One will then pay the recommended fees depending on the number of years one seeks to work in Kenya.

Work Permit Renewal

The Kenyan government does not have a limited number of work permit renewals but requires investors to renew their contract with the government every two years. The application for the permit renewal should be made three months before the expiry date.

Document Requirements

Though each business field requires different documentation, some of the standard document requirements across the board include:

  • Duly filled and signed application form.
  • Cover letter from relevant employer, organization or self.
  • The application form fee.
  • A copy of the foreign national’s passport.
  • Two colored passport photographs.

Bottom Line

For a successful work or business permit in Kenya, it is advisable to work closely with a reputable law firm. At Kinyua Mwaniki & Wainaina Advocates, you are assured of a successful acquisition of legal documentation for your business.


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