Kenya Immigration and Visas
Whether you are visiting, working, investing or moving to Kenya, there are some paperwork and fees involved. The process is quite standard with clear guidelines and fee structures, but with payments and regulations that vary depending on the country of origin and the reason for the visa or immigration.
With the threat of global terrorism and the kidnapping of foreigners by terrorists on Kenyan soil, especially near the border with Somalia, in Garissa County and the coastal areas north of Pate Island, the entry of foreigners into Kenya is strictly regulated. Contact the Kenyan embassy in your country for travel advice.
Entry points in Kenya
Strategically located, Kenya allows entry into its borders by road from neighboring Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, by sea across the Indian Ocean and by air through its international airports, Moi International Airport and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. See the Kenya Transport Information article for more information.
Visa requirements for Kenya
Any foreigner who intends to enter Kenya for various reasons must meet certain conditions:
- The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry
- It is important that your passport is valid for at least six months after the end of your visit
- The immigration department will require you to have at least two blank visa pages in your passport that are not stamped (for use in any exit and entry stamps). Missing blank pages may indicate refusal/difficulties in receiving a record.
Depending on which country you come from, you may need a visa to enter Kenya.
Citizens of neighboring East African countries are not required to have a visa, they simply use a visitor’s pass from the immigration department at the airport or border posts.
- Visas are also not required for citizens of some listed overseas countries such as the Bahamas, Cyprus, Gambia, Seychelles and Singapore, among others (although the list changes regularly).
- However, there are nationals who cannot enter Kenya without prior visas, such as citizens of Iraq, Libya, Somalia, as well as stateless persons, etc. This list is also subject to frequent changes.
There are two ways to get a Kenya visa:
- At the airport on arrival, though often tedious and marred by delays
- Advance requests
Regardless of the type of visit you intend to make, there are two main visa options:
- Single entry visa
- It allows only one entry into the country.
- Multiple entry visa
- Allows multiple entries into the country. You may need three copies of the required documentation and pay more for this type of visa.
Both options require submission of specific documents:
- Official visa application forms
- Letter of motivation for application or copies of invitation
- Copies of your passport
- Recently taken passport size photos
- Any other important documents that are consistent with your purpose of entering Kenya, such as a work permit or marriage certificate for spousal visits.
- Since July 2011, every visa applicant, regardless of age and visa methods, must pay a fee of USD 50 for a single-entry visa and double the amount to obtain a multiple-entry visa.
Work and residence permits
If you intend to work and live in Kenya, you are required to obtain appropriate prior work and residence permits, which are often difficult to obtain in time.
Working or living in Kenya, in any sector and in any capacity, without a permit is illegal.
- The application for a work and residence permit is included in the visa application process.
- There are twelve different classes of permits depending on the reason for entry into Kenya.
- Class A: covers specific work offered by a specific employer, such as foreign employees
- Class C: covers humanitarian workers in aid organizations such as the United Nations
- Class E: covers foreign missionaries working in Kenya
- Class K: Covers independent wealthy foreigners hoping to settle in the country
You may need to get a yellow fever shot, especially if you come from nations with a high risk of yellow fever transmission.
To get more information about visa and immigration procedures and laws or for travel advice, please visit the Kenyan Embassy website in your country. Additional information such as price lists and entry points can be found on the Kenya Immigration Department website, http://www.immigration.go.ke.
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