Kenya Visa and Residency Guide

Kenya Visa

If you are a foreigner and are planning to travel to Kenya, you must obtain a Kenya visa. If you are travelling for more than tourism, i.e., for work or to live in-country, you will also need to obtain some permits. 

The type of visa and permit you get depends on why you are travelling to Kenya and how long you intend to stay. The visas and permits have different requirements, but the basic requirements include valid travel documents and flight tickets. The Kenya visa and permits application is made online via the Kenya eVisa portal

The entire application process can seem daunting. This post is about to make it easy for you. Here, you’ll find the different types of visas and permits, how to apply and navigate the online portal, and what you’ll need to do so.

Types of Kenyan Visa & Residence Permits and Passes

There are seven types of Kenya visas you can get depending on your reason for travel:

Tourist Visa

Residence and Work Permits

Permanent Residency

Special Passes

You can apply for these visas, permits, and passes on Kenya’s eVisa portal, accessed through your phone or computer. The process is straightforward and will only take a few minutes.

Kenya eVisa Application

The Kenya eVisa is an authorization document issued in PDF format, allowing visitors to travel to a Kenyan entry point.

The eVisa system was launched by the Kenya Directorate of Immigration Services to allow visitors to apply for a visa without having to visit a Kenyan diplomatic mission.

The online portal allows you to apply and receive approval for your visa in one central place.

Application Steps

To apply for an eVisa, you should:

  • Click on Create Account on the eVisa platform
  • Click on eVisa application
  • Fill application form
  • Pay Using Visa card, Mastercard and other debit or credit cards
  • Await approval, then download and print the eVisa from your eVisa account

You will need to present your printed eVisa to the immigration officer at the port of entry.

The visa processing fee is non-refundable, and it takes at least two working days to get your eVisa.

Each adult must submit eVisa applications in their personal eVisa account, but parents can apply for their children in the parents’ account.

Tourist Visas

The Kenyan and Visa Regulations define the type of visa you need to get depending on the purpose of your travel.

You can get a tourist visa through the Kenyan embassy in your country or online.

If you’re applying for the Kenya visa online, you need to sign up on the eVisa portal, fill in the application, then pay using Visa, MasterCard, or other debit cards.

For tourist visas, you must have your travel documents, travel itinerary with details about the places you’ll be visiting, hotel bookings or accommodations, and a return ticket.

Approval for the visa is made via email. You’ll be required to present the hard copies of your eVisa to the immigration officer at a port of entry in Kenya, don’t forget to download and print copies before you travel.

90 Day Single Entry Visa

This is issued for single entry to persons whose nationalities require a visa to enter Kenya for business, tourism, or medical reasons.

The 90-Day visa validity commences from the date of e-Visa approval and not of your arrival in Kenya. I would therefore advise not to apply too early before the travel date.

The single-entry visa to Kenya allows for free re-entry to Kenya if you travel within the East African Countries-Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. You don’t need an additional visa to re-enter if you’re travelling in these countries within the 90-day period. The single-entry visa will be accepted.

The cost for a single-entry visa is $51.

Visa Extension Process

Say you haven’t experienced Kenya enough and would like to stay longer than the 90 days. You can. You just need to obtain a Kenya visa extension.

You need to fill out an application form through the electronic foreign nationals services portal. You can access this if you’ve applied for a Kenya visa through the eVisa portal.

Then, you need to present the application at the Immigration Headquarters in Nairobi or at the Immigration Office in Mombasa.

The offices are open during the weekdays. The process can take a few hours, but visa extensions are usually issued on the day if you have all the required documentation.

You will need to bring 2 passport photos (look up the specific requirements for the photos on the e-visa website), your passport, and your visa to be granted a Kenya visa extension.

The Kenya tourist visa can be extended once by up to 90 days. After that, if you wish to stay longer, you will have to apply for a longer-term visa like a work or study visa.

12 Month Multiple Entry Visa

The multiple entry visa is suitable for people who need to make numerous trips to Kenya. It’s mostly common with businesspeople who travel to Kenya for work and students.

In addition to the standard Kenya eVisa requirements, there are a few additional requirements when applying for the multiple-entry visa. This extra documentation is needed to justify numerous trips into the country.

For business, you will need: 

  • A letter from the company or employer giving the reason for the multiple trips to Kenya. 
  • Or an invitation letter from the host or organization you’re visiting in Kenya. 
  • Or a recommendation letter from the employer that states the trip’s reason.

If you’re a student, you will need a letter from your school.

For business, you will also need: 

  • A copy of contract or staff identification card. 
  • Copy of registration certificate of the host company.

You must also have a minimum of 3 previous visas (single or multiple entry).

If you’re traveling for tourism purposes, you need: 

  • Proof of travel in the form of hotel bookings or other Kenyan accommodation reservations.

If you’re visiting family, you’ll need: 

  • Invitation letters from family. 
  • Identity card, passport, alien card. 
  • Entry permit of your host.

You can either make your multiple-entry visa request in person at the immigration offices in Nairobi or send your application via courier or the postal service.

Unlike the single-entry visa, the multiple entry visa takes longer to be processed. The visa should be ready for collection the following working day if there are no issues with your form and all your supporting documents are present.

Since copies of previous visas for Kenya must be provided, I advise you to apply for the single-entry visa if you’re a first-time visitor.

If you’re not a first-time visitor but cannot provide all the additional supporting documentation, apply for a single-entry visa, then request another eVisa when you need to return.

A multiple-entry visa is more expensive than the single-entry fee and depends on the number of trips you make to Kenya.

5 Year Multiple Entry Visa

This visa is issued to USA nationals who require a visa to enter Kenya either for business or tourism.

To apply for this visa, you’ll need your identity documents- a clear passport biodata page and a clear photograph.

For business visits, you’ll need: 

  • An invitation letter from the company or invitation letter for business visits and 
  • Copies of registration of the company.

For family visits, you’ll need: 

  • Invitation letters from family. 
  • Identity card, passport, alien card, or entry permit of your host.

For tourists, you’ll need your travel itinerary – details about places to visit if going as a tourist and hotel bookings.

The application for this visa costs $201.

East Africa Tourist Visa

This is a joint tourist visa issued to persons traveling to and within Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

The visa is valid for three months from the date of issue.

An East Africa Visa Sticker will be issued at the point of entry in Kenya. When travelling within these countries, present the eVisa printout to immigration control at the point of entry. 

To apply for this visa, you’ll need your identity documents- a clear passport biodata page and a clear photograph.

For business visits, you’ll need an invitation letter from the company or invitation letter for business visits and copies of registration of the company.

For family visits, you need invitation letters from family, Identity card, passport, alien card, or entry permit of the host.

For tourists, you’ll need your travel itinerary- details about places to visit if going as a tourist and hotel bookings.

The application for this visa costs $101.

Transit Visa

The transit visa is issued to you if you’re connecting through Kenya to other destinations for a period not exceeding 72 hours.

The application for this visa requires valid travel documents and your round-trip ticket. Additionally, you’ll need your identity documents- a clear passport biodata page and a clear photograph.

You don’t need to apply for transit visas if you’re connecting flights directly without leaving the airport.

It costs $21 to apply for this visa.

Courtesy Visa

A courtesy visa is issued to diplomatic, official, and service passport holders coming into the country on official duties or transiting through Kenya to a third country for official business or duties.

To be given this visa, you must have valid travel documentation, be a holder of a service, official and diplomatic passport, hold an official letter from the country of origin, organization, or foreign affairs. You’ll also need a round-trip ticket or a boarding pass for passengers on transit.

The Kenyan visa regulations apply if you fall under category three of the visa regime-nationals of countries that require a referral visa.

A Kenya courtesy visa is free.

Residence and Work Permits

Before you can take up employment in Kenya, whether paid or unpaid or engage in any business or long-term residence, you must apply for a residence or work permit from the Kenya Director of Immigration Services office.

This can be for gainful employment or voluntary service.

The permits are classified into different categories and classes. They vary depending on your circumstances and activities in Kenya.

Work Permits

You can successfully and peacefully work in Kenya, if you have obtained a work permit.

There are several types of work permits, depending on your activities. Work permits are typically issued for two years. Application fees are only payable upon receipt of an approval notification.

If you are applying for a work permit renewal, you need to apply three months before the current work permit’s expiry date.

General requirements for work permits include;

  •  Duly filled and signed application Form 3
  • Covering letter from employer, self, or organization depending on the class (as applicable)
  • Copies of the National Passport
  • Two coloured passport size photographs

Residence Permit Class D: Employment

This permit is issued to a person who is offered specific employment by a specific employer, the government of Kenya, or any other person or authority under the control of the government.

This is also offered to employees on an approved technical aid scheme under the United Nations Organization or approved agencies.

These employees must have been determined to have skills or qualifications that are not available in Kenya and whose engagement in that employment will benefit Kenya.

The annual fee for the permit is $2000. 

The application and additional requirements for the permit are here.

Residence Permit Class C: Prescribed Profession

This permit is issued to a person who is a member of a prescribed profession who intends to practice that profession, whether alone or in partnership in Kenya.

The prescribed professions include:

  • Medical profession 
  • Dentists 
  • Legal profession
  • Surveyors 
  • Estate Agent 
  • Valuer and Land Agent
  • Architects or Quantity surveyors 
  • Pharmacists 
  • Veterinary Surgeons
  • Engineers
  • Nursing Profession 
  • Physiotherapists 
  • Accountants 
  • Chartered Secretaries 
  • Actuaries
  • Scientists 
  • Information and Communication Technology Experts

You’ll need to have the prescribed qualification for the profession, enough capital, and resources to practice your profession. The profession should also have been determined to benefit Kenya.

The application and additional requirements for the permit are here.

Residence Permit Class G: Specific Trade, Business, or Consultancy

If you intend to engage in a specific trade, business, consultancy, or profession in Kenya alone or in partnership, then this is the permit you need. The profession cannot be a prescribed profession. Otherwise, you would need to apply for the prescribed profession permit.

To get this permit, you need to have obtained any licence, registration, or other authority or permission that may be necessary for the specific trade, business, or consultancy.

You must also have sufficient capital and other resources for the specific trade, business, or consultancy, and your engagement in it should Kenya.

The processing fee for this permit is $100, and it is non-refundable. After that, you need to pay $1,000 payable annually as the work permit fees.

Find the additional requirements and application process for the permit here.

Residence Permit Class K: Ordinary Residents 

This permit is issued to those who have an assured income derived from sources outside of Kenya and have agreed not to accept paid employment of any kind.

To apply, you should not be less than 35 years of age. You should have an assured annual income of not less than $24,000 derived from sources outside of Kenya.

By applying for this permit, you agree not to accept employment or engage in any work without a permit.

The processing fee is $100 and is non-refundable.

You can find more requirements and application process for this permit here.

Volunteering

There are many types of volunteer work in Kenya. Most common include teaching, volunteering with wildlife conservation, and volunteering with health-related projects. 

There is currently no specific volunteer visa for Kenya.

However, different charity or volunteer organizations have their own policies and recommendations on which visa their volunteers should obtain. In some cases, these organizations plan for work permits or work visas for their volunteers.

For the most part, a Kenyan tourist visa is usually sufficient for volunteering purposes. You should, however, consult the charity or volunteer organization before making travel arrangements.

Missionary Visa

Missionary visa is covered under the Residence Permit Class I: Approved Religious or Charitable Activities.

This permit is issued to a person who is a member of a missionary society approved by the Government of Kenya and whose presence in Kenya will be of benefit to Kenya. The institution should be registered under the Kenya’s Society’s Act.

You must have a copy of the registration certificate of the organization, your academic and professional certificates, and a non-refundable processing fee of $10.

In addition, you need to provide a valid organization Tax Compliance Certificate. When renewing the permit, you should provide both organization and individual Tax Compliance Certificates from the Kenya Revenue Authority.

The annual work permit fee is $50.

Find the additional requirements and application process for the permit here.

Permanent Residence

Kenya’s constitution allows anyone interested in becoming a Kenyan citizen, their spouses, and children to apply for permanent residency if they comply and meet the prescribed requirements.

There are four ways to gain permanent residency in Kenya. Each category has different requirements and fees.

Application for Permanent Residency by Ex-Citizens of Kenya- Category A

This applies to Kenya citizens by birth who had renounced or lost Kenyan citizenship status at the time of application, who have been denied dual citizenship by their countries of domicile and their children and spouses.

The requirements include;

  • An application letter
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths.
  • A printout of the duly filled Category A – Questionnaire for Intending Applicants which is generated upon completion of the online application.
  • Proof of Previous Kenya Citizenship-Copy of birth certificate/ Identity card or Passport
  • 2 Recent passport size photographs (a soft copy will also be required during application)
  • Police Clearance Certificate issued by the country of domicile
  • Proof of current citizenship (Registration/naturalization certificate and Passport)
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate.

The processing fee for this application is $100. Once your application is approved, you will need to pay a one-time issuance fee of $ 150.

You can find more details on the requirements and application process here.

Application for Permanent Residency by Holders of Work Permits- Category B

This applies to persons who have held Kenya work permits for at least seven years and are interested in permanently living in the country. You need to have been continuously living in the country for three years immediately preceding your permanent residence application.

It also includes your spouse and children.

You must demonstrate a strong position to make tangible contributions to the socio-economic development of the country. Priority is often given to investors and highly qualified professionals.

For this application, you may be required to appear in person for an interview to confirm or verify some of the facts provided.

The requirements for the application include;

  • An application letter
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths.
  • A filled Category B – Questionnaire for Intending Applicants, which is generated upon completion of the online application.
  • Duly filled Residence status form, which is generated automatically after completion of your application
  • Copy of valid passport
  • 2 passport size photographs (a soft copy will also be required during application)
  • Police Clearance Certificate (Original)
  • Copy of valid tax compliance certificate
  • Copy of valid foreigner certificate (Alien card)
  • Introductory letter from employer (applicable for employees)
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate.

The application processing fee is a non-refundable $100, and the issuance fee is a one-time $5000.

You can find more on the application process and requirement details for your spouse or children here.

Application for Permanent Residency by Children of Kenya Citizens- Category C

This applies to children of Kenya Citizens born outside the country and have acquired foreign citizenship of their country of residence/domicile.

The requirements include;

  • An application letter
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths.
  • A filled Category C – Questionnaire for Intending Applicants, which is generated upon completion of the online application.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificate
  • Certified copies of the parents’ birth certificates/ Kenya Passport(s)/ Identity Card(s) (proof of Kenya citizenship)
  • Certified copy of the current passport
  • 2 passport size photographs (a soft copy will also be required during application)
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate

You can find more on the application process and requirement details here.

Application for Permanent Residency by Spouses of Kenya Citizens- Category D

This applies to spouses of Kenya citizens married for at least three years.

You must give ample proof of marriage and family life besides documentation like marriage certificates. In this category, you may be required to appear in person for an interview to confirm or verify these facts.

The requirements include;

  • An application letter by Kenyan spouse
  • A printout of the duly filled permanent residence application form (form 23) signed and stamped by Magistrate/Commissioner for oaths.
  • A duly filled Category D – Questionnaire for Intending Applicants which is generated upon completion of the online application.
  • Duly filled Residence status form generated automatically upon completion of the online application.
  • Police Clearance Certificate (Original)
  • Demonstrate marriage and family life
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate
  • Copies of either passport/Identity card/ and birth certificate of Kenyan spouse
  • Copy of passport /birth certificate/ of the foreign spouse
  • Copies of work permit(s)/dependant pass of spouse
  • 2 passport size photographs (a soft copy will also be required during application)
  • Copy of valid foreigner certificate (Alien card)
  • Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate

The processing fee costs $50, which is non-refundable, and you will need to pay a one-time issuance fee of $500.

Special Passes

There are three main types of passes issued in Kenya. These are special passes, dependent passes, and student, research, or internship passes.

Application for a Special Pass

The special pass is issued to you for a limited period. You can apply for one if you are requesting a review of a denied permit request.

You can also opt for a special pass when you are in the process of applying for a permit or pass or if you are temporarily conducting any business, trade, or profession in the country.

 You apply for a special pass through the electronic foreign nationals services portal. Once your application is approved, an invoice will be generated, which you can see by clicking on “Dashboard” then “Payments on the website.

 Your pass will be rendered null and void if you fail to pay for it within thirty days from the date of approval notification.

 You can find more details on the requirements and application process here.

Application for a Dependant Pass

This pass is issued to you if your spouse, parent, or guardian is lawfully entitled to enter Kenya. It is issued to dependents of Kenya Citizens, permit holders, exempted persons, and permanent residents.

You apply for a special pass through the electronic foreign nationals services portal.

It’s important to note that a dependant’s pass does not entitle you to receive education or training in any establishment within Kenya without a valid pupil’s pass. It is an offence while in possession of a dependent pass to engage in any form of trade or employment either for gain or not.

You can find more details on the requirements and application for this pass here.

Application for a Student, Research, Internship Pass

The Kenya Students Pass is meant for international students who wish to pursue their education in Kenya’s Education or Training Institutions where they have been accepted or admitted.

You must be accepted as a student by an approved Educational or Training Establishment to qualify for this pass.

Kenya Internship or Research Pass, on the other hand, is meant for anyone seeking to enter and remain in Kenya to undertake an internship or academic research within Kenya.

You must have been accepted as an intern or researcher in an institution within Kenya before applying for this pass.

You can find more details on the requirements and application student, research, or internship pass here.

The digitized visa application process has made applying for a Kenya visa, permits, and passes simple and easy. As long as you have all the required documentation, you can be done in about ten minutes. Kenya’s immigration department is also very responsive online, and on social media. You will get prompt replies to your questions if you need any clarifications.

 If you’ve used Kenya’s eVisa, let us know how the process went below. You can also leave tips and tricks for a smooth visa and permits application process for other residents and tourists.

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