> How to become a Kenyan Citizen

> How to become a Kenyan Citizen

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Chapter 3 of the Constitution provides that a person can acquire Kenyan citizenship by birth, or by registration.

1. By birth

Article 14 of the Constitution provides that a person acquires citizenship by birth if:

i.  One or both parents are a Kenyan citizen at the time of birth, whether or not the person is born within Kenya; or

ii.  They are a child below the age of 8 years found in Kenya and whose nationality and parents are unknown.

NB: A child whose parents are foreigners and is born in Kenya does not qualify to acquire citizenship by birth unlike in some other jurisdictions which apply “birthright citizenship” for anyone born in the country. E.g. USA & Canada.

2. By registration

A foreigner may on application be eligible for citizenship in the following ways:

i.    They are married to a Kenyan citizen for 7 years;

ii.   They have lawfully resided in Kenya for more than 7 years;

iii.  They were adopted as a child by Kenyan citizens;

iv.  They are stateless persons or immigrants; or

v.   They are a child or descendant of a stateless person or immigrant.

a.  Citizenship by marriage

Section 11 of Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act (KCIA) provides that a person married to a Kenyan citizen for more than 7 years and is a resident is entitled to apply for citizenship if:

i.    The marriage was solemnised under Kenyan law/legal system recognised in Kenya;

ii.   The applicant is not a prohibited immigrant under section 33(1) of KCIA;

i.    The applicant has not been convicted of an offence punishable for 3 or more years in prison.

iii.  The marriage was not entered into for purposes of acquiring citizenship; and

iv.  The marriage is still subsisting at the time of application.

Section 12 provides that foreign widows and widowers of Kenyan citizens may apply for citizenship at least 7 years after the date of marriage. This claim to citizenship is forfeited if the applicant marries a non-citizen before the lapse of 7 years.

Documents required

1.   Duly filled and sworn application form downloaded from eFNS.

2.  Duly sworn declaration regarding residence and citizenship.

3.  Application letter addressed to the Director of Immigration Services.

4.  Filled citizenship questionnaire form downloaded from eFNS.

5.  Certified copy of marriage certificate.

6.  Original certificate of good conduct.

7.  Duly sworn joint affidavit by the applicant and spouse; or by the applicant only if widowed.

8. Copy of spouse’s Kenyan passport/ID or certified copy of spouse’s death certificate if widowed.

9. Copy of current residency/pass or entry document.

10. Copy of child’s pass or entry document if any.

11. Certified passport copy.

12. 2 passport size photographs.

b. Citizenship by lawful residence

Section 13 of KCIA provides that an adult person who has been lawfully resident in Kenya may apply to be registered as a citizen if they:

i.    Have been resident in Kenya for at least 7 years preceding the application;

ii.   Have been resident in Kenya under a valid residence permit;

iii.  Have been resident in Kenya throughout the 12 months preceding the application. This means that one must maintain their residency status by having a valid pass/permit during the period;

iv.  Have adequate knowledge of Kenya and the rights and duties of a citizen;

v.   Understand and speak Kiswahili or other local language;

vi.  Have not been convicted of an offence punishable by 3 or more years of imprisonment;

vii. Prove that they intend to reside in Kenya;

viii. Demonstrate that they have been making a substantial contribution to progress in any sector or industry in Kenya; and

ix.  Are not adjudged bankrupt.

Required documents

1.   Duly filled and sworn application form downloaded from eFNS.

2.  2 passport size photographs

3.  Filled Questionnaire downloaded from eFNS.

4.  Residency permit(s) for the past 7 years

5.  Certificate of good conduct

6.  Application letter by the applicant demonstrating contribution towards national development

7.  Letter of recommendation from an individual or organisation demonstrating contribution towards national development

8.   Personal bank statement

9.   Applicant’s passport copy

10.  Proof of residence. (click to get the document )

c.  Citizenship by adoption

Section 14 of KCIA provides that A Kenyan parent who adopts a foreign child can apply for citizenship for the child.

Required documents

1.    Duly filled and sworn application form downloaded from eFNS.

2.   Birth certificate or adoption certificate.

3.   Copy of parent’s ID and passport.

4.   Copy of permit/pass.

5.   Certificate of good conduct if above 18 years.

6.   2 passport size photographs

d. Citizenship for the descendants of stateless persons and immigrants

Section 17 of the KCIA provides for citizenship for adult persons whose parents are/were stateless or immigrant as per sections 15 and 16 if:

i.    They have sufficient proof of the parents’ statelessness/immigrant status;

ii.   They were born and have been living in Kenya;

iii.   They have never held identification documents of another country;

iv.   They understand and speak Kiswahili or other local language;

v.    Have not been convicted and imprisoned for more than 3 years;

vi.   They intend to live in Kenya or maintain a close association with Kenya; and

vii.  Understand the rights and duties of a citizen of Kenya.

Required documents

1.    Duly filled and sworn application form downloaded from eFNS.

2.    Birth certificate.

3.    Certificate of good conduct.

4.    Proof of residence in Kenya since birth.

5.    Sworn affidavit of continuous presence in Kenya.

6.    2 passport size photographs

e. Citizenship for stateless persons and immigrants

Sections 15 and 16 of the KCIA provide for citizenship for stateless persons and immigrants respectively. Stateless persons are those who lack citizenship of any country while migrants are those who voluntarily relocated to Kenya before independence. The registration under these categories was limited to 5 years after the enactment of KCIA in 2011, which was further extended by 2 years and lapsed in 2018.

Application process for citizenship

1.   Log in to your electronic Foreign Nationals Services (eFNS) account and select apply now.

2. Select the category of application (e.g. application for citizenship by marriage/lawful residence. Etc.)

3.   Fill in the required information and upload documents.

4.   Pay the application fees.

5. The applicant will receive a notification from the Immigration Department on email and on their eFNS portal.

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