Citizenship

Citizenship is the relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn, is entitled to its protection. Citizenship implies the status of freedom with accompanying responsibilities.

Citizens have certain rights, duties, and responsibilities that are denied or only partially extended to aliens and other noncitizens residing in a country.

In general, full political rights, including the right to vote and to hold public office, are predicated upon citizenship. The usual responsibilities of citizenship are allegiance, taxation, and military service.

In Kenya, Citizenship may be acquired by birth or registration and is not lost through marriage or the dissolution of marriage.

APPLICABLE LAWS

  1. The Kenyan Constitution provides for the issues ofCitizenship inChapter 3.
  2. The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 which implements Chapter 3 of the Constitution commenced on 30th August 2011
  3. The Act effectively repealed the Kenya Citizenship Act Cap. 170, the Immigration Act Cap. 172 and the Aliens Restriction Act, Cap. 173, Laws of Kenya.

NATIONALITY OF A CHILD BORN ABROAD TO A KENYAN PARENT

The Kenyan constitution states that “a person is a citizen by birth if on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not the person is born in Kenya, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen” (Art. 14.1). 

Children born abroad and who have at least one parent with Kenyan citizenship, are automatically Kenyan citizens by birth.  They may, therefore, apply for a Kenyan passport.  It is also recommended that they apply for a “birth certificate for children born abroad”, which serves as the child’s registration in Kenya. 

Section 13(3) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides: A child of a citizen by registration who was born before the parent acquired citizenship may on application by the parent or legal guardian be registered as a Kenya Citizen upon—

  • Production of documents conferring Kenyan Citizenship to any of the parents;
  • Production of the child’s birth certificate; and
  • Proof of lawful residence of the child in Kenya.

Section 14 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides: A child who is not a citizen, but is adopted by a citizen, is entitled on application in the prescribed manner by the adopting parent or legal guardian to be registered as a citizen upon—

  • the production of proof of the Kenyan citizenship of the adopting parent;
  • the production of a valid adoption certificate issued in a reciprocating state or other jurisdiction whose orders, decrees are recognized in Kenya; and
  • proof of lawful residence of the child in Kenya.

Required documents:

  1. A printed online application Form 11
  2. 2 passport size photographs
  3. Copy of birth certificate or local adoption certificate
  4. Copy of parents Kenyan passport and Certificate of Registration
  5. Copy of dependants pass
  6. Copy of parent’s identity card
  7. Copy of applicant’s passport
  8. Certificate of good conduct for children 18 years and above
  9. Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate
  10. Processing fee of Kshs. 20,000

NON-KENYANS WISHING TO APPLY FOR KENYAN CITIZENSHIP

Foreign nationals wishing to apply for Kenyan citizenship can apply for registration to be a citizen after having residence in Kenya. Section 13(1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provide:

A person who has attained the age of majority and capacity who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years may on application be registered as a citizen if that person—

  1. has been ordinarily resident in Kenya for a period of seven years, immediately preceding the date of application;
  2. 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 (Cap. 179);
  3. has resided in Kenya throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application;
  4. has an adequate knowledge of Kenya and of the duties and rights of citizens as contained in this act;
  5. is able to understand and speak Kiswahili or a local dialect;
  6. understands the nature of the application under subsection (1);
  7. has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer;
  8. satisfies the Cabinet Secretary that he or she intends to reside in Kenya after registration;
  9. 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
  10. is not an adjudged bankrupt.

Required documents for application:

  1. A printed online application form 10
  2. 2 passport size photographs
  3. Questionnaire (Print the questionnaire after completing your application)
  4. Permit held for the last 7 years
  5. Certificate of good conduct
  6. Letter of proof of contribution made in national development
  7. Personal bank statement
  8. Applicant’s passport copy
  9. Declaration Concerning Residence (Form N)
  10. Oath of allegiance
  11. Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate
  12. Processing fee of Kshs. 200,000

NB: Proof of residence may include children’s birth certificates, property ownership, welfare/association membership, utility bills or receipts, school certificates etc

DUAL CITIZENSHIP

The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy.

Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice.

  1.  According to the new constitution, anyone holding citizenship of another country is automatically recognized as a citizen of Kenya by birth, so long as they are able to prove that one or both of their parents is/was a Kenyan citizen at the time of their birth (e.g. by presenting the parent’s/parents’ national ID card(s) or passport(s);
  2. Kenyan citizens by birth who wish to obtain the citizenship of another country which does not allow dual citizenship, may voluntarily renounce their Kenyan citizenship.  They are entitled to regain their Kenyan citizenship at a later date by applying in the prescribed manner;
  3. Kenyan citizens by birth who voluntarily renounced their Kenyan nationality when acquiring the citizenship of another country (in accordance with the repealed constitution), are entitled to regain their citizenship by applying in the prescribed manner. The procedure, undertaken by the Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, may take a period of one year or more;
  4. Kenyan citizens who hold dual citizenship and have renounced or lost their Kenyan citizenship at the age of twenty-three (23) (in accordance with the repealed constitution), are automatically considered a Kenyan citizen by birth and may apply for citizenship in the prescribed manner;
  5. Kenyan citizens who obtain the citizenship of another country are required to disclose their other (non-Kenyan) citizenship within three months of becoming a dual citizen.  Failure to do so is an offence;
  6. Section 8(3) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides that: every dual citizen shall disclose his/her other citizenship in the prescribed manner within three months of becoming a dual citizen; and
  7. Section 8(4) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides that: a dual citizen who fails to disclose the dual citizenship in the prescribed manner commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.

The requirements include:-

  1. Declaration form 3 duly completed and Notarized with official stamps.
  2. Two(2) current passport size photographs
  3. Kenyan National Identity Card (original and copies);
  4. Original Kenya passport;
  5. Non-Kenyan passport;
  6. Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship; and
  7. Copy of Police Clearance Certificate

VISA EXEMPTION/PASSPORT ENDORSEMENT

Section 8(1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulation 2012 provides that the passport of any other country that is held by a dual citizen may, upon application by the holder, be endorsed to indicate that the holder is a citizen of Kenya.

Kenyan citizens who hold dual citizenship are exempt from visa requirement when travelling to Kenya using their non-Kenyan passport. They may apply to have their non-Kenyan passport endorsed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or at the Department of Immigration (Citizenship Section).

Requirements for endorsement

  1. Duly completed application Form 4
  2. 2 passport size photos
  3. copy of birth certificate
  4. copy of Kenyan passport and/or Identity Card of the applicant
  5. Copy of other country passport and citizenship certificate
  6. Current police clearance certificate
  7. Processing fee of Kshs. 500

CITIZENSHIP BY MARRIAGE

Section 11 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides for a person who has been married to a citizen of Kenya for a period of at least seven years shall be entitled, on application, in the prescribed manner to be registered as a citizen of Kenya, if

  • the marriage was solemnized under a system of law recognized in Kenya, whether solemnized in Kenya or outside Kenya;
  • the applicant has not been declared a prohibited immigrant under this Act or any other law;
  • the applicant has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer;
  • the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship; and
  • the marriage was subsisting at the time of the application.

Requirements

  1. Duly filled Form 8
  2. Duly filled in Questionnare
  3. 2 recent coloured passport size photos
  4. copy of marriage certificate
  5. original certificate of good conduct
  6. passport copy of applicant and Kenyan spouse
  7. a joint sworn affidavit of marriage
  8. copy of dependent’s pass/permit
  9. processing fee of Kshs. 30,000 for non-EA and 5000/- for East Africans

REGAINING KENYAN CITIZENSHIP 

Section 10(1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides that: –

  1. A person who was a citizen of Kenya by birth and who ceased to be a citizen of Kenya because he or she acquired the citizenship of another country may apply in the prescribed manner, to the Cabinet Secretary to regain Kenyan citizenship; and
  2. The application under subsection
  3. Shall be accompanied by—
  4. Proof of applicant’s previous Kenyan citizenship;
  5. Proof of citizenship of the other country;

The requirements for regaining citizenship include: –

  1. Duly filled and signed Form1
  2. Copy of Kenyan passport previously held;
  3. Copy of National Identity Card previously held;
  4. Copy of birth certificate issued by Government of Kenya at birth;
  5. Copy of Passport of the other country;
  6. 2 coloured clear passport size photographs not less than 6 months. 
  7. Fee of Kshs. 5000
  8. Copy of the certificate of naturalization if not in English must be translated into English.

VOLUNTARY RENUNCIATION OF CITIZENSHIP

Declaration of Voluntary Renunciation of Kenyan Citizenship proceeds from section 19 (1) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 which provides that where a Kenyan citizen by birth voluntarily makes a declaration of renunciation of Kenyan citizenship, in the prescribed manner, the Cabinet Secretary shall cause the declaration to be registered.

What are the requirements: –

  1. Duly completed Form 6 and Notarized with official stamps.
  2. 2 current colored passport size photos
  3. Original and copy of Kenyan National Identity card;
  4. Copy of other country’s passport or proof of citizenship;
  5. Copy of Birth Certificate;
  6. Fee of  Kshs. 20,000

Applicants wishing to regain/renounce their Kenyan citizenship, to disclose their dual citizenship or to have their non-Kenyan passport endorsed at the Kenyan embassy, must present themselves with their original passport/ID card/citizenship certificate, so that the embassy can verify authenticity.

MIGRANT CITIZENSHIP (RESIDENT SINCE 1963)

Section 16 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 provides:

  • A person who voluntarily migrated into Kenya before the 12th December, 1963, and has been continuously living in Kenya shall be deemed to have been lawfully resident and may, on application in a prescribed manner, be eligible to be registered as a citizen of Kenya if that person—
    • does not hold a passport or an identification document of any other country;
    • has adequate knowledge of Kiswahili or a local dialect;
    • has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer;
    • intends upon registration as a citizen to continue to permanently reside in Kenya or to maintain a close and continuing association with Kenya; and
    • the person understands the rights and duties of a citizen.

The required documents are as follows:

  1. A printed online application Form 14
  2. 2 passport size photographs
  3. Certificate of good conduct
  4. Sworn affidavit of not holding a passport or an identification document of any other country
  5. Proof of residence in Kenya since 12/12/1963
  6. A sworn affidavit of the continuous residence in Kenya
  7. Copy of the Police Clearance Certificate
  8. Processing fee of Kshs. 2000

HOW TO APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP SERVICES

  • Create a log in account within the Government of Kenya Single Sign On portal
  • Log in using the account you have created above to access eFNS portal
  • Once logged in the eFNS portal, select the “Apply now” Link
  • Click on the “Submit Applications” tab and select the relevant tab. If you are already logged in to eFNS, you can click here to make an application.
  • You shall receive automatic notifications via email and on your online account about the progress of your application
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Silvana
Silvana
Silvana & Associates Advocates is a premier medium-sized law firm established in 2014 and based in the Metropolitan City of Nairobi. We offer Corporate and Commercial Law services.
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