If you’re hiring in Kenya, you should make sure your prospective employee is legally allowed to work in Kenya. Foreign nationals looking to join Kenya’s vibrant expat community need visas issued by the Kenya government before they move for work. And they often need sponsorship from registered employers like 2Max Group.

Learn about everything companies need to know regarding Kenya work visas—including the bevy of available types, eligibility criteria, and how to sponsor an applicant.

What is a work permit in Kenya?

A work permit (or work visa) in Kenya is a legal document issued by the Kenyan government that allows foreign nationals to legally enter, live, and work in the country for a specific period of time. After the visa’s expiry date, the holder either applies for an extension or returns to their home country.

Work permits—many of which are called Employment visas or E visas—are issued by Directorate of Immigration Services in Kenya. E visas are generally not available to foreign workers until they have an employment contract with a registered Kenyan company like 2Max Group, who sponsors the applicant.

Who needs a work visa in Kenya?

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Kenya are required to obtain a work permit. However, work permits are generally only granted in instances where the employer can prove that doing so would be beneficial to Kenya and the position cannot be filled by any suitable Kenyan applicants.

Kenya is consistently investing in its digital economy and putting forth initiatives that improve the skillset of the local workforce. Because of this, Kenya is an excellent country for global employers looking to expand their workforce.However, when international employers and employees partner, it’s essential that each party ensure they are legally entitled to work with one another.

How long does it take to get a work permit in Kenya?

Processing times for getting a visa depend on an applicant’s country of origin, type of visa, intended length of stay, and the workload of Kenya immigration authority. The first step to obtaining a work permit is applying at the Department of Immigration and submitting all the required documentation above. The department then presents the application to a committee for approval, which can take from two to six months, so it’s advisable to start the process as soon as you know you need a Kenyan Work visa. 2Max Group timeline varies ranging from 3 Weeks to 6 Weeks

Types of work visas in Kenya

Over the last few years, Kenya has made it more difficult for foreigners to obtain work permits and visas. From having to submit applications online and through the mail to limiting the number of hired foreign workers in favor of Kenyans, companies have to follow many of the country’s policies, some of which make it more difficult to start working with a foreign team.

Class A

A Class A Kenya work visa is specific to individuals who are moving to Kenya for prospecting and mining. To be eligible for this visa, you must have a license to mine or prospect in Kenya and prove that you are financially able to do so (at least $100,000 of investment capital).

Class B

The Class B work visa is a Kenya work visa given to individuals who will work in the animal husbandry or agricultural fields while living in the country. To be eligible for this visa, you must prove that you can obtain and afford the necessary land in Kenya to pursue this work and that this work will improve the country.

Class D

If you need a standard employment visa, the Class D visa is likely the best option. With this visa, you are entitled to work for an independent employer or the Kenyan government. However, to be eligible for this work visa, you must be qualified to perform a job that local candidates cannot fill.

Class G

The Specific Trade, Business, or Consultancy visa, also known as the Class G visa, is available to individuals who can provide unique skills that will benefit the country’s economy. To be eligible for this visa, you must prove financial stability of at least $100,000.

Class I

A Class I visa is available for individuals entering Kenya for charitable or religious purposes. Similar to other Kenya work permits, this visa requires the individual to prove their activities will be beneficial to the country.

Class K

The “ordinary resident” visa, the Class K visa, is only available to people over 35, making at least $24,000 per year from either source outside of Kenya or collections from a Kenyan annuity or pension plan. With this visa, you can live in Kenya but not accept a job.

Class M

A Class M Kenya work visa, also known as a Refugee visa, is designed for individuals who have moved to Kenya and been given refugee status within the country. The spouse of a refugee may also receive a Class M work visa if they plan to work while living there.

Kenya work visa and permits requirements

Employers who choose to hire workers living abroad gain important benefits, including a diverse workforce and access to premier talent, no matter where they choose to live.

However, with these benefits comes the responsibility of ensuring the employee is legally entitled to live in their country of residence if it’s not their country of origin. This responsibility falls on both the employee and the employer.

To receive a Kenya work permit, you must meet all the eligibility requirements and prove this to the government by providing the documentation requested on the Kenya work visa you’re applying for (e.g., Class A, Class B).

Although the work permit Kenya requirements change based on the type of work visa you’re applying for, they may include some or all of the following requirements:

  • A valid passport and a copy of your passport
  • Two passport-sized color photographs that meet the following specifications:
  • 45 mm by 35 mm in size
  • A white background
  • Your entire face visible (free of headgear or glasses) and centered in the photograph
  • A neutral facial expression (i.e., not smiling), looking into the camera
  • Your resume indicating relevant work experience
  • Proof you’re qualified to perform the job you’re being hired to do (e.g., educational credentials, professional licenses), if relevant
  • Proof of your immigration status if you’re already living in Kenya
  • A signed and completed Form 25 (Application for Issuance or Renewal of Permit)
  • This form can be electronically turned in via The Republic of Kenya’s electronic Foreign Nationals Services (eFNS) online portal.
  • A valid Police Clearance Certificate
  • Relevant company documents, including
  • A signed and completed Form 27 (Report on Employment) from the employer
  • A signed letter to the Director General of Immigration Services indicating the employee is being offered a job by the employer (this can include self-employment)
  • Tax Compliance Certificates (TCC) for both the employer and the employee (if the employee is already living in Kenya)
  • The company’s Certificate of Registration

In addition to the above requirements, employers who plan to hire individuals obtaining a Class D Kenya work visa will need to provide proof that the employee has a local Kenyan “understudy.” The understudy will work directly under the foreign national employee to learn the skills necessary to perform their job.

The company must meet the following requirements to prove they have appointed an understudy:

  • The understudy’s name
  • The understudy’s resume indicating relevant work experience
  • The understudy’s contact information (e.g., phone number, physical address, email address)
  • Proof the understudy is qualified to perform the job they’re being hired to do (e.g., educational credentials, professional licenses), if relevant

Process to Obtain Work visas in Kenya

As you move abroad or expand your global business, it’s essential to ensure that you’re complying with all the local tax and labor laws. This can get complicated for companies that employ individuals living in multiple countries, as they need to learn the compliance specifications of each country.

In Kenya, both the employer and the employee need to be involved in the employee’s visa application process. In addition, the employer must be legally able to hire employees living in the country.

Foreign nationals hoping to live and work in Kenya will be expected to obtain the correct visa to work there legally. Although this process varies based on factors such as the employee’s country of origin and the type of visa they need, the application process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Create an eCitizen single sign-on account with Kenya’s Department of Immigration Services online portal, The Republic of Kenya electronic Foreign Nationals Services (eFNS).
  2. Complete the relevant online application form(s). Note that both the employee and the employer need to be involved in the employee’s visa application process, and both parties should be prepared to fill out the necessary applications.
  3. Provide any additional individual or company information.
  4. Pay the application fee associated with the type of Kenya work visa you’re applying for. The fee can only be paid electronically; cash is not accepted.
  5. Check the online portal regularly for notifications of changes, progress, or problems with your work permit application.

How 2Max Group Can Help

We are Kenya Employer of Record Service Provider with established local Firm. We are on a mission to simplify the onboarding process for companies like you and help you manage to onboard talent from across the globe. Designed and developed by our team of in-house experts, our Global HR platform can provide all-in-one solutions to our users.

You can request a work permit in Kenya and a work visa. Our extensive team of experts will simplify your tasks by managing the entire process, including the processing time, document checklist, and the cost incurred. During the whole process, you will be kept updated about the progress.

WhatsApp/Call +254720609482 or Email: info@2maxgroup.com

FAQs about work permits for employees in Kenya

How much does it cost to get an Kenya work permit?

The cost of Kenya work visas vary depending on length of stay (a shorter duration will generally be cheaper), and registration services needed to submit an application. There are generally fees for submitting the visa application form and for processing it.From Processing fees as little as equivalent $100 to Government Issuance fees of estimated $3500 etc

Are family members included in work visa applications in Kenya?

The Kenya government typically allows visa holders to bring spouses and dependent children into the country with them. The visa holder may need to provide documents that prove the relationship such as marriage and birth certificates. They also may need to provide some proof of financial standing.

Family members may also need to submit their own applications for entry visas and pass security checks. If the primary visa holder’s application is approved, the family members are generally eligible to stay for the same duration.

How do you renew your Kenya work permit?

Not all Kenyan work visas can be renewed. But 2Max Group can help you renew your visa without a struggle.