How a Refugee Can Become a Kenyan citizen



It’s possible,if you are a refugee who is residing in Kenya,you can become a Kenyan citizen.A refugee can also lose his/her citizenship through the following circumstances:

  • has committed a “crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity”;
  • has committed a serious nonpolitical crime in or outside of Kenya;
  • has committed acts “contrary to the purposes of the United Nations or the African Union”; or
  • holds dual citizenship and could seek protection in one of the countries of his citizenship, and therefore does not have a well-founded fear of persecution

The Refugees Act prohibits refoulement, stating that “[n]o person shall be refused entry into Kenya, expelled, extradited from Kenya or returned to any other country or to subjected [sic] any similar measure” if doing so would result in the persecution of the person or endanger his life, physical integrity, or liberty.

For those who want to be Kenyan citizens, here is useful information for you.

A path to naturalization is apparently not available to refugees.  The 2010 Kenyan Constitution provides that “[a] person who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years” and who meets other conditions prescribed in the relevant legislation may be naturalized.  Kenyan law on citizenship provides additional conditions, including the ability to speak Kiswahili or a local language and the capacity to make a substantive contribution to Kenya’s development. However, in practice, Kenya does not appear to grant citizenship to refugees.

This information means that if you stay in Kenya for at least 7 years, you have a right to apply for citizenship.

Also another way of becoming a Kenyan citizen is by seeking employment. This will require you to have basic documents, which you will be granted without many restrictions.

In theory, refugees in Kenya are free to engage in any form of self-employment without the need to obtain formal authorization and they may take paid employment after obtaining a work permit. The Act provides that “every refugee and member of his family in Kenya shall, in respect of wage-earning employment, be subject to the same restrictions as are imposed on persons who are not citizens of Kenya.” Refugees and their spouses may apply for and obtain a class M work permit.  A holder of a class M work permit “may engage in any occupation, trade, business or profession.”  Although obtaining a two-year work permit previously cost refugees US$700, this is no longer the case as Kenya has removed this fee and made permits available free of charge.

Finally, the easiest way to become a Kenyan citizen is by getting married to a Kenyan, who will ensure you secure a National Identity card and Birth Certificate.