The methods through which one can become a Kenyan citizen are laid out in the Kenyan Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011.
Ways of Becoming a Kenyan Citizen
There are three ways one can become a Kenyan citizen; birth, lawful residence and marriage.
Kenyan Citizenship by Birth
A person born outside Kenya is a citizen by birth if on the date of birth that person’s mother or father was or is a citizen by birth.
Kenyan Citizenship by Marriage
One can become a Kenyan citizen provided they have been married to a citizen of Kenya for a period of at least seven years. A few conditions apply:
- The marriage must have been 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
- The applicant has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer
- The marriage is not a bogus scheme to acquire a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship
- The marriage exists at the time of making the citizenship application.
- For widow and widowers, a foreign national who has been married to a citizen who but for the death of the citizen would have been entitled, after a period of seven years, to be registered as a citizen of Kenya is deemed to be lawfully present in Kenya for the unexpired portion of the seven years and is eligible for registration as a citizen on application upon expiry of the seven year period.
Citizenship by Lawful Residence
One can become a Kenyan citizen through lawful residence for a continuous period of at least seven years. A few conditions apply:
- The person has been resident in Kenya for a period of seven years, immediately preceding the date of application.
- The applicant has been a resident under the authority of a valid permit or has been legally exempted
- The person has resided in Kenya throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application
- The applicant has an adequate knowledge of Kenya and of the duties and rights of citizens as contained in the act
- The person is able to understand and speak Swahili or a local dialect
- The applicant understands the nature of the application
- The applicant has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer;
- The applicant has been determined, through 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.
- The applicant has not been declared bankrupt.
Regaining Kenyan Citizenship
Dual citizenship in Kenyan was only introduced in 2010 following the promulgation of the new constitution. Prior to that, there were many Kenyans in the diaspora, especially US Green Card holders who ceased to be a citizens of Kenya because they acquired the citizenship of another country. Anyone who lost Kenyan citizenship in the past can apply to regain citizenship. The application must be accompanied by:
- Proof of applicant’s previous Kenyan citizenship, for example, Kenyan ID, passport or birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship of the other country
Kenyan Immigration and Dual Citizenship
A citizen of Kenyan by birth who acquires the citizenship of another country is entitled to retain the citizenship of Kenya.
How to Apply for Kenyan Citizenship
To apply, visit the Foreign Nationals Services (eFNS) portal.