IMMIGRATION

Matiang'i launches fast-tracked Kenyan citizenship restoration drive

Thousands lost their citizenship when new Constitution came into effect.

In Summary
  • Other benefiting applications are for permanent residence for spouses, children, and widows and widowers of citizens of Kenya.
  • Thousands of investors will also be issued with permanent residence permits.
Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i during the launch of a Rapid Response Initiative (RRI) for processing Kenyan citizenship and permanent residence at Nyayo House, Nairobi on May 26, 2021.
Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i during the launch of a Rapid Response Initiative (RRI) for processing Kenyan citizenship and permanent residence at Nyayo House, Nairobi on May 26, 2021.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

Thousands of Kenyans who lost their citizenship under the old Constitution will now regain their status in a new drive.

They will have to lodge applications at Nyayo House in Nairobi or at the Kenyan embassies.

So far, more than 25,000 applications are pending at the Immigration offices, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said on Wednesday.

Matiang’i has written to the Attorney General to simplify the application process.

Matiang’i said Kenya is keen to reunite families as most of these Kenyans have to apply for visas and cannot engage in gainful employment unless they are issued with permits and passes.

He said the government is aware that Kenyans who lost their citizenship when the new Constitution came into effect and are eager to regain Kenya Citizenship, which is their birthright.

The group was expected to abide by the restrictions that apply to foreign nationals.

“They apply for visas and cannot engage in gainful employment unless they are issued with permits and passes,” he said.

He added the government is also aware of the importance of supporting the family unit as an important pillar of the society and the nation.

The CS said they will prioritize processing of pending Citizenship applications for the spouses of Kenya citizens.

He said the government is aware that there are stateless persons who are descendants of Kenya citizens.

Matiang’i launched a 60-day rapid results initiative programme to clear the backlog and set the stage for speedy processing and issuance of these documents.

“Being a stateless person denies you documents of identity such as national ID cards and passports, without which you miss opportunity for education and gainful employment. During this RRI Programme, applications for citizenship for this category will be expedited.”

The pending applications will be processed within the period of the RRI.

The RRI programme will start on June 2 and run for two months ending on July 31.

However, the application process will continue beyond the RRI period.

The ministry has also identified citizenship applications from investors for fast-tracking during the RRI programme.

An investor Paul Van Brussel who said he had worked in Kenya for 25 years was given his citizenship.

A couple Kennedy Kimari and Lucy Mugua who live in the UK were also given their documents as well as Isaac Ndiema and Madalola Medelaine who live in Kenya

Other benefiting applications are for permanent residence for spouses, children, and widows and widowers of citizens of Kenya.

Thousands of investors will also be issued with permanent residence permits. This status is essential in giving a sense of security and predictability of immigration status to those who have made significant investments.

The ministry said it is aware some people are planning to take advantage of the process to get Kenyan citizenship.

“To mitigate this unfortunate motive, applicants for these two services have been subjected to rigorous vetting, sometimes causing prolonged delays,” the CS said.

The Director General of Immigration was directed to relook at the regulatory framework and the internal processes for the issuance of citizenship and permanent residence and make proposals for the necessary changes that would ensure speedy processing and issuance of the documents.

“By the end of the 60 day RRI programme, all the backlog of citizenship and Permanent Residence applications shall be cleared and a framework put in place for the speedy issuance of these documents.”

The processing of the two services is associated with long processes and delays.

In part, the delay is attributed to mandatory security checks, as well as slow and cumbersome internal processes, which has caused a huge backlog of applications that are awaiting to be processed.

He said the purpose of this RRI program is to re-engineer the processes used to issue Citizenship and Permanent Residence, clear the current backlog, and put in place a framework that will ensure speedy processing and issuance of these services.

He said the ministry has prioritized improvement of Immigration Services.

“We have made significant progress in improving the issuance of Passports to our citizens, processing of evisas to tourists and visitors, and the issuance of work permits to investors.”

These milestones, he said have come as a result of investing in ICT technologies, innovation to overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the culture of continuously improving our Immigration Services.

Similar innovations and business process improvements were introduced to our Visa services. Tourists apply and are issued with visas at the comfort of their homes and offices.

The same applies to the application, processing and issuance of Permits and Passes. These services are paperless.

They are fully automated and applicants no longer visit Nyayo House to submit hard copy applications. We are now issuing e-Permits and e-Passes.