American marrying Kenyan national

Hello, I am American and currently residing in Texas. I am engaged to a Kenyan citizen and we will be married in October. My fiance still lives in Kenya and I am planning to move to Nairobi in June 2017 after completing my university degree.
What will I need to do beforehand in applying for a visa to join my husband? What type of visa will I need? As for employment do I need to apply for jobs whilst still here in the US before being offered employment? What is the Certificate of Good Conduct? Thank you :-)


Generally speaking, you would come to Kenya on a single entry visa, then apply for a dependents pass, provided that your husband has the means to support you. It should be noted that any work, paid or unpaid is prohibited with both a single entry visa and a dependents pass.

For employment, you need a work permit, rather than a dependents pass. To obtain this, you have to gain an offer of employment, then the employer applies for the permit, in the process evidencing to the Kenyan government that the position cannot be filled locally.  The company is also supposed to train a local worker to do the job, so after 2 years, the work permit may not be renewed.  The government are currently reviewing the issuance of work permits to foreign workers, particularly in the NGO sector, due to the local unemployment problem and the fact that local workers are cheaper. 

The work permit takes a little time to process, so if you came here on a single entry visa, looked for work, then go through the permit application, chances are high that the visa will run out, giving you no option but to leave Kenya, then return.  The jobs market is competitive........there are a considerable number of unemployed people educated to degree and masters level.

A Certificate of Good Conduct is a police check. You can apply after living here for 6 months and the certificate is valid for a year.

Bear in mind that after 3 years as a married person you will entitled to apply for permanent residence, which amongst other things entitles you to work without a permit.  However, the government tends to sit on applications for months if not years, unfortunately.

The other thing to consider is corruption. The immigration Dept is riddled with it and bribes are often required to hurry things along. Bribes for permits and passes can be sizeable, as are the costs of many of the permits.

The good news is that it's generally much much easier for a foreign woman marrying a Kenyan man.....attitudes are still fairly patriarchal.

The above is just an outline. Check the links below: … -services/

Thank you Longonot62 for all of your helpful feedback. I am sure it will all be a headache but thank goodness I have an idea as to what to look forward to.

No problem.  If you are marrying in Kenya, don't forget to come with a certificate of no impediment to marriage!

Settling in Kenya will be relatively straightforward, provided that your partner can support you. It's the working bit that could well be complicated as well as expensive. Make sure that you have a few thousand $ to call upon!

I am in exactly the same position as the Texan lady ,except I am coming from the UK! Very helpful post very relevant to my situation.thank you!

Hi Longonot 62;
Considering how long you have been married; how long did it take you to get permanent residency against the ideal time it should have taken to get?

Permanent residency has only been an option since the new constitution was enacted.  I was only permitted to apply for a Class K permit only, due to our particular personal circumstances, but normally, you can apply for permanent residency after 3 years of marriage.  The application process, I understand takes over a year.

Thanks Longonot; appreciated. I would like your opinion on a slightly different concern. I might have to repost this as a new post to get more insight from other members.

My Italian boyfriend and I are considering starting a business here in Kenya. The one thing we know for sure is that it is impossible for him to work here without a permit and how hectic it is to get one early enough (we are hoping to be setting up early 2018)

In that regard; we are considering a partnership of three: him; a kenyan friend and myself with me and the kenyan friend as major partners (for the sake of starting up and running the business) at least until he gets legal approval to work here.

What legal requirements are we looking at and what options are at our disposal to make this process easier?

Thanks. Other members are free to comment as well.

You are permitted to register and start a company without getting a work permit, but you cannot legally work within your company unless you have a work permit.  For your own company, the only type of permit that is available is a 'Class G'. 

The main thing that you need to know about this permit is that you must have a minimum of $100,000 (or equivalent in another currency, either invested in Kenya, or available at the bank.   If you meet these conditions, then here is a full list of the requirements:

The 'Class G' permit costs Ksh 100,000 per year (usually issued on a two year cycle), with a Ksh 10,000 admin fee paid at the time of application.  The larger amount is only paid if your permit is approved.  Bribes are not uncommonly 'asked' for and can add a third or half the cost of the permit.

Are you both hoping to get work permits?  The option of a dependents pass for you would depend on you being married!

What business idea have you got.  Certain sectors are quite crowded in Kenya, which can be very tough for new entrants to the field.  Other sectors - tourism being one of them, require additional licences.

Kenya also generally has quite a tough business environment, as there is often a reluctance for people to pay for goods and services, on time or at all, leaving you expending a lot of energy in chasing your debts.  The legal system is quite corrupt, so going to court to recover money is rarely an option.  You also must know your Kenyan partner very well and trust him/her absolutely.

I dont think i need a permit; just to meet the basic requirements.

Regarding the business idea;we are yet to settle on one still researching and just like you said Kenya's tough business environment cannot be ignored.

Permanent residency as opposed to having a dependants pass is more practical for us and is an option under consideration.

Our kenyan partner is a mutual friend we have known for a while but you can only be so trusting; just hoping for the best.

Thanks Longonot


To pick up on your points:

To obtain permanent residency (unless you marry a Kenyan citizen), you will need a work permit.  Its a 7 year plus process too.  I have pasted the relevant part, from the Directorate of Immigration & Registration of Persons website, below

"CATEGORY: B ( Lawful Residents of Kenya) Applicants who have held work permits for at least 7 years; (i) And have been continuously resident in the country for three years immediately preceding the permanent residence application. (ii) The children and spouses of the above mentioned applicants. Requirements Applicants must provide proof of lawful residence on work permits for a minimum of 7 years and with continuous 3 years residency in Kenya preceding the application for permanent residency. Applicants must demonstrate a strong position to make tangible contribution to socio-economic development of the country hence priority will be given to investors and highly qualified professionals. In, this framework, applicants may be required to appear in person for interview to confirm or verify these facts. Documentary Requirements:"

As I previously mentioned, not having a work permit also means not being able to work within your business legally in any way.  So, looking at the worst case scenario, your business partner could quite easily cause a lot of trouble by going to the authorities, for example.  Working illegally is an arrestable offence, also could mean the cancellation of your visa.

I mentioned the dependents pass, as this is a common route for couples/families, where one obtains a work permit and the others are allowed to remain in Kenya on dependents passes.  However, you have to be married and the dependents pass prohibits working, for the holder.

Am sorry i forgot to mention in the original post that am kenyan and the only person who needs a permit or maybe a pass is my boyfriend.

All the information you have provided thus far has been and will be useful; asante.

Incase i need more clarifications; i will ask for more information.

I am a Kenyan citizen and would also like to find American lady for a relationship. would you introduce me to somebody.**

Hi Daniel,

Unfortunately this is not a dating site. It's an information sharing forum.

Hi Longonot,

The 'conversation' we had above regarding the business venture refers.

1. What are the basic requirements for starting up a small company here in Kenya where the owners are two Kenyans and a foreigner?Of course the foreigner cannot work in it but would like to be considered a director,is that possible?

2. We are considering starting two companies, a transportation business and a restaurant.In terms of the line of business,they are very different but considering the fact that the two companies belong to one person,what are the tax / legal implications?I know the legal documentation needed for example in the food industry is more than in the transport business but regarding tax issues, please enlighten me.

3. We are considering giving the companies the same name, an example is like Q foods and Q transporters, Will that help in matters taxation in that, whereas each entity is regarded separate and distinct and maybe tax is remitted separately for each, we can just remit the total tax as one now that the two companies are owned by the same person?

I had a little more questions but will raise them as they come to mind.


Maybe you should start your question under your own topic. Your question does not relate to an American moving to Kenya. It's rude to just hijack someone else's topic for your own good.

It's not my job to find a stranger an American or any other type of woman. Find your own and stay on topic please!

Tanzonholiday,your response to my post above is uncalled for. I used the trail above since I had already highlighted the issue I was referring to here already and I was addressing Longonot62. That said I have and I intended from the start to post it on my own topic for more insight and visibility to other members.

Hi Tanzan please let me know how you have got on

All is well but gets a little boring being home all day. Thanks for asking :-)

I must say the 'boredom factor' is a big issue for me!

Hi, Tanzonhoilday2016 and Longonot62 
I would find this very difficult too, which is why I continue to work in my own country, not certain how it's going to be maintained but ensures we have an income.

If ones partner (Kenyan) is not working, which is common there are few options!, it's working out ok, though i'm not keen on flying

Hi Tanzon.So,you cannot find job according to your professia?Sure, you can, just try....))

It's getting a work permit which is the problem, Pasternak Tanya.

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