Work permits scheme ‘will shield nation’

Kinyuru Munuhe @kinyurumunuhek

The government yesterday unveiled a new work permits regime that requires foreigners to apply for permits and visas from their country of origin, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said yesterday.

The move is aimed at regulating movement of illegal migrants and undocumented persons into the country as well as cushioning Kenyans in the local job market.

“We have changed the work permit regime. No work permits will be issued from here. They must apply from the country of origin,” he said.

“We are not against visitors and immigrants, we are an African society and have lived together but we want good visitors,” he added.

Proper skills

Speaking during the launch of Kenya Institute of Migration Studies at the University of Nairobi, Matiang’i said all officers in the Immigration department from the rank of Principal Immigration Officer upwards must undergo a mandatory postgraduate diploma in Migration Studies in the institute before being promoted.

The CS further directed that a Public Relations course be introduced to equip all immigration officers undertaking the programme with proper skills of handling visitors at entry and exit points. The first intake is set for May next year.

Plans to establish the institute began in 2016 during the tenure of the late Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery. Matiang’i urged the European Union and other international organisations to support the institute.

Immigration Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa, Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi and Population Studies and Research Institute director Anne Khasakhala attended the launch.

Early this year, Matiang’i directed that all foreign students must submit progress reports during the annual renewal of their status in the country. He said some foreigners were posing as students only to engage in criminal activities such as selling drugs.

The Inspector General of Police had also ordered for a nation-wide crackdown of illegal immigrants in the country after Matiang’i convened a meeting between immigration officials, administrators and the National Police Service , where they declared coordinated deportation of all illegal immigrants. All foreigners in the country were required to formalise their papers by July 22.

Diplomats are among those who had been asked to ensure their papers are in order.

The Immigration department is now under strict instructions to decline applications for work permits for jobs that can be done by Kenyans. The government will only give work permits for those offering  expertise that is not sufficiently provided by citizens.

Travel costs

Besides generating a fool proof database of foreigners and their status in the country, the digital register of all foreigners will serve as a strategy to cushion Kenyan workers and bolster country’s immigration programmes and national security.

One of the deterrent measures to discourage aliens from coming into the country is the proposed amendment of the Immigration Regulations Act to have deportees meet travel costs or face imprisonment.

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