REVIEW OF THE KENYA CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2020

The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (the “Bill”) is sponsored by Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata. The Bill was published on 10th August 2020 and was read the first time in the Senate on 17th September 2020.

The principal purpose and objective of the Bill is to put in place mechanisms for the protection of the interests of Kenyans living abroad and to ensure their active participation in the socio-economic development of the country. The bill seeks to amend the current Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act (Number 12 of 2011 the Laws of Kenya) (“Principal Act”). Under the bill, Kenyan living abroad is defined to mean a citizen of Kenya who for the time being is domiciled in a country outside Kenya while a returnee means a Kenyan living abroad who is returning to reside permanently in Kenya.

The Bill seeks to introduce a substantial number of amendments to the current Principal Act such as: Outlining how the affairs of Kenyans living abroad will be managed, establishing a voluntary saving scheme for Kenyans living abroad and permit the formation of associations by Kenyans living abroad. To this end, below is an analysis of the Bill:

Management of the affairs of Kenyans living abroad

The bill places upon the Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to foreign affairs, the duty to put in place mechanisms to safeguard the welfare of Kenyans living abroad. These mechanisms include:

  1. To develop and implement strategies for Kenyans living abroad to participate in the development process;
  2. To develop measures to enhance the safety and security of Kenyans living abroad;
  3. To develop and implement mechanisms for engagement with Kenyans living abroad; and
  4. To establish an administrative and institutional framework for the coordination of matters relating to Kenyans living abroad.

To realize the above strategies and mechanisms, the bill requires the Cabinet Secretary to undertake certain actions as outlined in the table below:

 

whose responsibility Action to be undertaken Benefits to Kenyans living abroad and returnees
Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters foreign affairs ·         facilitate information sharing as a means of ensuring continuous engagement between the National government, county governments and Kenyans living abroad.

·         develop policies to incentivize the participation of Kenyans living abroad in the economic development, governance and democratic processes in Kenya.

·         Establish a collaborative framework with Kenyans living abroad to promote Kenya as an investment destination.

·         put in place measures to promote investment in Kenya by Kenyans living abroad.

·         put in place measures for the protection of Kenyans living abroad including access to legal representation, adequate healthcare services and access to basic services during a pandemic or other emergency in the country of residence.

·         develop and regularly update an integrated database on Kenyans living abroad and in particular document the expertise and skills of Kenyans living abroad.

·         facilitate the timely issuance and renewal of passports and the processing of any documents required to be issued by the National Government to a Kenyan living abroad.

·         develop a framework for the reintegration of returnees upon arrival in Kenya.

·         Easy and effective communication between the three stakeholders in matters concerning Kenyans living abroad.

·         Inclusion of the voice of Kenyans living abroad on matters development and governance.

·         Enhanced access to essential services such as health care services during emergency or pandemic in the country of residence with the help of the Kenyan government.

·         Faster and efficient access to official documents issued by government.

·         Incentives to attract Kenyan living abroad to invest in Kenya.

·         Enhanced safety and security of Kenyans living abroad.

·         Ease access to government services by returnees as result of adequate facilitation by the government and the Kenyan mission.

·         Ease access to NHIF and NSSF by returnees.

·         Updated citizenship status and information for returnees.

·         Ease access to other social services by returnees.

·         Ease access to consular services through appropriate and timely offered services at Kenyan missions.

Establishment of a voluntary saving scheme

The Bill proposes the establishment of a voluntary saving scheme for Kenyans living abroad. The contributions received in this scheme shall be channeled towards investment projects and programmes. The bill proposes to introduce favorable terms, come up with incentives and measure to prevent fraud in order to attract more Kenyan living abroad to invest in these projects and programmes as a mean to make Kenya an investment hub for Kenyans living abroad.

Formation of associations by Kenyans living abroad

As a mean of realizing the provision of article 36 of the constitution of Kenya, 2010 on freedom of association by Kenyans living abroad, the bill seeks to permit Kenyans living abroad to form associations as per the laws of the country in which they are resident and the said associations will be recognized and registered by Kenyan missions in the respective country. The said associations will then collaborate with Kenyan mission in organizing and holding events to mark national days in Kenya.

Finally, the bill also requires the Cabinet Secretary to annually submit a report to Parliament on the implementation of policies relating to the management of welfare of Kenyans living abroad. This in essence means that there will be accountability on the part of the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that issues relating to Kenyans living abroad are adequately addressed.

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