The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides that Kenyan Citizenship may be acquired by birth or registration and that citizenship is not lost through marriage or the dissolution of marriage. In this article we focus on citizenship by registration. Citizenship by registration can be acquired either through marriage, lawful residence or adoption.

Citizenship by marriage             

Under the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 (herein the KCIA), a person who has been married to a citizen of Kenya for a period of at least seven years and has acquired residence status is entitled, on application, in the prescribed manner to be registered as a citizen of Kenya, if:

  1. the marriage was solemnized under a system of law recognized in Kenya, whether solemnized in Kenya or outside Kenya;
  2. the applicant has not been declared a prohibited immigrant under the Act or any other law;
  3. the applicant has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more;
  4. the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship; and
  5. the marriage is subsisting at the time of the application.

Widows and widowers

The KCIA also provides that a foreign national who has been married to a citizen for a period of at least 7 years or 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, shall be deemed to be lawfully present in Kenya for the unexpired portion of the seven years and shall be eligible for registration as a citizen on application in the prescribed manner upon expiry of the seven-year period. It is important to note herein that the conditions for registration provided in citizenship by marriage (a) to (d) above are apply to a widow or widower who applies for registration as a citizen.

It is also important to note that a widow or widower who marries a non-citizen before the expiry of the period of seven years is not entitled to acquire citizenship by registration under above provision.

Lawful residence

A person who has attained the age of majority and capacity who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years may on application be registered as a citizen if that person:

  1. has been ordinarily resident in Kenya for a period of seven years, immediately preceding the date of application;
  2. has been a resident under the authority of a valid permit or has been exempted by the Cabinet Secretary, in accordance with the act and who is not enjoying the privileges and immunities under the Privileges and Immunities Act;
  3. has resided in Kenya throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application;
  4. has an adequate knowledge of Kenya and of the duties and rights of citizens as contained in the Act;
  5. is able to understand and speak Kiswahili or a local dialect;
  6. has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more;
  7. satisfies the Cabinet Secretary that he or she intends to reside in Kenya after registration;
  8. has been determined, through an 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; and
  9. is not an adjudged bankrupt.

Adopted children

A child who is not a citizen, but is adopted by a citizen, is entitled on application in the prescribed manner by the adopting parent or legal guardian to be registered as a citizen upon:

  1. the production of proof of the Kenyan citizenship of the adopting parent;
  2. the production of a valid adoption certificate issued in a reciprocating state or other jurisdiction whose orders, decrees are recognized in Kenya; and
  3. proof of lawful residence of the child in Kenya.

Effect of registration

A person who qualifies to be registered as a citizen of Kenya under the Act, shall upon taking the oath or affirmation or allegiance, be issued with a certificate of registration as a citizen of Kenya.

Requirements for Citizenship

The following are the requirements when applying for citizenship in Kenya:

  1. Application for Registration as a Citizen Form (form 8 citizenship by marriage, form 9 widow or widower, form 10 lawful residence & form 11-children/dependants).
  2. Duly filled questionnaire;
  3. Copy of Applicant foreign passport;
  4. Copies of dependent’s pass or current & previous work permit(s);
  5. Copy of KRA PIN Certificate;
  6. Copy of marriage certificate;
  7. Copy of death certificate (from widow/widower applicants);
  8. Copy of Kenyan spouse birth certificate;
  9. Applicant’s 2 passport size photographs;
  10. Letter of proof of contribution made and personal bank statement (for lawful residence applicants);
  11. Applicant’s Certificate of good conduct (original);
  12. Proof that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring citizenship status (Joint sworn affidavit);
  13. Proof that the marriage is subsisting (applicable to spouses);
  14. Copy of Kenyan passport or identity card of the Kenyan spouse; and
  15. Processing fee.

Once the application is ready, it is Lodged with the Department of Immigration at Nyayo House for processing. Upon successful registration a certificate of registration/Identity Card will be issued.

At A.O.WANGA ADVOCATES we guarantee effective and timely delivery of citizenship certificates and are happy to assist you in your application for registration as a Kenyan Citizen. Contact us on or +254794600191.

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