The Ministry of Interior and National Administration has cleared a backlog of 1,698 applications for citizenship, some of which have been pending approval since 2018.
Interior cabinet secretary Kithure Kindiki revealed that 808 applications were made by persons who sought to regain Kenyan citizenship, which they had earlier renounced in favour of other countries.
“I also approved 815 applications for citizenship made by spouses and children of Kenyan Citizens. This measure will strengthen the social fabric of Kenyan society by promoting the family unit,” he said.
Those who regained Kenyan citizenship have risen from one in 2018, zero in 2019 and 2020 during the Covid-19 period to 401 last year. The number stood at 335 by the end of January.
Prof Kindiki further said he signed 19 work permit appeals to allow genuinely skilled individuals to work for various organisations in the country.
“I have directed the Directorate of Immigration Services to ensure decisions on all applications for Citizenship, Permanent Residency and Work Permits are processed within 21 days from the date of application,” he said.
The CS said the process involves strict vetting of the applicants so that only foreigners with special skills are allowed to work in Kenya.
Speaking when he marked 100 days in office, Prof Kindiki also said the government is planning to triple the number of Kenyan passport holders from the current 3.5 million to 10 million in the next five years.
He advised eligible applicants that passport booklets are now available in sufficient numbers and the processing of passports has been expedited to conform to international standards.
The CS said the delay in the issuance of new passports, which had prevailed for the last one year due to a lack of passport booklets and the breakdown of the printer at the Directorate of Immigration Services, has now been addressed.
“The Department is in receipt of 50,000 34-page booklets with a further 200,000 booklets expected this month and a similar figure each month for the next six months,” he said adding that the ministry is in the process of acquiring a new printer.
Kenya rolled out new chip-embedded passports for its citizens to tame rampant forgery and impersonation of holders.
The new features are meant to make it impossible for anyone to forge or duplicate a Kenyan passport.
Roll-out of the e-passports with a 10-year validity period marked the beginning of the end of the ‘analogue’ passports that have been in use since Independence and have joined 60 other countries that use new passports.
Other achievements by his ministry include the initiation of the process for acquisition and installation of the Advance Passenger Information (API) system, e-Gates and modern electronic security surveillance at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), which will enable the airport to retain the Global Category 1 Airport status.
He also said the ministry of Interior has initiated the policy framework for the introduction of the online registration of births and deaths, which will be launched next month.