Companies cut expatriate numbers after crackdown

Immigration counter
Immigration counter at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Companies have cut expatriate staff numbers in the wake of a crackdown on foreign workers and reduced infrastructure works in an economy where formal jobs growth hit a seven-year low.

Data published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the Immigration Department issued 8, 967 work permits last year, a 5.3 percent decrease from 9,465 in 2018.

During the period under review, the number of work permits renewed by firms for workers also dropped by 13.6 percent from 12, 160 in 2018 to 10, 501 last year.

The drop is linked to a crackdown by the State on expatriates working in the country illegally.

“The number of work permits issued and renewed decreased by 5.3 and 13.6 per cent, respectively over the same period. This was attributed to stringent permit issuance procedures adopted such as tax compliance and completion of major government projects that had engaged foreign nationals,” said the KNBS report released last Tuesday.


Kenya in 2018 gave expatriates working in Kenya 60 days to update their details with the Ministry of Interior as the government intensified its crackdown on foreigners working in the country illegally.

The exercise by the Immigration Department was meant to weed out foreigners holding jobs that could be done by locals. The ministry demanded that expatriates verify their details at Nyayo House using valid work permit, passports, Alien ID and Kenya Revenue Authority PIN.