Why Foreigners Should Get Dual Citizenship

In 2010, the Constitution made a provision for dual citizenship allowing people to take on an additional Kenyan citizenship without revoking their current citizenship. This targets people resident in Kenya who have permanent interests in the country.

A woman holds up a Kenyan passport. The Constitution now allows for dual citizenship. PHOTO | FILE

A woman holds up a Kenyan passport. The Constitution now allows for dual citizenship. PHOTO | FILE

Dual citizenship is provided for in Chapter 3 of the Constitution and the Citizenship & Immigration Act.

For qualifying foreigners living in Kenya, dual citizenship will enable them have an unlimited ability to hold land. Article 65 of the Constitution places a cap on the ability of non-citizens to hold land in Kenya, limiting them to a 99-year leasehold title.

Although the provision on land ownership has not been effected, the fact that it has been legislated for means it can be enforced in the future.

Getting Kenyan citizenship will enable qualifying non-citizens to circumvent the limit placed by the law. A lot of tax savings can be made when a qualifying non-citizen gets Kenyan citizenship. The taxation rate in some cases differs dependent on the citizenship.

Getting Kenyan citizenship, allows you to participate in the democratic affairs of the country. Non-citizens are not eligible to vote or seek elective positions.

This benefit is good for both foreigners resident in Kenya and naturalised Kenyans in the diaspora who had previously revoked their citizenship.

Under general corporate law, a company’s nationality is determined by its country of registration rather than the nationality of the shareholders.

A company incorporated by Kenyan citizens outside the country will still be deemed foreign. In the same way, a company incorporated by non-citizens in Kenya will be deemed Kenyan.

However, in some instances, the regulator may look into the nationalities of the shareholders to determine the nationality of a company.

For example when seeking consent to buy agricultural land, the regulator looks into the nationalities of the shareholders in determining whether a company is foreign or local.

For qualifying persons in real estate, it may make sense to get citizenship in order to circumvent the process.

Other smaller benefits of getting dual citizenship include the ease of getting employment. There is no need for a Kenyan to have work or resident permits while in the country.

Procuring these permits is a difficult exercise for most people due to the stringent requirements.

Dual citizenship also makes it easier to travel regionally and continentally. No visa is required to travel to most African countries with a Kenyan passport. It is also easier to do trade within the East African Community and the Comesa region.

A number of trade incentives apply to citizens within the blocs hence for individuals doing a lot of regional trade, getting citizenship would be beneficial.

Additionally, one can take advantage of national trade incentives for citizens. For example, in the construction industry a certain percentage of work must be done by citizens. Also, it is easier to adopt children as a citizen.

Who can apply?

Persons married to Kenyans for at least seven years.

Persons resident in Kenya for at least seven years provided they meet benchmark.

Persons who had revoked their Kenyan citizenship in favour of other citizenship.

If one of your parents is a Kenyan citizen irrespective of where you were born.

– Business Daily