Article 12 of the Constitution of Kenya describes every citizen as person entitled to:
- The rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship, subject to the limits provided or permitted by the Constitution.
- A Kenyan passport and any document of registration or identification issued by the State to citizens.
The Rights of a Kenyan Citizen
- The right to enter, exit, remain in and reside anywhere in Kenya.
- Right to be registered as a voter without unlawful restriction.
- Right to participate in free, fair and regular elections by voting or vying for any elective body or office established under the Constitution, any office of any political party of which the citizen is a member or vote in any referendum.
- Right to own land and other property in any part of the country, in accordance with the law.
- Right to be appointed to a public office in accordance with the Constitution and other relevant laws.
- If the person is a citizen by birth and does not owe allegiance to any other country, the right to vie for any elective office as President or Deputy President.
- Entitled to any document of registration or identification issued by the State to citizens including a birth certificate, certification of registration, passport, national identity card, and a voter’s card.
Duties of a Kenyan Citizen
- Owe full allegiance to the State and the Constitution of Kenya
- Obey laws of Kenya
- Pay taxes as provided for under the law.
- Protect and conserve the environment and ensure sustainable development and use of natural resources.
- Cooperate with State organs and other Citizens of Kenya to ensure enforcement of the law.
- Respect and promote national integration and unity, peaceful co-existence
- Promote the values and principles prescribed in the Constitution.
What are the current laws in Kenya that cover Citizenship?
- The Constitution of Kenya, 2010
- Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011
- Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service, 2011
- Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations, 2012
What are the modes of acquiring Kenyan Citizenship?
Article 13(2) of the Constitution provides that citizenship may be acquired either through birth or registration.
Citizenship by Birth
The Constitution provides that a person is a citizen by birth under the following instances:
- If on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not they were born in Kenya or abroad, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen.
- A child found in Kenya, who is or appears to be less than eight years of age, and whose nationality and parents are unknown, is presumed to be a citizen by birth.
- A person who is a Kenyan citizen by birth and who has ceased to be a Kenyan citizen because the person acquired citizenship of another country, is entitled on application to regain Kenyan citizenship.
Citizenship by Registration
The following categories of persons may be entitled to citizenship through registration under the following circumstances:
- Marriage– A person who has been married to a citizen of Kenya for a period of at least seven (7) years and has acquired resident status shall be entitled to be registered, provided that:
- The marriage was solemnized under a system of law recognized in Kenya, whether solemnized in Kenya or outside Kenya.
- The Applicant has not been declared a prohibited immigrant under any law.
- The Applicant has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer.
- The marriage was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.
- The marriage was in subsistence at the time of application for citizenship.
2. Widow or Widowers- A foreign national who has been married to a Kenyan citizen, who but for the death of that citizen, would have been entitled after a period of seven (7) years to be registered as a citizen of Kenya shall be eligible for registration provided they have been lawfully present in Kenya, and the seven year period has lapsed.
3. 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 be registered on application, but only if that person:
- Has been ordinarily resident in Kenya for a period of seven (7) years, immediately before the date of application for citizenship.
- Has been a resident under the authority of a valid permit or has been exempted by the Cabinet Secretary and who is not enjoying the privileges and immunity under the Privileges and Immunities Act.
- Has resided in Kenya throughout the period of twelve months immediately before the date of application for citizenship.
- Has adequate knowledge of Kenya and the duties and rights of citizens as provided in the law.
- Is able to understand and speak Kiswahili or a local language.
- Understands the nature of the application of registration as a citizen.
- Has not been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three (3) years or longer.
- Satisfies the Cabinet Secretary that he or she intends to reside in Kenya after registration for citizenship.
- Has justified in writing that they have made or is capable of making a substantive contribution to the progress or advancement in any area of national development within Kenya.
- Are not adjudged bankrupt.
The Cabinet Secretary shall not register an applicant who is a lawful resident as a citizen of Kenya, if at the date of making the application, the Applicant’s country of citizenship is at war with Kenya.
4. Adopted Children- A child who is a non-citizen, but is adopted by a Kenyan citizen, is entitled on application by the adopting parents or legal guardian to be registered as a citizen upon:
- The production of proof of Kenyan citizenship of the adopting parent.
- Production of a valid adoption certificate issued in a reciprocating State or other jurisdiction whose orders, decrees are recognized in Kenya.
- Proof of lawful residence of the child in Kenya.
Article 15 (4) of the Constitution states that the Parliament shall enact legislation establishing conditions on which citizenship may be granted to individuals who are citizens of other countries.
How can Kenyan Citizenship be revoked?
A citizenship by birth may be revoked if:
- The citizenship was acquired by fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact by any person.
- The nationality or parentage of the person became known and reveals that the person was a citizen of another country.
- The age of a person becomes known and reveals that the person was older than eight years when they were found in Kenya.
Citizenship by registration becomes revoked if:
- The citizenship was acquired by fraud, false representation, or concealment of any material fact.
- A person during any war in which Kenya is engaged unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in or associated with any business that was knowingly carried on in such a manner to assist the enemy in that war.
- A person within five (5) years after registration, has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment of a term of three (3) years or longer.
- A person has any time after registration been convicted of treason or an offence for which a penalty of at least seven (7) years imprisonment may be imposed or a more severe penalty.