UN Staff Spouse/Partner Employment Guide

Work Permit Questions

 

Am I allowed to work in Kenya?

Spouses of UN staff members receive a Kenya dependent pass exemption. This means they are issued a free resident permit for dependents of UN staff members. This exemption may not be used as a work permit. If you wishes to engage in either paid work or volunteering, you would have to apply for a work permit. In this case, the dependent pass exemption will be cancelled and a work permit will be issued instead. Employers must apply for work permits for spouses. Self-employed spouses will need to apply for work permits directly with the Department of Immigration Services.

*** Please note that as of August 2018, the Government of Kenya has directed that all foreigners wishing to work in Kenya should have a work permit approved and issued before they can travel to take up their assignment in the country. Please contact Host Country to discuss specifics.


How do I apply for a work permit?

The work permits issued by the Department of Immigration Services are classified from A to M. A Class D permit is issued to a person who is offered specific employment by a specific employer and who is qualified to have that employment. Those who wish to be self-employed as investors in specific trade, business or consultancies are required to apply for a Class G Permit. The cost of a permit is high – KSh 200,000 per year (US$2,000) for Class D and KSh 100,000 per year (US$1,000) for Class G. For the most up-to-date fees for different work permits, please visit http://www.immigration.go.ke/department-of-immigration-services/

*** Please note that as of August 2018, the Government of Kenya has directed that all foreigners wishing to work in Kenya should have a work permit approved and issued before they can travel to take up their assignment in the country. Please contact Host Country to discuss specifics.


How long does the issuance of a work permit usually take?

On average, it takes three months for a person who has never worked in Kenya. If the person has worked in Kenya before and already has details on file with the immigration department (i.e. resident permit number from previous employment), the issuance will take on average fifteen working days to process, sometimes a little longer.


Do I need to renew a work permit and if so, how?

The work permit is linked to an employment contract. Every time the contract is renewed, the employer should request an extension of the work permit. Please note that as of August 2018, the Government of Kenya has directed that all foreigners wishing to work in Kenya should have a work permit approved and issued before they can travel to take up their assignment in the country. To avoid having to travel out of country and wait for the renewal to be issued, your employer should begin the renewal process at least four months before the contract expiration.


What should I do about MY work permit if I change jobs?

Please refer to the first and second questions above.


Can I be self-employed?

Yes, spouses can be self-employed as long as a work permit is approved by the Host Government. Details on the fees and other conditions to be met (these depend on the type of business activity the spouse is going to be engaged in) are available on the immigration department website:  http://www.immigration.go.ke/department-of-immigration-services/


Do I have to pay taxes?

Yes, if you have non-UN employment. As a UN staff member, you would be exempt from paying taxes. If you are a national of a country that requires you to pay taxes, then such taxes will be reimbursed after you complete the requisite forms and send them to the United Nations Tax Unit in New York.


Job Opportunity Questions

 

How should I start looking for employment?

Spouses/Partners of UN staff members can seek assistance from the United Nations Kenya Local Expatriate Spouse Association (UNKLESA) in Nairobi. UNKLESA provides periodic training on Personal History Profile (PHP) writing and interviewing skills for spouses. It also maintains a database of partners/spouses’ profiles that can be accessed by UN offices seeking qualified applicants for consultancies, project work, etc.


Are there any jobs I will not be allowed to do?


Are there common recruiters or networking opportunities?

According to spouses/partners in the field, the best strategy for finding employment is through word of mouth and networking (or “kushirikiana”). Job seekers need to be pragmatic and established or join the right networks. Local networking opportunities are available through the following associations and clubs:

  • United Nations Kenya Local Expatriate Spouses Association (UNKLESA)

Email unon-unklesa@un.org or visit www.unklesa.org

  • Diplomatic Spouses Association (DSA)

Email jsbtenb@gmail.com for queries about membership

  • American Women’s Association (AWA)

The American Women’s Association (AWA) is a non-profit, charitable organization promoting community services and development and volunteering opportunities in Kenya, as well as providing social and cultural activities for its multi-national members. The Association also organizes coffee mornings for members.

There are also numerous professional associations in Kenya, and these can provide good opportunities for meeting people and networking.


What kind of job opportunities may be available?

a) International organizations and NGOs – There are many international organizations, bilateral organizations and NGOs operating in Kenya where spouses/partners can seek work. This requires you to be proactive and engage in a substantial amount of networking. Other fields in which spouses/partners might find work include educational institutions (e.g. universities). Please see Annexes 1, 2 and 3 below for lists of international, bilateral and women’s organizations.

b) Others – Spouses/partners who find work in Nairobi usually either telecommute with the organization they were working for before relocating or work as school teachers or consultants in development agencies and NGOs. Others work as volunteers with different partner/spouse associations such as the ones mentioned above. The best strategy for finding work in Kenya is proactive networking. Spouses/partners who have found work usually have done so through word of mouth, therefore networking is critical.