NAIROBI, Kenya, July 30 – A total of 3,434 foreigners suspected to be working in the country illegally have been watch-listed after they failed to authenticate their work permits in a verification exercise that lasted two months ending July 22.
According to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, 26,829 work permits had been verified with an additional 2,760 accounted for as the exercise came to a close.
The 2,760 work permits were however not verified since the respective holders were not available to authenticate their status.
“These 2,760 work permits were not verified due to various reasons such as unavailability of permit holders because of illness or travel,” Matiangi said in a statement on Monday.
The verification exercise which commenced on May 22 is part of a commitment by the government to root out foreigners working in the country illegally.
The Department of Immigration Services (DIS) is set to establish a digital registry where details of foreign workers will be stored in a addition to a raft of measures set to be adopted to improve the process of applying for work permits.
Under new guidelines, applicants will request for work permits ahead of their arrival in the country and will only be allowed entry once their applications are granted.
DIS will also formulate strict penalties to deter foreigners from working in the country without requisite permits.
The work permits verification process had by July 3 resulted in the arrest of three brokers linked to a syndicate extorting unsuspecting foreigners seeking work permits with the promise of getting them the documents.
“We will continue to hunt down for more brokers because the Department of Immigration Services does not need such people to facilitate the processing of papers,” Matiangi said when he issued a status update at the time.
According to the CS, a total of 31 fake work permits had been detected.
Matiangi said foreigners found to have been in the country illegally are being processed for deportation with a multi-agency team tasked with the mandate of planning the expulsions.
He, however, said that the ministry was drafting a piece of legislation that would compel deportees to meet their travel costs in a bid to cut government expenditure on deportations.
“The proposed amendments would save us from spending sometimes up to about Sh 500 million annually to deport people,” Matiangi noted.
At the onset of the work permit registration exercise, the number of foreigners cleared to work in the country had been estimated at 34,000 albeit concerns of aliens exploiting tourist visas to gain access to the country’s job market without seeking work permits.