List of Changes Foreign Countries Have Made on Immigration Laws & How This Affects Kenyans


In the past months, several foreign countries have implemented new laws seeking to cap the influx of immigrants trooping to their nations on an annual basis.

With some laws already taking effect, Kenyans seeking to either study or work abroad will have to comply with the new rules that have been criticised for being anti-progressive.

This will also have a ripple effect on diaspora remittances, with Kenyans abroad estimated to repatriate an average of Ksh670 billion annually. The number is projected to grow to Ksh1 trillion in a year with President William Ruto’s administration already having put in place measures to incentivise inflows.

Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at the new immigration laws Kenyans should take note of.

A photo of the Diaspora Affairs Permanent Secretary holding talks with Kenyans in Canada in October 2023

Photo

State Department of Diaspora Affairs

Canada

On Monday, Canada capped the number of foreign students in the country to an average of 360,000 in a year, a decrease of 35 per cent from the normal influx recorded in the past years.

This will not only affect students at the diploma or undergraduate level but also those applying for study permit renewals.

A statement from the country’s Immigration Ministry affirmed that the new move would address the housing crisis being experienced in the country which has led to an accommodation squeeze. In 2022, Canada’s population grew by over one million, with the large growth attributed to immigrant arrivals.

This, according to the Canadian government, has precipitated a housing crisis with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation projecting that the country requires 3.5 million more housing units by 2030 to sustainably restore affordability.

United Kingdom

Britain recently introduced key measures to cut the number of people immigrating to the UK by 300,000, a number which includes a substantial number of Kenyans. 

United Nations’ data shows that 139,000 Kenyans immigrated to the UK in 2023.

These laws involved banning students from bringing family dependents into the country as well as increasing the salary requirements for work visas from the previous Ksh5 million to Ksh8 million.

Further, the UK has abolished the shortage occupation list, a provision that allows British employers to pay immigrants 20 per cent less than locals to create a level playing field between the citizens and immigrants.

Initially, the employers preferred the immigrants because they could pay them less than British citizens for the same job.

However, with the new law, the new list provides the same rates as Britons.

Additionally, the annual charges for the National Health Service (NHS) increased to Ksh198,424 from Ksh121,033. The service is a mandatory tax that provides affordable healthcare treatment in the country.

Diaspora Affairs PS Roseline Njogu (centre) during the launch of Pearson VUE Test Centre in Nairobi on January 15, 2023.

Photo

State Department of Diaspora Affairs

Australia

Australia recently overhauled its entire visa program to tame the influx of immigrants in line with the country’s economic aspirations.

In December 2023, Australia abolished the current 482 visa program and introduced ‘Skills in Demand’ which involves a three-tiered approach to temporary skilled migration. If an applicant is selected, the program becomes valid for four years.

The approach involved a specialist skills pathway which is reserved for immigrants with high skills. The core Skills pathway involves those whose salary falls below Ksh22 million annually.

On the other hand, the essential skills pathway is restricted to care workers who tend to the elderly and the disabled.

Germany

On January 18, 2024, and January 19, 2024, Germany passed two immigration bills; with one making it easier to expel asylum seekers with dubious cases while the other making it easier for legitimate immigrants to gain German nationality.

The second law was passed after statistics showed that 13.4 million of Germany’s 84 million residents lacked citizenship. 

This involved over 5 million residents who have resided in the country for more than a decade. 

The number has risen over the recent past due to the government’s delay in naturalising those residing in the country.





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