Work Permit Q:

Is my spouse allowed to work in this country?

As a UN staff member your spouse is issued with a Kenya Dependent Pass Exemption (Resident Permit issued gratis to dependents of UN staff members). This exemption may not be used as a work permit. If your spouse wishes to engage in either gainful employment or voluntary service, they would have to apply for a work permit. In this case the Kenya Dependent Pass Exemption will be cancelled and a work permit issued instead. Employers must apply for work permits for spouses. Self-employed spouses will need to apply for work permits directly from the Department of Immigration Services.

Q: How does my spouse apply for a work permit?

The Work Permits issued by the Department of Immigration Services are classified from A to M. Class D permit is issued to a person who is offered specific employment by a specific employer who is qualified to undertake that employment. Those who wish to be self-employed as investors in specific trade, business or consultancy are required to apply for a Class G Permit. The cost of a permit is high – Ksh 200,000/year (approximately US $2083) for Class D, and Ksh 100,000/year (approximately US $1041) for Class G. For most recent fees for different work permits, please refer to: Permits are obtained through the Department of Immigration Services of the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of the National Government.

Q: 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 staff member has worked in Kenya before and already has details on file with the immigration department (i.e. residence permit number from previous employment) the issuance will take on average fifteen working days to process, sometimes a little longer.

Q: Does my spouse need to renew a work permit and if so, how?

The Work Permit is pegged to an employment contract. Every time the contract is renewed, the employer should request for the extension of the Work Permit.

Q: What should my spouse do about their work permit if they change jobs?

Please refer to the first and second questions above.

Q: Can my spouse 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.

Q: Does my spouse have to pay taxes?

Yes, if your spouse is working in a non-UN employment. As a UN staff member you and your spouse are exempt from paying taxes. But if you and/or your spouse are nationals of a country that requires you to pay taxes, then such taxes will be reimbursed through completing the requisite forms and sending them to the United Nations Tax Unit in New York. 12

II. Job Opportunities

Q: How should my spouse start looking for employment?

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

Q: Are there any jobs my spouse will not be allowed to do?

Please refer to

Q: 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/clubs:

  • United Nations Kenya Local Expatriate Spouses Association (UNKLESA)

Email:, or visit their website at

  • Diplomatic Spouses Association (DSA)

Email: for queries about membership.

  • American Women’s Association (AWA)

American Women’s Association (AWA) is a nonprofit, charitable organization promoting community services and development and volunteering opportunities in Kenya as well as providing social and cultural activities for our 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.

Q: 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 at which spouses/partners can seek work. This requires proactivity and 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 and partners who have found work either telecommute with the organization they were working before relocating to Nairobi or have found work as school teachers or consultants in development agencies and NGOs. Otherwise some work as volunteers with different partner/spouses associations such as the ones mentioned above. The best strategy of finding work in Kenya is through proactive networking. Spouses and Partners who have found work have done so through word of mouth, therefore networking is critical.