This is the legal and political relationship between an individual and the state or country. It describes one‟s membership.
Citizens enjoy certain rights and are subject to various obligations e.g. a citizen owes allegiance to the head of state or government.
Citizens may be compelled to perform certain public duties.
Nationals are entitled to vote and have/enjoy the right of protection where they are. The law relating to nationality is municipal or national law.
In Kenya citizenship is provided for by the Constitution and the Kenya Citizenship Act8 .
ACQUISITION OF NATIONALITY
Under the Constitution of Kenya, a person may become a citizen of Kenya in any of the following ways:
NATIONALITY BY BIRTH
A person may become a citizen of Kenya by birth in the following circumstances:
A person born in Kenya before 11/12/63 became a citizen on 12/12/63 if either parent was born in Kenya.
A person born in Kenya after 11/12/1963 becomes a citizen of Kenya at birth if either parent is a citizen of Kenya.
NATIONALITY BY DESCENT
A person becomes a citizen of Kenya by descent in the following circumstances:
A person born outside Kenya before 11/12/1963, became a citizen of Kenya on 12/12/1963 if the father became or would have become a citizen of Kenya by birth but for his death.
A person born outside Kenya after 11/12/1963 becomes citizen of Kenya at birth if the father is a citizen of Kenya.
FOREIGNERS AND ALIENS
Foreigners are persons not native or naturalized in the country in question
Aliens are residents born or belonging to another country who have not acquired citizenship by naturalization.
They may become citizens of Kenya by registration or naturalization.
NATIONALITY BY REGISTRATION
Under the provisions of the Constitution, the following categories of persons may be registered as citizens of Kenya on application to the Minister:
1. A woman married to a citizen of Kenya is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen; the application may be made during the lifetime of her husband.
2. A citizen of the commonwealth who has been lawful and ordinarily resident in Kenya for not less than 5 years.
3. A citizen of any African Country which permits Kenyans to be registered as her own citizen, who has been lawfully and ordinarily resident in Kenya for at least 5 years.
4. A person born outside Kenya but whose mother is a citizen of Kenya.
5. A person born in Kenya before 11/12/1963 if neither parent was born in Kenya.
NATIONALITY BY NATURALIZATION
Any foreigner may become a national of Kenya by naturalization. Acquisition of nationality by naturalization is preceded by a formal application.
Section 93 (1) of the Constitution sets the minimum conditions an applicant must fulfil.
The Minister must be satisfied that the applicant:
1. Has attained the age of 21
2. Is of good character.
3. Has adequate knowledge of the Swahili language.
4. Intends to continue residing in Kenya if naturalized.
5. Has been ordinarily and lawfully resident in Kenya for 12 months immediately preceding the application.
6. Has been ordinarily and lawfully resident in Kenya for a period of 4 years or for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than 4 years during the 7 years immediately preceding the 12 months in (5) above.
The Minister may grant Certificate of Naturalization whereupon the applicant becomes a citizen of Kenya.
LOSS OF NATIONALITY
A person who is a citizen of Kenya may lose his nationality status in any of the following ways:
Under section 6 (1) of the Kenyan Citizenship Act, a person who is a citizen of Kenya as well as some other country may renounce his Kenyan citizenship by completing Form „L‟ on whose registration the person ceases to be a citizen of Kenya.
However, under section 6 (2) of the Act, the Minister may decline to register the renunciation if:
1. It is made during a period of war in which Kenya was engaged.
2. He is satisfied it is contrary to public policy of Kenya.
LAPSING OF NATIONALITY
Under section 97 (1) of the Constitution, a person who on attaining the age of 21 is a citizen of Kenya as well as some other country loses his Kenyan citizenship automatically if he does not within the prescribed duration:
1. Renounce the nationality of that other country.
2. Take the oath of allegiance
3. Make and register a declaration of his intention to continue residing in Kenya.
DEPRIVATION / REVOCATION OF NATIONALITY
A person who is a citizen of Kenya by registration or naturalization may lose his nationality status at the instance of the Minister.
The Minister is empowered to revoke the nationality if any of the grounds set out in section 94
(1) of the Constitution justify.
The grounds include:
1. Disloyalty/disaffection: The citizen has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards Kenya.
2. Trade or communication with alien enemies: The citizen has during a war in which
Kenya was engaged unlawfully traded or communicated with enemies or has engaged in trade or business which to his knowledge was carried on to assist the enemy in the war.
3. Conviction for criminal offence: The citizen has within 5 years of registration or naturalization been convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for
12 months or more.
4. Residence outside Kenya: The citizen has continuously resided outside Kenya for a period of 7 years while:
a. Not in the service of Kenya.
b. Not in the service of an International Organization of which Kenya is a member.
c. Not renewing his intention to retain Kenyan nationality with the Kenyan embassy annually.
5. Fraud/misrepresentation: The registration or naturalization was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of material facts.