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Surge in numbers of Kenyans Immigrating to the US Signals Improved Economic Opportunities

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In 2022, the United States experienced the highest influx of Kenyan immigrants in the past decade, indicating increased job prospects for both skilled and semi-skilled workers in the world’s largest economy.

According to data from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a liberal policy research group, the number of Kenyan immigrants in the US rose to 168,915 in 2022, marking a significant 9.6% increase from the 154,062 recorded in 2021, during the global economic recovery post-COVID-19. The Employment Third Preference (E3) visa category, tailored for professionals and skilled workers, saw predominant issuance, followed by the Diversity Immigrant (DV) visa.

Despite the US Department of State’s recent hike in visa fees across multiple categories, indicating rising processing costs, interest among Kenyans in migrating shows no signs of diminishing. This trend mirrors a broader resurgence in migration to the US from various nations after years of decline, as reported by the Census Bureau, which noted a return to pre-pandemic levels of net international migration in 2022, following a peak in 2016 and subsequent annual declines.

Recognizing this trend, the Kenyan government is actively pursuing strategies to facilitate overseas job opportunities for its citizens. This approach is seen as a dual solution to alleviate domestic unemployment pressures and enhance foreign currency inflows, thereby mitigating inflationary impacts from costly imports. While Kenya faces challenges related to the loss of skilled human capital, the influx of remittances from abroad presents an economic opportunity that supports national development.

For the United States, the surge in Kenyan immigration underscores its reputation as a land of opportunity, albeit amidst ongoing debates surrounding immigration policies and their economic implications.