An international traveler leaves the Customs and Immigration area of Dulles International Airport (IAD) June 29, 2017, outside Washington, DC, in Dulles, Virginia. 

| Paul J. Richards | AFP

To emigrate to the US, UK, or Canada? Find out more here

Every year, thousands of Kenyans look for ways to migrate abroad. The countries that have many targets are the United States and the United Kingdom with Canada also emerging as a choice destination for many. These three countries have unlimited opportunities. However, migrating, finding jobs, and earning adequately is not a walk in the park. This is why you must know your way around their immigration systems if you are looking to migrate.

United States Immigration US DV Lottery

Popularly known as the Green Card, the DV Lottery program is the most popular way of legally migrating to the United States. This is a lottery program where applications are made from October. The results are available for checking from May the following year. According to Ralph Kilondu, a Kenyan living in the US, the Green Card is the safest way to ensure you can live and work freely in the US, and enjoy benefits accessible to US citizens.

US Fiancé(e) K-1

This is a nonimmigrant visa program for the foreign fiancé or fiancée of a citizen of the US. This program allows the foreign-citizen fiancé to travel to the US and marry their US citizen partner within 90 days. After marriage, the foreign citizen is allowed to apply to have their status adjusted to permanent resident. To qualify, the two partners are required to have met in person within the last two years, of which evidence may be required.

Investment Green Card

This is a program that is mainly used by migrating investors. The program is little-known and includes the EB-5 route. For example, in 2018, an American firm known as Atlantic American Partners invited Kenyans with a capital of up to Sh50 million to invest in the US and gain citizenship. The process of citizenship takes about two years. Interested Kenyans are also required to pay an additional Sh2 million in legal fees, and an extra Sh4.8 million in investment management fees.

Canada Immigration

Canada Express Entry merit-based program

The Express Entry route is the most popular program for immigrating to Canada. The program manages skilled worker's applications for permanent residence under federal and provincial economic programs. According to the Canadian immigration website, it has four categories: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canada Experience Class, and Select Provincial Nominee Programs. You are required to submit your profile which is then scored based on factors such as age, education, work experience, and language proficiency.

The scores for Express Entry could be as high as 400. If you are successful, you will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Normally, you will get three months to submit your application under the express entry four categories. The processing will take about six months.

Most agents in Kenya charge between Sh500,000 and Sh800,000 to help with the processing. Find out what is included in the package of the agent you choose, and whether they are licensed. Some agents might be capable of organising job offers and offering you settlement assistance for a month or two.

United Kingdom Immigration

UK merit-based system:

Like Canada, the United Kingdom is now using a merit-based application system. To qualify for a UK work visa, you will need to achieve 70 points as follows:

· 40 points if you have a job offer from an approved employer

· 10 points if you can prove the ability to speak English

· 20 points if you will be paid at least Sh3.79 million per year (316,000 per month).

· 20 points if you get a job offer in a category the UK has a shortage in.

You will need to register and sit for an IELTS examination which will gauge your ability to communicate in the English language. This test will cost you Sh29,800. You will also need to get tested for TB.

The jobs, cost of living, and homes

United States

Jobs such as home caregiver, foster parents, and truck driving may very well in the United States. However, according to Betty Az, a Kenyan who lives and works in Arizona, Phoenix, US, you must be prepared to do at least two to three jobs to earn enough for your bills, savings, and investments. "The bills in the US can on average be as high as USD 3,000 (Sh324,000)," she said.

Houses are also quite expensive. For example, a simple two-bedroom house in Arizona will currently cost you up to USD 400,000 (Sh43 million). If you are a nurse, for example, you can take a double shift and work for 16 hours instead of eight.


Some jobs and skills are in demand while others aren't. This means that if you are planning to move to Canada, you must be aware that the job you hold in Kenya may not be the same job you'll do while there. Also, some jobs will require you to get a practicing license after arriving and staying in Canada. For example, if you are a nurse in Kenya, you cannot practice in Canada as a nurse without a license.

To migrate, you can start with something like a waitress and later revert to nursing after you acquire your practicing license. According to Loise Githiga, a licensed immigration expert in Canada, the type of jobs people perform abroad will not necessarily tell you how much money they make. "If the office pays 60,000 Canadian dollars a year (Sh420,000 per month), some end up making an additional equal amount from their side waitress jobs," said Ms. Githiga in a Canadian Immigration Vlog.

She adds that residential cleaners who clean up to four houses can easily make 500 Canadian dollars (Sh42,000) per day. Before you select a provincial program, you should know the minimum wage allowed as it is different across the Canadian provinces.

The minimum wage also indicates the cost of living in each province. It ranges from CAD 11.45 per hour (Sh1,000) in the Saskatchewan province to CAD 16 per hour (Sh1,400) in the Nunavut territory. Prices of homes in Canada range from $183,000 (Sh16 million) in New Brunswick to $1,036,000 (Sh91 million) in Vancouver, British Columbia.

United Kingdom

The cost of living in the UK is quite high. According to UK Immigration, an online platform that tracks the cost of living in the United Kingdom, the average cost of living is around £2000 (Sh302,000). This is inclusive of rent of about £870 (Sh131,370), bills of £900 (Sh135,900), and groceries of about £275 (Sh41,525).

The UK House Price Index estimates the average cost of buying a house in Manchester to be £234204 (Sh35.3 million) and in London £496,066 (Sh74.9 million).