Three of the seven Chinese nationals arrested on Wednesday for engaging in business at Nairobi's Gikomba market had no valid work permits.
The Interior ministry said this in a communique on Thursday, adding that the other four had been engaging in income generating activities not approved under their respective work permit classes.
The foreigners, according to the ministry, were found to have flouted immigration rules, hence the directive by Interior minister Fred Matiang'i for their deportation. He has signed the order.
The official statement noted, “The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 makes it an offence for any foreigner to enter or remain in the country and temporarily engage in trade, prospecting, farming, business, professional employment, and missionary activities without a permit of the relevant class as provided under Section 36(1) and the Seventh Schedule of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations 2012."
Officers from the Immigration department and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations arrested the Chinese nationals on Wednesday following a tip-off from the public.
In the statement, the ministry went on to reassure Kenyans that its work/residence permit regime was the most advanced in the region and that it was it was fully committed to protecting the country's integrity.
It added that “Kenya welcomes and values foreigners who invest, work and visit the country and will continue to support those who follow due diligence and adhere to the country’s immigration and labour laws to the letter".
In Nakuru County on Wednesday, Dr Matiang'i noted that all foreigners working as small scale traders in Kenya will be deported.
“I direct security authorities to deport the traders because they hold illegal work permits," he said.
"We do not have a classification of foreign traders coming into the country to conduct trade or hawk. I have already directed that those in Gikomba be escorted to the airport tomorrow to ensure they take supper in their homes."
He added that those who want to apply for a work permit should do so in their countries, not in Kenya.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Komu