Work permits will now only be issued for a two-year, non-renewable period, according to Director of Immigration Jane Waikenda.
Employers will have to include the name of an understudy before the work permit is issued. The plan is to ensure the understudy takes over the job when the foreigner's work permit expires.
"This is to ensure that Kenyans get the opportunity to acquire the foreign employee's skills and take over. There will be no renewal of the any foreign worker's permit after two years," said Waikenda.
Waikenda said those with active work permits will be allowed to complete their terms but renewal will be conditional on identifying Kenyans to understudy.
She denied that the new regulations were specifically targeting residence permits for citizens of the UK, US and France.
She said the new regulations apply to all foreigners seeking to live and work in Kenya.
The review was in line with the pre-election pledge by the Jubilee Alliance to prioritise job creation, she said.
"It is not as if we don't want foreigners. We cannot refuse them an opportunity to work here but the priority must be given to Kenyans. The Jubilee government promised to create jobs to Kenyans and this is one of the areas being considered," she said.
Government has decided that strict measures are needed to ensure that only deserving foreigners get work permits who offer specialised services.
Residence and work permits are needed by any foreigner wanting to stay in Kenya, whether in gainful employment or not.
Some foreigners with pending applications have complained to the Star that they were being referred to the Office of the Director.
However Waikenda said that she was not directly involved in issuing work permits and a committee deals with applications.
Government is also tightening up on foreign investors. They will now have to show proof that they have Sh50 million in their accounts to get a Class G work permit as opposed to the $100,000 (Sh8.7 million) required by the constitution. Existing investors will be asked to top up their balances
Waikenda says this is necessary to avoid to ensure that that briefcase investors are not licenced.
The revelations come after a British citizen moved to court to avert possible deportation after the government refused to renew her work permit.
With activist Maina Kiai, Lucy Hannan runs InformAction, an NGO that screens human rights films in rural areas and holds community discussions on justice and governance.
She came to Kenya in 1988 and has worked as a journalist, human rights author and film maker. She has set up companies, built a home and started a family in Kenya. She also has a son with Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan.