Naturalization

Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country.[1] It may be done automatically by a statute, i.e., without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application or a motion and approval by legal authorities.[2] The rules of naturalization vary from country to country but typically include a promise to obeying and upholding that country's laws,[3] taking and subscribing to the oath of allegiance, and may specify other requirements such as a minimum legal residency and adequate knowledge of the national dominant language or culture. To counter multiple citizenship, most countries require that applicants for naturalization renounce any other citizenship that they currently hold, but whether this renunciation actually causes loss of original citizenship, as seen by the host country and by the original country, will depend on the laws of the countries involved.

The massive increase in population flux due to globalization and the sharp increase in the numbers of refugees following World War I created a large number of stateless persons, people who were not citizens of any state. In some rare cases, laws for mass naturalization were passed. As naturalization laws had been designed to cater for the relatively few people who had voluntarily moved from one country to another (expatriates), many western democracies were not ready to naturalize large numbers of people. This included the massive influx of stateless people which followed massive denationalizations and the expulsion of ethnic minorities from newly created nation states in the first part of the 20th century, but they also included the mostly aristocratic Russians who had escaped the 1917 October Revolution and the war communism period, and then the Spanish refugees. As Hannah Arendt pointed out, internment camps became the "only nation" of such stateless people, since they were often considered "undesirable" and were stuck in an illegal situation, wherein their country had expelled them or deprived them of their nationality, while they had not been naturalized, thus living in a judicial no man's land.

Since World War II, the increase in international migrations created a new category of migrants, most of them economic migrants. For economic, political, humanitarian and pragmatic reasons, many states passed laws allowing a person to acquire their citizenship after birth, such as by marriage to a national – jus matrimonii – or by having ancestors who are nationals of that country, in order to reduce the scope of this category. However, in some countries this system still maintains a large part of the immigrant population in an illegal status, albeit with some massive regularizations, for example, in Spain by José Luis Zapatero's government and in Italy by Berlusconi's government.

US Navy 090528-N-3207B-034 Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen recite the pledge of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the USS Midway Museum
Service members are sworn in as citizens aboard the USS Midway in 2009

Laws by country

 China

The People's Republic of China gives citizenship to persons with one or two parents with Chinese nationality who have not taken residence in other countries. The country also gives citizenship to people born on its territory to stateless people who have settled there. Furthermore, individuals may apply for nationality if they have a near relative with Chinese nationality, if they have settled in China, or if they present another legitimate reason.[4] In practice, only few people gain Chinese citizenship; as of 2010, China had only 1,448 naturalised Chinese in total.[5]

The naturalization process starts with a written application. Applicants must submit three copies, written with a ball-point or fountain pen, to national authorities, and to provincial authorities in the Ministry of Public Security and the Public Security Bureau. Applicants must also submit original copies of a foreign passport, a residence permit, a permanent residence permit, and four two-and-a-half inch long pictures. According to the conditions outlined in the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, authorities may also require "any other material that the authority believes are related to the nationality application".[6]

 India

The Indian citizenship and nationality law and the Constitution of India provides single citizenship for the entire country. The provisions relating to citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution are contained in Articles 5 to 11 in Part II of the Constitution of India. Relevant Indian legislation is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance 2005. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003 received the assent of the President of India on 7 January 2004 and came into force on 3 December 2004. The Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance 2005 was promulgated by the President of India and came into force on 28 June 2005.

Following these reforms, Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory).

 Italy

The Italian Government grants Italian citizenship for the following reasons.[7]

  • Automatically
    • Jus sanguinis: for birth;
    • If an Italian citizen recognizes, at a time after birth, a minor child;
    • For adoption;
    • To obtain or re-obtain from a parent.
  • Following declaration
    • By descent;
    • Jus soli: by birth or descent in Italy;
  • By marriage or naturalization
    • By marriage: the foreign or stateless spouse of an Italian citizen may acquire Italian citizenship after two years of legal residence in Italy or, if residing abroad, after three years from the date of marriage;
    • By naturalization: the foreigner can apply for Italian citizenship after ten years of legal residence in Italy, reduced to five years for those who have been recognized as stateless or refugee and four years for citizens of countries of the European Community.

 Indonesia

Indonesian nationality is regulated by Law No. 12/2006 (UU No. 12 Tahun 2006). The Indonesian nationality law is based on jus sanguinis and jus soli. The Indonesian nationality law does not recognize dual citizenship except for persons under the age of 18 (single citizenship principle). After reaching 18 years of age individuals are forced to choose one citizenship (limited double citizenship principle).[8]

A foreign citizen can apply to become an Indonesian citizen with the following requirements:

  • Age 18 or older, or married
  • Resided in Indonesia for a minimum of 5 consecutive years or 10 non-consecutive years
  • Physically and mentally healthy
  • Ability to speak Indonesian and acknowledge Pancasila and Undang-Undang Dasar Negara Republik Indonesia Tahun 1945
  • Never convicted of a crime for which the punishment is imprisonment for one year or more
  • If having Indonesian citizenship will not give the person dual citizenship
  • Employed or have fixed income
  • Pay citizenship fee

Any application for citizenship is granted by the President of Indonesia.

 Israel

Israel's Declaration of Independence was made on 14 May 1948, the day before the British Mandate was due to expire as a result of the United Nations Partition Plan.[9] The Israeli parliament created two laws regarding immigration, citizenship and naturalization: the Law of Return and the Israeli nationality law.[10] The Law of Return, enacted on July 15, 1950, gives Jews living anywhere in the world the right to immigrate to Israel. This right to immigrate did not and still does not grant citizenship. In fact, for four years after Israel gained independence, there were no Israeli citizens.[10]

On July 14, 1952, the Israeli parliament enacted the Israeli Nationality Law.[10] The Nationality Law naturalized all citizens of Mandated Palestine, the inhabitants of Israel on July 15, 1952, and those who had legally resided in Israel between May 14, 1948, and July 14, 1952. The law further clarified that naturalization was available to immigrants who had arrived before Israel's creation, immigrants who arrived after statehood was granted, and those who did not come to Israel as immigrants but have since expressed desire to settle in Israel, with restriction. Naturalization applicants must also meet the following requirements: be over 18 years of age, have resided in Israel for three out of the five preceding years, have settled or intend to settle permanently in Israel, have some knowledge of Hebrew, and have renounced prior nationality or demonstrated ability to renounce nationality after becoming a citizen of Israel.[10]

Because of Israel's relatively new and culturally mixed identity, Israel does not grant citizenship to persons born on Israeli soil. Instead, the government chose to enact a jus sanguinis system, with the naturalization restrictions listed above. There is currently no legislation on second-generation immigrants (those born in Israel to immigrant parents). Furthermore, foreign spouses can apply for citizenship through the Minister of the Interior, but have a variety of restrictions and are not guaranteed citizenship.[11]

 Malaysia

Naturalisation in Malaysia is guided by the 1964 Malaysian Constitution. According to the law, those who want to be the country citizen should live in the country for a period of 10–12 years. The would-be-citizens are required to speak the Malay language as well submitting the identity cards of two Malaysians who recommend the applicant for citizenship.[12] As the Government of Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship, those who seek naturalisation are needed to reside permanently in the country and renouncing their former country citizenship.[13]

The requirements are as follows:[14]

  • The applicant shall appear before the Registrar of Citizenship when submitting the application.
  • The applicant must be aged 21 years and above on the date of the application.
  • The applicant has resided in the federation for a period of not less than 10 years in a period of 12 years, including the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application.
  • The applicant intends to reside permanently in the federation.
  • The applicant is of good character.
  • The applicant has adequate knowledge of the Malay language.
  • The applicant must be sponsored by two referees who are citizens aged 21 years and above and who are not relatives, not hired persons, and not advocates or solicitors to the applicant.
  • Form C must be completed and submitted together with copies of the necessary documents.

The Article 16 of 1957 Malaysian Constitution also stated a similar condition previously.[15]

 Philippines

Commonwealth Act No. 473, the Revised Naturalization Law, approved June 17, 1939, provided that persons having certain specified qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization.[16] Republic Act No. 9139, approved June 8, 2001, provided that aliens under the age of 18 who were born in the Philippines, who have resided in the Philippines and have resided therein since birth, and who possess other specified qualifications may be granted Philippines citizenship by administrative proceeding subject to certain requirements.[17][18]

 Russia

Naturalization in Russia is guided by articles 13 and 14 of the federal law “About Citizenship of Russian Federation” passed on May 31, 2002. Citizenship of Russia can be obtained in general or simplified order. To become a citizen in general order, one must be 18 years of age or older, continuously live in Russia as a permanent resident for at least five years (this term is limited to one year for valued specialists, political asylum seekers and refugees), have legal means of existence, promise to obey the laws and Constitution of Russia and be fluent in the Russian language.

There is also a possibility to naturalize in a simplified order, in which certain requirements will be waived. Eligible for that are persons, at least one parent of whom is a Russian citizen living on Russian territory; persons, who lived on the territories of the former Soviet republics but never obtained citizenships of those nations after they gained independence; persons, who were born on the territory of RSFSR and formerly held Soviet citizenship; persons married to Russian citizens for at least 3 years; persons, who served in Russian Armed Forces under contract for at least 3 years; parents of mentally incapacitated children over 18 who are Russian citizens; participants of the State Program for Assisting Compatriots Residing Abroad; and some other categories.[19]

 South Africa

Chapter 2 of the South African Citizenship Act, enacted on October 6, 1995, defines who is considered a naturalized citizen at the time of the act and also outlines the naturalization process for future immigrants.[20]

Any person who immediately prior to the commencement of the act had been a South African citizen via naturalization, had been deemed to be a South African citizen by registration, or had been a citizen via naturalization of any of the former states now composing South Africa is now considered to be a naturalized citizen of South Africa.[20]

Those wishing to apply for naturalization in the future must apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and must meet a slew of requirements. First, naturalization applicants must be over the age of 18 and must have been a permanent resident of South Africa for one year prior to application and for four out of the eight years prior to application. Applicants must also demonstrate good character and knowledge of the basic responsibilities and privileges of a South African citizen. The ability to communicate in one of the official languages of South Africa is also required. Applicants must show the intention to reside in South Africa after naturalization, and they are required to make a declaration of allegiance.[20]According to Article 3, subsection 3 of the South African constitution, national legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.

Being a naturalized South African citizen is a privilege, not a right. Even after meeting all the requirements and going through the naturalization process, the minister holds the right to deny citizenship.[21] Foreign spouses of South African citizens can apply for naturalization after two years of marriage, but is subject to potential denial of the minister. The minister can also grant citizenship to minors, if their parent applies for them.[20]

The minister also holds the power to revoke naturalization at any time for specific reasons listed in the Act. Reasons for revoking the naturalization certificate include marrying someone who is a citizen of another country and holding citizenship in another country, or applying for citizenship of another country without prior authorization for retention of citizenship.[21] If a permanent resident is denied naturalization, he or she must wait at least one year before reapplying.[20]

 United Kingdom

There has always been a distinction in the law of England and Wales between the subjects of the monarch and aliens: the monarch's subjects owed the monarch allegiance, and included those born in his or her dominions (natural-born subjects) and those who later gave him or her their allegiance (naturalised subjects). Today, the requirements for naturalisation as a citizen of the United Kingdom depend on whether or not one is the spouse or civil partner of a citizen. An applicant who is a spouse or civil partner of a British citizen must:

  • hold indefinite leave to remain in the UK (or an equivalent such as Right of Abode or Irish citizenship)
  • have lived legally in the UK for three years
  • been outside of the UK no more than 90 days during the one-year period prior to filing the application.
  • show sufficient knowledge of life in the UK, either by passing the Life in the United Kingdom test or by attending combined English language and citizenship classes. Proof of this must be supplied with one's application for naturalisation. Those aged 65 or over may be able to claim exemption.
  • meet specified English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language competence standards. Those who pass the Life in the UK test are deemed to meet English language requirements.

For those not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, the requirements are:

  • Five years legal residence in the UK
  • Indefinite leave to remain or "equivalent" for this purpose (see above) must have been held for 12 months
  • the applicant must intend to continue to live in the UK or work overseas for the UK government or a British corporation or association
  • the same "good character" standards apply as for those married to British citizens
  • the same language and knowledge of life in the UK standards apply as for those married to British citizens.

 United States

"The sole authority to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States is conferred upon the Attorney General."[22] In particular cases, however, federal judges may enjoin the Attorney General to confer U.S. nationality upon a person.[1][3] The term "Attorney General" in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes any immigration judge or member of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

The INA states the following:

No person, except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, shall be naturalized unless such applicant, (1) immediately preceding the date of filing his application for naturalization has resided continuously, after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence, within the United States for at least five years and during the five years immediately preceding the date of filing his application has been physically present therein for periods totaling at least half of that time, and who has resided within the State or within the district of the Service in the United States in which the applicant filed the application for at least three months, (2) has resided continuously within the United States from the date of the application up to the time of admission to citizenship, and (3) during all the periods referred to in this subsection has been and still is a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.[2]

Usnaturalization
A man taking the required citizenship oath of allegiance in front of U.S. government officials in New York City (1910).
Naturalization ceremony at Kennedy Space Center
New citizens at a naturalization ceremony at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (2010).

The Naturalization Act of 1795 set the initial rules on naturalization: "free, White persons" who had been resident for five years or more.[23] An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization after only one year of residence in the United States. An 1894 law extended the same privilege to honorably discharged five-year veterans of the Navy or Marine Corps. Laws enacted in 1919, 1926, 1940, and 1952 continued preferential treatment provisions for veterans.[24]

Following the Spanish–American War in 1898, Philippine citizens were classified as U.S. nationals, and the 1917 Jones–Shafroth Act granted U.S. citizenship to natives of Puerto Rico. But the 1934 Tydings–McDuffie Act reclassified Filipinos as aliens, and set a quota of 50 immigrants per year, and otherwise applying the Immigration Act of 1924 to them.

The Magnuson Act repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. During the 1940s, 100 annual immigrants from British India and the Philippines were allowed. The War Brides Act of 1945 permitted soldiers to bring back their foreign wives and established precedent in naturalization through marriage. The Immigration Act of 1965 finally allowed people from all nations to be given equal access to immigration and naturalization.

Illegal immigration became a major issue in the United States at the end of the 20th century. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, while tightening border controls, also provided the opportunity of naturalization for illegal aliens who had been in the country for at least four years. Today, lawful permanent residents of the United States are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years,[1] unless they continue to be married to a U.S. citizen, in which case they can apply after only three years of permanent residency.[25]

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the naturalization process for children adopted internationally. A child under age 18 who is adopted by at least one U.S. citizen parent, and is in the custody of the citizen parent(s), is now automatically naturalized once admitted to the United States as an immigrant or when legally adopted in the United States, depending on the visa under which the child was admitted to the United States. The Act also provides that the non-citizen minor child of a newly naturalized U.S. citizen, whether by birth or adoption, also automatically receives U.S. citizenship

Other countries

The following list is a brief summary of the duration of legal residence before a national of a foreign state, without any cultural, historical, or marriage ties or connections to the state in question, can request citizenship under that state's naturalization laws.

Country Residence requirement Dual
citizenship
Notes Main article
 Albania 5 years[26] Yes Continuous residence Albanian nationality law
 Andorra 20 years No Continuous residence as a permanent resident, unless the applicant has spent all of their mandatory education in Andorra in which case 10 years continuous as a permanent residence.[27] Andorran nationality law
 Angola 10 years Yes Continuous residence as a permanent resident immediately before the application[28] Angolan nationality law
 Argentina 2 years Yes Continuous residence as a permanent resident immediately before the application[29] Argentine nationality law
 Armenia 3 years Yes Armenian nationality law
 Australia 4 years Yes Legal residency in Australia including 1 year as a permanent resident immediately prior to making an application[30] Australian nationality law
 Austria 10–30 years No, with limited exceptions Exceptions for those born in Austria, citizens of another EEA country, refugees or "exceptionally integrated" in which case it is 6 years.[31] Austrian nationality law
 Azerbaijan 5 years No The applicant must be a fluent speaker of the Azerbaijani language. Azerbaijani nationality law
 Belgium 5 years Yes[32] Continuous residence[33] Belgian nationality law
 Bangladesh 5 years[34] Yes Bangladeshi nationality law
 Barbados 5 years[35][36] Barbadian nationality law
 Belarus 7 years[37] Yes Belarusian nationality law
 Benin 10 years Yes Beninese nationality law
 Belize 5 years Yes Belizean nationality law
 Bhutan 20 years[38] No Bhutanese nationality law
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 8 years Continuous residence as a permanent resident.[39] Bosnia and Herzegovina nationality law
 Brazil 4 years Yes Uninterrupted residence.[40] Brazilian nationality law
 Bulgaria 10 years[41] Bulgarian nationality law
 Burkina Faso 10 years[42] Burkinabé nationality law
 Cambodia 5 years Yes Cambodian nationality law
 Canada 3 years Yes 3 out of 5 years as a permanent resident.[43] Canadian nationality law
 Chile 5 years Yes Continuous residence Chilean nationality law
 Colombia 5 years Yes As a permanent resident Colombian nationality law
 Costa Rica 5 years for Latin Americans and Spanish, 7 years for the rest Yes Requires proven knowledge of Spanish language and Costa Rica's history, having a way of living, no criminal records and two witnesses.[44] Costa Rican nationality law
 Croatia 8 years Partial Continuous residence[45] The applicant must be a fluent speaker of the Croatian language and proficient in the Latin script.[46] Croatian nationality law
 Cuba N/A No Foreigners cannot become naturalized citizens of Cuba. Cuban nationality law
 Cyprus 7 years[47] Yes[47] or by using the "Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by Exception", a government run cash-for-passport program.[48] Cypriot nationality law
 Czech Republic 5 years Yes 5 years as permanent residence or 10 years residence.[49] Czech nationality law
 Denmark 9 years Yes (since Sept 2015) Continuous residence as a permanent resident immediately before the application[50] Danish nationality law
 El Salvador 1 year for Latin Americans and Spanish, 5 years for the rest Yes Salvadoran nationality law
 Estonia 8 years No (with limited exceptions) 8 years residence out of which 5 years as a permanent residence.[51] Estonian nationality law
 Finland 5 years Yes Continuous residence Finnish nationality law
 Fiji 5 years 5 years of lawful residence out of the previous 10 years Fijian nationality law
 France 5 years Yes Continuous residency. Two years continuous residency for applicants who have had at least two years of higher education in France. French nationality law
 Germany 8 years Yes, for EU/Swiss citizens and under certain conditions for others Continuous residence, including at least twelve months with an unrestricted right to stay. Required length of stay can be reduced by up to two years subject to meeting integration criteria. German nationality law
 Greece 7 years[52] Yes Greek nationality law
 Hungary 8 years Yes Continuous residence.[53] Hungarian nationality law
 Iceland 7 years[54] Yes Icelandic nationality law
 Ireland 5 years Yes 5 years over the last 9 years, including at least 1 year before applying.[55] The law provides an exemption to the residency requirements for persons who are "of Irish descent or associations". Irish nationality law
 Italy 10 years Yes The residence has to be continuous. The law provide some cases in which there is a faster access to naturalization: 3 years if at least one grandparent was/is Italian, 4 years for EU nationals, 5 years for refugees or stateless people. Italian nationality law
 Japan 5 years No Continuous residence. 3 years if married to a Japanese national. Japanese nationality law
 Kazakhstan 5 years No Kazakhstani nationality law
 Latvia 10 years Yes, under certain conditions Latvian nationality law
 Liberia 2 years No No person shall be naturalized unless he [sic] is a Negro or of Negro descent.[56] Although, Liberian law allows members of other races to hold permanent residency status.[57] Liberian nationality law
 Liechtenstein 10 years[58] Years spent in Liechtenstein under the age 20 count double Liechtenstein nationality law
 Lithuania 10 years No Continuous residence as a permanent resident. 7 years if married to a Lithuanian national.[59] Lithuanian nationality law
 Luxembourg 5 years Yes A minimum of 12 months' continuous residence prior to applying for naturalization. The applicant must pass the Luxembourgish language examinations or have had at least 7 years of education in a Luxembourgish school.[60] Luxembourgish nationality law
 Malawi 7 years 5 years for a person who is of an African race or has Commonwealth or Malawian ties Malawian nationality law
 Malta 5 years[61] or by using the Individual Investor Programme, a government run cash-for-passport program.[62] Maltese nationality law
 Moldova 10 years Yes 8 years for stateless citizens or recognised refugees Moldovan nationality law
 Monaco 10 years No Continuous residence.[63] Monégasque nationality law
 Montenegro 10 years[64] No, except under certain conditions Montenegrin nationality law
 Mozambique 5 years Yes Mozambican nationality law
 Myanmar N/A No Foreigners cannot become naturalized citizens of Myanmar.[65] Myanmar nationality law
 Netherlands 5 years Yes (under certain conditions) Continuous residence[66] Dutch nationality law
 New Zealand 5 years Yes Continuous residence (reside in NZ for at least 240 days in each of those 5 years, 1,350 days in total) as a permanent resident immediately before the application[67] New Zealand nationality law
 North Macedonia 8 years No (with limited exceptions) Continuous residence.[68] Macedonian nationality law
 Norway 7 years Yes (under certain conditions) 7 years out of the previous 10 (with out-of-realm vacations of up to 2 months per year) as a permanent resident immediately before the application[69] Norwegian nationality law
 Oman 20 years No Omani nationality law
 Paraguay 3 years[70] Paraguayan nationality law
 Peru 2 years Yes (under certain conditions) Continuous residence Peruvian nationality law
 Philippines 10 years (5 years if certain conditions are met)[16] Yes Continuous residence Philippine nationality law
 Poland 10 years Yes 10 years residence or 3 years permanent residence.[71] Polish nationality law
 Portugal 5 years Yes Continuous/non-continuous residence,[72] or a by using a government run cash-for-passport program, introduced in 2012/2013.[73] Portuguese nationality law
 Romania 8 years[74] Yes Romanian nationality law
 San Marino 30 years 15 years for foreigners married to a citizen of San Marino Sammarinese nationality law
 Russia 5 years Yes Continuous residence. 3 years if married to a Russian citizen. 1 year for valued specialists and refugees.[75] Russian nationality law
 Samoa 5 years[76] Samoan nationality law
 Serbia 3 years Yes Continuous residence[77] Serbian nationality law
 Slovakia 8 years[78] Partial Slovak nationality law
 Slovenia 10 years Yes, but naturalization normally requires giving up other citizenships 10 years residence, 5 years continuous before the application.[79] Slovenian nationality law
 Spain 10 years[80] Partial 2 years for people from Latin America, Andorra, Portugal, Philippines or Equatorial Guinea[81] / 5 years, by using a government run cash-for-passport program dupped the "golden visa", introduced in 2012/2013.[73] Spanish nationality law
 Somalia 7 years No Somalian nationality law
 South Korea 5 years Partial
Only allowed for foreign born nationals who married to a Korean citizen; Korean men with multiple nationalities by birth who served in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces; Korean women with multiple nationalities by birth who have vowed their intention not to exercise their foreign nationality in Korea; and overseas Koreans at least 65 years of age
Continuous residence. 3 years continuous if married to a South Korean national.[82] South Korean nationality law
 Sweden 5 years Yes Continuous residence. 4 years continuous for stateless people and refugees.[83] Swedish nationality law
  Switzerland 12 years Yes The years between the age of 10 and 20 count double.[84] Swiss nationality law
 Taiwan 5 years Partial Nationality law of the Republic of China
 Thailand 5 years No Continuous residence, The applicant must have knowledge of the Thai language.
Residence and language requirememts are waived for spouses and children of Thai citizens.[85]
Thai nationality law
 Togo 5 years No Togolese nationality law
 Tonga 5 years[86] Tongan nationality law
 Turkey 5 years Yes Continuous residence. The applicant must be a fluent speaker of the Turkish language.[87] Turkish nationality law
 Ukraine 5 years Yes Ukrainian nationality law
 Uruguay 5 years Yes 3 years if the applicant has a Uruguayan family member. Uruguayan nationality law
 Uzbekistan 5 years No Uzbekistani nationality law

[88]

Mass naturalizations

A few rare mass naturalization processes have been implemented by nation states. In 1891, Brazil granted naturalization to all aliens living in the country.[89] In 1922, Greece massively naturalized all the Greek refugees coming back from Turkey. The second massive naturalization process was in favor of Armenian refugees coming from Turkey, who went to Syria, Lebanon or other former Ottoman countries. Reciprocally, Turkey massively naturalized the refugees of Turkish descent or other ethnic backgrounds in Muslim creed from these countries during a redemption process.

Canada instituted a mass naturalization by Act of Parliament with the enactment of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946.

After annexation of the territories east of the Curzon line by the Soviet Union in 1945, Soviets naturalized en masse all the inhabitants of those territories—including ethnic Poles, as well as its other citizens who had been deported into the Soviet Union, mainly to Kazakhstan. Those persons were forcibly naturalized as Soviet citizens. Later on, Germany granted to the ethnic German population in Russia and Kazakhstan full citizenship rights. Poland has a limited repatriation program in place.

The most recent massive naturalization case resulted from the Argentine economic crisis in the beginning of the 21st century. Existing or slightly updated right of return laws in Spain and Italy allowed many of their diasporic descendants to obtain—in many cases to regain—naturalization in virtue of jus sanguinis, as in the Greek case. Hence, many Argentines acquired European nationality.

Since the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants citizenship only to those "born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof", and the original United States Constitution only grants Congress the power of naturalization, it could be argued that all acts of Congress that expand the right of citizenship are cases of mass naturalization. This includes the acts that extended U.S. citizenship to citizens of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 which made all Native Americans citizens (most of them were previously excluded under the "jurisdiction" clause of the 14th Amendment).

In the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, mass naturalisation also happened during the administration of United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) and Sabah People's United Front (BERJAYA's) Muslim-dominated political parties to increase the Muslim population in the territory by naturalising immigrants and refugees from the mainly-Muslim dominated areas of Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines and Sulawesi of Indonesia.[90][91][92]

In occupied territories

The mass naturalization of native persons in occupied territories is illegal under the laws of war (Hague and Geneva Conventions). However, there have been many instances of such illegal mass naturalizations in the 20th century.

Denaturalization

Denaturalization is the reverse of naturalization, when a state deprives one of its citizens of his or her citizenship. From the point of view of the individual, denaturalization means revocation or loss of citizenship. Denaturalization can be based on various legal justifications. The most severe form is the "stripping of citizenship" when denaturalization takes place as a penalty for actions considered criminal by the state, often only indirectly related to nationality, for instance for having served in a foreign military. In countries that enforce single citizenship, voluntary naturalization in another country will lead to an automatic loss of the original citizenship; the language of the law often refers to such cases as "giving up one's citizenship" or (implicit) renunciation of citizenship. In another case, affecting only foreign-born citizens, denaturalization can refer to the loss of citizenship by an annulment of naturalization, also known as "administrative denaturalization" where the original act of naturalization is found to be invalid, for instance due to an administrative error or if it had been based on fraud (including bribery). In the US, the Bancroft Treaties in the 19th century regulated legislation concerning denaturalization.

In 2010,[93] the U.S. government launched a program (Operation Janus) “to prevent aliens who received a final removal order under a different identity from obtaining immigration benefits”.[94] In January 2018, for the first time, a denaturalization was performed as a result of this program,[95] and a further program (Operation Second Look) was initiated by the HSI specifically to address leads received from Operation Janus. In June 2018, UCSIS announced an increase of the efforts to detect fraudulent naturalization cases, aiming at the revocation of the citizenship of individuals who had applied under false pretense.[94]

Before World War I

In the United States, the proposed, but never ratified, Titles of Nobility amendment of 1810 would revoke the American citizenship of anyone who would "accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility" or who would receive any gifts or honors from a foreign power.

Between World Wars

Before World War I, only a small number of countries had laws governing denaturalization that could be enforced against citizens guilty of "lacking patriotism". Such denaturalized citizens became stateless persons. During and after the war, most European countries passed amendments to revoke naturalization.[96]

In Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power or Bare Life (1998), philosopher Giorgio Agamben mentioned a number of denaturalization laws that were passed after World War I by most European countries:

It is important to note that starting with the period of World War I, many European states began to introduce laws which permitted their own citizens to be denaturalized and denationalized. The first was France, in 1915, with regard to naturalized citizens of "enemy" origins; in 1922 the example was followed by Belgium, which revoked the naturalization of citizens who had committed "anti-national" acts during the war; in 1926 the Fascist regime in Italy passed a similar law concerning citizens who had shown themselves to be "unworthy of Italian citizenship"; in 1933 it was Austria's turn, and so forth, until in 1935 the Nuremberg Laws divided German citizens into full citizens and citizens without political rights. These laws—and the mass statelessness that ensued—mark a decisive turning point in the life of the modern nation-state and its definitive emancipation from the naive notions of "people" and "citizen"

The 1915 French denaturalization law applied only to naturalized citizens with "enemy origins" who had kept their original nationality. Later under Raymond Poincaré's government, another law was passed in 1927 which entitled the government to denaturalize any new citizen who committed acts contrary to the national interest.

In 1916, Portugal passed a law which automatically denaturalized all citizens born to a German father.

In 1922, Belgium enacted a law revoking the naturalization of persons accused of having committed "antinational acts" during the war; this was supplemented in 1934 by a new decree against people "in dereliction of their duties as Belgian citizens."

After 1926 in Italy, people who were deemed not to deserve the Italian citizenship or who were considered to represent a threat to the public order could lose their naturalization.

Egypt in 1926 and Turkey in 1928 enacted laws authorizing denaturalization of any person threatening the public order. Austria passed a similar law in 1933 by which it could denaturalize any citizen who participated in a hostile action against the state. Russia also passed several similar decrees after 1921.[96]

In 1933, Nazi Germany passed a law authorizing it to denaturalize any person "living abroad" and began restricting the citizenship rights of naturalized citizens of Jewish origin, followed in 1935 by citizens by birth on the basis of the Nuremberg laws.

During Vichy France, 15,000 persons, mostly Jews, were denaturalized (between June 1940 and August 1944), following the setting up, in July 1940, of a Commission charged of revision of naturalizations since the 1927 reform of the nationality law.[97]

After World War II

In the United States

Loss of U.S. citizenship was a consequence of foreign military service based on Section 349(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act until its provisions were found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Afroyim v. Rusk.[98][99]

Yaser Esam Hamdi was a U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan in 2001. He was fighting against U.S. and Afghan Northern Alliance forces, siding with the Taliban. He was named by the Bush administration as an illegal enemy combatant, and militarily detained in the country for almost three years without receiving any charges. On September 23, 2004, the U.S. Justice Department agreed to release Hamdi to Saudi Arabia on the condition that he give up his U.S. citizenship, though since it was done under duress it is possible that he can later reclaim it.

In the United Kingdom

Section 4 of the British Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002[100] gave power to the Home Secretary to ‘deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person has done anything seriously prejudicial to the vital interests’ of the United Kingdom etc., except in the case where such might render the person stateless.[101]

In Canada

Under Canadian citizenship law citizenship can be revoked by an order from the federal cabinet if:

  • Naturalized Canadians is convicted of fraud in relation to their citizenship application or original admission to Canada as an immigrant[102]

In the past (pre-1977) revoking citizenship was more broad:

  • Naturalization in another country
  • Long residence overseas (before 1967)
  • Lost based on parent's loss of Canadian citizenship

Those who are revoked can appeal to the Federal Court of Canada.

In South Africa

Bantustans in South Africa
Map of the black homelands in South Africa at the end of Apartheid in 1994

In Apartheid-era South Africa, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act, 1970, removed South African citizenship from Black South Africans, making them citizens of nominally-independent or self-governing tribal "homelands", the Bantustans — none of which achieved international recognition. In parallel with the creation of the homelands, South Africa's black population was subjected to a massive programme of forced relocation. It has been estimated that 3.5 million people were forced from their homes from the 1960s through the 1980s, many being resettled in the Bantustans.

With the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1994, the Bantustans were dismantled and their territory reincorporated into the Republic of South Africa. The drive to achieve this was spearheaded by the African National Congress as a central element of its programme of reform. The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act itself was repealed by the 1993 Interim Constitution, with all citizens being restored to their South African citizenship.

See also

References

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External links

Media related to Naturalization at Wikimedia Commons

Citizenship of the United States

Citizenship of the United States is a status that entails specific rights, duties and benefits. Citizenship is understood as a "right to have rights" since it serves as a foundation of fundamental rights derived from and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, such as the right to freedom of expression, vote, due process, live and work in the United States, and to receive federal assistance. The implementation of citizenship requires attitudes including allegiance to the republic, participation, and an impulse to promote communities. Certain rights are so fundamental that they are guaranteed to all persons, not just citizens. These include those rights guaranteed by the first 8 Amendments that pertain to individuals. However, not all U.S. citizens, such as those living in Puerto Rico, have the right to vote in federal elections.

There are two primary sources of citizenship: birthright citizenship, in which a person is presumed to be a citizen if he or she was born within the territorial limits of the United States, or—providing certain other requirements are met—born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent, and naturalization, a process in which an eligible legal immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted. These two pathways to citizenship are specified in the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution's 1868 Fourteenth Amendment which reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

National citizenship signifies membership in the country as a whole; state citizenship, in contrast, signifies a relation between a person and a particular state and has application generally limited to domestic matters. State citizenship may affect (1) tax decisions and (2) eligibility for some state-provided benefits such as higher education and (3) eligibility for state political posts such as U.S. Senator.

In Article One of the Constitution, the power to establish a "uniform rule of naturalization" is granted explicitly to Congress.

U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain their previous citizenship, though they must renounce allegiance to the other country. A U.S. citizen retains U.S. citizenship when becoming the citizen of another country, should that country's laws allow it. U.S. citizenship can be renounced by Americans who also hold another citizenship via a formal procedure at a U.S. Embassy, and it can also be restored.

Colombian nationality law

Colombian nationality is typically obtained by birth in Colombia when one of the parents is either a Colombian citizen or a Colombian legal resident, by birth abroad when at least one parent was born in Colombia, or by naturalization, as defined by Article 96 of the Constitution of Colombia and the Law 43-1993 as modified by Legislative Act 1 of 2002.

French nationality law

French nationality law is historically based on the principles of jus soli (Latin for "right of soil"), according to Ernest Renan's definition, in opposition to the German definition of nationality, jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood"), formalised by Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

The 1993 Méhaignerie Law required children born in France of foreign parents to request French nationality at adulthood, rather than being automatically accorded citizenship. This "manifestation of will" requirement was subsequently abrogated by the Guigou Law of 1998, but children born in France of foreign parents remain foreign until obtaining legal majority.

Children born in France to tourists or other short-term visitors do not acquire French citizenship by virtue of birth in France: residency must be proven. Since immigration became increasingly a political theme in the 1980s, both left-wing and right-wing governments have issued several laws restricting the possibilities of being naturalized.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Pub.L. 82–414, 66 Stat. 163, enacted June 27, 1952), also known as the McCarran–Walter Act, codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. ch. 12), governs immigration to and citizenship in the United States. It has been in effect since June 27, 1952. Before this Act, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized within one body of text.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (H.R. 2580; Pub.L. 89–236, 79 Stat. 911, enacted June 30, 1968), also known as the Hart–Celler Act, changed the way quotas were allocated by ending the National Origins Formula that had been in place in the United States since the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. Representative Emanuel Celler of New York proposed the bill, Senator Philip Hart of Michigan co-sponsored it, and Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts helped to promote it.

The Hart–Celler Act abolished the quota system based on national origins that had been American immigration policy since the 1920s. The 1965 Act marked a change from past U.S. policy which had discriminated against non-northern and western Europeans. In removing racial and national barriers the Act would significantly alter the demographic mix in the U.S.The new law maintained the per-country limits, but also created preference visa categories that focused on immigrants' skills and family relationships with citizens or U.S. residents. The bill set numerical restrictions on visas at 170,000 per year, with a per-country-of-origin quota. However, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and "special immigrants" had no restrictions.

Immigration and Naturalization Service

The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1933 to 1940 and the U.S. Department of Justice from 1940 to 2003.

Referred to by some as former INS and by others as legacy INS, the agency ceased to exist under that name on March 1, 2003, when most of its functions were transferred to three new entities – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – within the newly created Department of Homeland Security, as part of a major government reorganization following the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Prior to 1933, there were separate offices administering immigration and naturalization matters, known as the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization, respectively. The INS was established on June 10, 1933, merging these previously separate areas of administration. In 1890, the federal government, rather than the individual states, regulated immigration into the United States, and the Immigration Act of 1891 established a Commissioner of Immigration in the Treasury Department. Reflecting changing governmental concerns, immigration was transferred to the purview of the United States Department of Commerce and Labor after 1903 and the Department of Labor after 1913. In 1940, with increasing concern about national security, immigration and naturalization was organized under the authority of the Department of Justice.In 2003 the administration of immigration services, including permanent residence, naturalization, asylum, and other functions, became the responsibility of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), which existed under that name only for a short time before changing to its current name, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The investigative and enforcement functions of the INS (including investigations, deportation, and intelligence) were combined with the U.S. Customs investigators to create U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The border functions of the INS, which included the Border Patrol and INS Inspectors, were combined with U.S. Customs Inspectors to create U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Japanese nationality law

Japanese nationality is a legal designation and set of rights granted to those people who have met the criteria for citizenship by parentage or by naturalization. Nationality is in the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice and is generally governed by the Nationality Law of 1950.

List of Acts of the Parliament of England, 1603–1641

This is a list of Acts of the Parliament of England for the years 1603–1641.

For Acts passed during the period 1707–1800 see List of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain. See also the List of Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, the List of Acts of the Parliament of Ireland to 1700, and the List of Acts of the Parliament of Ireland, 1701–1800.

For Acts passed from 1801 onwards see List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. For Acts of the devolved parliaments and assemblies in the United Kingdom, see the List of Acts of the Scottish Parliament from 1999, the List of Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the List of Acts and Measures of the National Assembly for Wales; see also the List of Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

For medieval statutes, etc. that are not considered to be Acts of Parliament, see the List of English statutes.

The number shown after each Act's title is its chapter number. Acts are cited using this number, preceded by the year(s) of the reign during which the relevant parliamentary session was held; thus the Union with Ireland Act 1800 is cited as "39 & 40 Geo. 3 c. 67", meaning the 67th Act passed during the session that started in the 39th year of the reign of George III and which finished in the 40th year of that reign. Note that the modern convention is to use Arabic numerals in citations (thus "41 Geo. 3" rather than "41 Geo. III"). Note also that Acts of the last session of the Parliament of Great Britain and the first session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom are both cited as "41 Geo. 3".

Acts passed by the Parliament of England did not have a short title; however, some of these Acts have subsequently been given a short title by Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (such as the Short Titles Act 1896).

Acts passed by the Parliament of England were deemed to have come into effect on the first day of the session in which they were passed. Because of this, the years given in the list below may in fact be the year before a particular Act was passed.

See also the List of Ordinances and Acts of the Parliament of England, 1642–1660 for Ordinances and Acts passed by the Long Parliament and other bodies without royal assent, and which were not considered to be valid legislation following the Restoration in 1660.

Naturalisation (biology)

In biology, naturalisation (or naturalization) is any process by which a non-native organism or species spreads into the wild and its reproduction is sufficient to maintain its population. Such populations are said to be naturalised.

Some populations do not sustain themselves reproductively, but exist because of continued influx from elsewhere. Such a non-sustaining population, or the individuals within it, are said to be adventive. Cultivated plants are a major source of adventive populations.

Naturalised species may become invasive species if they become sufficiently abundant to have an adverse effect on native plants and animals.

Naturalization Act of 1790

The original United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship. This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were free White persons of good character. It thus excluded Native Americans, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks and later Asians, although free blacks were allowed citizenship at the state level in certain states. It also provided for citizenship for the children of U.S. citizens born abroad, stating that such children "shall be considered as natural born citizens," the only US statute ever to use the term. It specified that the right of citizenship did "not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States."

Naturalization Act of 1795

The United States Naturalization Act of January 29, 1795 (1 Stat. 414) repealed and replaced the Naturalization Act of 1790. The 1795 Act differed from the 1790 Act by increasing the period of required residence from two to five years in the United States, by introducing the Declaration of Intention requirement, or "first papers", which created a two-step naturalization process, and by omitting the term "natural born." The Act specified that naturalized citizenship was reserved only for "free white person[s]." It also changed the requirement in the 1790 Act of "good character" to read "good moral character."

Naturalization Act of 1798

The Naturalization Act, passed by the United States Congress on June 18, 1798 (1 Stat. 566), increased the period necessary for immigrants to become naturalized citizens in the United States from 5 to 14 years.

Although the law was passed under the guise of protecting national security, most historians conclude it was really intended to decrease the number of voters who disagreed with the Federalist party. At the time, most immigrants supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the political rivals of the Federalists. This act was repealed in 1802 by the Naturalization Law of 1802.

A number of changes were made to the previous naturalization law:

The "notice time" refers to the period that immigrants had to wait after declaring their intent to become a citizen. The "residence period" refers to the period they had to live in the United States before they could become a citizen. The Naturalization Act of 1798 is considered one of the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed contemporaneously in 1798. Like the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795, the 1798 act also restricted citizenship to "free white persons".

Also, the act distinguished between native, citizen, denizen, or subject of any nation or state. The act is the first to maintain records of immigration and residence, and provided certificates of residence for white immigrant aliens, for the purpose of establishing the date of arrival for subsequent qualification for.

Naturalization Act of 1870

The Naturalization Act of 1870 (16 Stat. 254) was a United States federal law that created a system of controls for the naturalization process and penalties for fraudulent practices. It is also noted for extending the naturalization process to "aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent."

Naturalization Act of 1906

The Naturalization Act of 1906 was an act of the United States Congress signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt that revised the Naturalization Act of 1870 and required immigrants to learn English in order to become naturalized citizens. The bill was passed on June 29, 1906, and took effect September 27, 1906. It was repealed and replaced by the Nationality Act of 1940. It was modified by the Immigration Act of 1990.

The legislation established the federal government as the arbiter of naturalization policy. It created the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, which provided for the first uniform naturalization laws in the country. Prior to 1906, an alien could be naturalized in any U.S. "court of record." State-level naturalization courts managed proceedings and had varying standards across the country. After September 26, 1906, naturalization could only be done in courts having a seal and a clerk, and exerting universal competence.

Naturalization Law of 1802

The United States Congress passed the Naturalization Law of 1802 on April 14, 1802. The 1802 act replaced the Naturalization Act of 1798, and provided:

The "free white" requirement remained in place

The alien had to declare, at least three years in advance, his intent to become a U.S. citizen.

The previous 14-year residency requirement was reduced to 5 years.

Resident children of naturalized citizens were to be considered citizens

Children born abroad of US citizens were to be considered citizens

Former British soldiers during the "late war" were barred unless the state legislature made an exception for themThe 1802 Act further directed the clerk of the court to record the entry of all aliens into the United States. The clerk collected information including the applicant's name, birthplace, age, nation of allegiance, country of emigration, and place of intended settlement, and granted each applicant a certificate that could be exhibited to the court as evidence of time of arrival in the United States.

Certain doubts had arisen under the previous Act as to whether State and local courts were included within the description of U.S. district or circuit courts. The act of 1802 reaffirmed that every State and Territorial court was considered a district court within the meaning of the laws pertaining to naturalization, and that any persons naturalized in such courts were accorded the same rights and privileges as if they had been naturalized in a district or circuit court of the United States.

The act of 1802 was the last major piece of naturalization legislation during the 19th century. A number of minor revisions were introduced, but these merely altered or clarified details of evidence and certification without changing the basic nature of the admission procedure. The most important of these revisions occurred in 1855, when citizenship was automatically granted to alien wives of U.S. citizens, and in 1870, when the naturalization process was opened "to persons of African descent".

Philippine nationality law

The Philippine nationality law is based upon the principles of jus sanguinis (Latin for right of blood) and therefore descent from a parent who is a citizen or national of the Republic of the Philippines is the primary method of acquiring Philippine citizenship. This is contrasted with the legal principle of jus soli where being born on the soil of a country, even to foreign parents, grants one citizenship. For those born in the Philippines to non-Filipino parents, the Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000 (R.A. 9139) provides a path for administrative naturalization for those who qualify.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that administers the country's naturalization and immigration system. It is a successor to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which was dissolved by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and replaced by three components within the DHS: USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

USCIS performs many of the duties of the former INS, namely processing and adjudicating various immigration matters, including applications for work visas, asylum, and citizenship. Additionally, the agency is officially tasked with safeguarding national security, eliminating immigration case backlogs, and improving efficiency. USCIS is headed by a director, currently Lee Cissna, who reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

United States nationality law

The United States nationality law is a uniform rule of naturalization of the United States set out in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, enacted under the power of Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution (also referred to as the Nationality Clause), which reads: Congress shall have Power - "To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization..." The 1952 Act sets forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of, and divestiture from, American nationality. The requirements have become more explicit since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, with the most recent changes to the law having been made by Congress in 2001.

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man who identified himself as a "high caste aryan, of full Indian blood," was racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the United States. In 1919, Thind filed a petition for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only "free white persons" and "aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent" to become United States citizens by naturalization.

After his petition was granted, Government attorneys initiated a proceeding to cancel Thind's naturalization and a trial followed in which the Government presented evidence of Thind's political activities as a founding member of the Ghadar Party, a violent Indian independence movement headquartered in San Francisco. Thind did not challenge the constitutionality of the racial restrictions. Instead, he attempted to have "high-caste" classified as "free white persons" within the meaning of the naturalization act based on the fact that both northern Indians and most Europeans are Indo-European peoples.

The court rejected this argument, holding that while Hindi-speaking high-caste Indians were indeed akin to white European peoples, they had intermarried too freely with the non-white pre-Indo-European populace of India, hence their present skin color. Because of the uncertainty this caused for scientific classification, the court decided to use a "common sense" definition of 'White' that did not allow for the scientific arguments Thind made and did not classify Indians as white.

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