Access to Nationality

Dual nationality and jus soli are becoming the norms for countries of immigration. Most parts of the procedure still discourage or exclude many from trying. To apply, immigrants in Europe wait on average 7 years in total because of some longterm residence requirements. Half of the countries make citizenship conditional upon income and high fees. Applicants are normally required to know the language, often at high or unclear levels. Tests rarely come with the support to pass them. After rather discretionary procedures, applicants can at least appeal and enjoy some protections from statelessness and withdrawal.

Traditional jus soli countries (CA, US, IE, UK, FR) and recently reformed countries (BE, DE, GR, LU, SE, PT) give their foreign residents a slightly favourable path to citizenship. Nationality policies are more unfavourable for societal integration in many new immigration countries in the Baltics, Central Europe, AT, CY, DK, MT and NO.


Best Case Add to MyPdf 

This is a composite of national policies found in May 2010 in at least one of the 31 countries.

All settled residents who see their future in the country get full support to become citizens and equally participate in public life. All citizens can be dual nationals. A child born in the country to immigrant parents becomes a citizen at birth (jus soli) like all other children. Someone born abroad has become attached to the country after living there for 3 years. She is entitled to the nationality when she meets the legal conditions, such as having no recent criminal record. The requirement to pass the basic language test and a citizenship course encourages her to succeed through free, flexible and professional courses and tests. As a new citizen, she has the same citizenship protections as her fellow nationals.

Worst Case Add to MyPdf 

This is a composite of national policies found in May 2010 in at least one of the 31 countries.

States that discourage immigrants from acquiring their nationality create a long-term democratic, social and economic deficit. The children and grandchildren of immigrants are still treated as foreigners. An immigrant is not considered eligible unless he has lived in the country for 12 years. New citizens cannot be dual nationals, though other citizens can. The other conditions are too onerous for many settled residents – or even nationals – to pass (e.g. income, fees of 1,500 euros). An applicant must pass demanding, discretionary and costly language and integration tests. The procedure is fully discretionary, without judicial oversight. As a new citizen, he can be stripped of his citizenship at any point in his life, even becoming stateless.

Changes & Trends Add to MyPdf 

New nationality laws significantly improved the conditions for integration in GR (+39) and LU (+32), but slightly undermined them in the UK (-16) and SK (-12). Otherwise, little has changed for most citizens-to-be. Some tests are more professional (DE) and better supported by courses (DE, EE and NL), while fees soared in IE, IT, UK and US. Stakeholders remain divided on whether residence requirements, conditions and security grounds promote or undermine integration in practice. Increasing conditions and years of residence can be viewed as obstacles and poor indicators of integration (GR, earlier PT, BE), or as ‘incentives’ (LU, SK, UK). A few new citizens will benefit from new protections from discretion, withdrawal, and statelessness (DE, GR, HU, LU). But new security grounds in SK and UK (2007) and proposals in BE, FR, NL and US would link security issues to new citizens. The debate centres on whether withdrawing citizenship from people of foreign origin will make society any more secure or integrated.