Nationality law of the Federated States of Micronesia
The nationality law of the Federated States of Micronesia determines who is or may become a citizen or national of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Article III of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia provides the basis for nationality law, while specific provisions are elaborated in 7 FSMC § 201 et seq.
Prior to the establishment of the Federated States of Micronesia, there existed the status of citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Trust Territory citizenship could be acquired through jus soli by birth in the Trust Territory (except if another citizenship was acquired at birth or later), through jus sanguinis in the case of a person born outside the Trust Territory to parents who were citizens of the Trust Territory by taking up residence in the Trust Territory before age 21, or by naturalization upon approval by the High Commissioner.
Under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, "A person who is a citizen of the Trust Territory immediately prior to the effective date of this Constitution and a domiciliary of a District ratifying this Constitution is a citizen and national of the Federated States of Micronesia." Article III, Sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution provided for a period of six months within which certain other Trust Territory citizens could become citizens and nationals of the FSM upon application to an FSM court: domiciliaries of other districts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and people who became United States nationals under the Covenant to establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
After independence, citizenship of the Federated States of Micronesia is based on jus sanguinis. Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that "a person born of parents one or both of whom are citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia is a citizen and national of the Federated States by birth".
Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution, as well as 7 FSMC § 201, prohibit dual citizenship, stating that "A citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia who is recognized as a citizen of another nation shall, within 3 years of his 18th birthday, or within 3 years of the effective date of this Constitution, whichever is later, register his intent to remain a citizen of the Federated States and renounce his citizenship of another nation. If he fails to comply with this Section, he becomes a national of the Federated States of Micronesia."
In 2004, Public Law 13-65 proposed to repeal Article III, Section 3 of the constitution, which as President Joseph Urusemal described it, "eliminates the constitutional barrier to dual citizenship", but would not actually permit dual citizenship unless Congress passed legislation defining cases in which dual citizenship would be permitted. When put to a referendum during the 2005 elections, however, this amendment failed to garner the 75% support in the popular vote that it required in order to become effective.
Naturalization is the conferral of FSM citizenship on an alien, or on an FSM national who is not a citizen. Naturalization procedures originally only applied to foreigners, but in 2008, Public Law 15-27 created procedures for FSM nationals to become FSM citizens as well, if they renounced the citizenship of other countries and followed certain other procedures. Naturalization is provided for in 7 FSMC § 204. Under regulations, naturalization requires a language assessment to confirm that the applicant has "an ability to read, write, and speak in words in ordinary usage" in the language of the state where he or she resides. Naturalization may be cancelled pursuant to § 205. Furthermore, under § 208, "any person who obtains naturalization through concealment of a material fact or willful misrepresentation in applying for naturalization, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned for a period of not more than two years, or fined not more than $10,000, or both."
Naturalization is quite difficult to obtain. By 1994, very few foreigners had been granted citizenship. 7 FSMC § 204 requires "Congress' recommendation by bill" prior to the President naturalizing a person as a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia. According to the United States' Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Congress exercised this power for the first time only in 1998, and continues to exercise it only on rare occasions. In 2013, Sei Francis Uemoto, the Pohnpei-born son of a Japanese immigrant father and Pohnpeian mother, who had lived in Japan until 1983 and since then in Pohnpei, became the first FSM national to be naturalized as an FSM citizen under the new procedures since 2008.
Loss of citizenship
7 FSMC § 206 names five grounds for loss of FSM citizenship. The first of these is "voluntarily obtain[ing] naturalization in a foreign state upon one's application". Though thousands of FSM citizens move to the United States under the Compact of Free Association, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, few migrants from countries with Compacts of Free Association with the United States take action to become U.S. citizens, as an example citing data from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service that only 7 FSM citizens naturalized as U.S. citizens in 1998. (FSM citizens must still qualify for U.S. permanent residence through normal procedures in order to qualify for naturalization, and the CFA does not offer them special privileges in this regard.)
The remaining four grounds for loss of FSM citizenship are:
- voluntarily taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or political subdivision thereof;
- voluntarily entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state, with certain exceptions for service in the United States Armed Forces
- voting in a political election in a foreign state where a prerequisite to such a vote is citizenship of that foreign state; or
- if over 18 years of age, voluntarily making a formal renunciation of FSM citizenship.
Additionally, 7 FSMC § 204 provides that a dual citizen who does not "register his intent to remain a citizen of the Federated States and renounce his citizenship of another nation" becomes a national rather than a citizen.
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