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United States service members are sworn in as citizens of the United States aboard the USS Midway in 2009

Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-national of a country acquires the nationality of that country after birth.[1] The definition of naturalization by the International Organization for Migration of the United Nations excludes citizenship that is automatically acquired (e.g. at birth) or is acquired by declaration. Naturalization usually involves an application or a motion and approval by legal authorities. The rules of naturalization vary from country to country but typically include a promise to obey and uphold that country's laws and taking and subscribing to an 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, some 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 many 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.[2][3][4]

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. Examples include Spain under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government, and Italy under Silvio Berlusconi's government.

Countries without a path to naturalization[edit]

Myanmar and Uruguay are currently the only countries in the world that deny immigrants any path to naturalization. Uruguayan legal citizenship has special characteristics. A person who acquires it retains their nationality of origin, which is determined by Uruguayan law to be that of their country of birth and therefore, is immutable. Legal citizens acquire political rights but do not acquire Uruguayan nationality as natural citizens do. According to Uruguayan law, those born in Uruguay or whose parents or grandparents are Uruguayan natural citizens are considered to be Uruguayan nationals.

As a result of Uruguay's unusual distinction between citizenship and nationality (it is the only country in the world that recognizes the right to citizenship without being a national), legal citizens have encountered problems with their Uruguayan passports at airports around the world since 2015. This is due to recommendations in the seventh edition of Doc. 9303 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which requires that travel documents issued by participating states include the "Nationality" field. The lack of a naturalization path means that the Nationality field in legal citizens' passports indicates their country of birth, which Uruguay assumes to be their nationality of origin. Many countries do not accept passports issued by a country that declares the holder to be a national of another country. As a consequence, it has severely curtailed legal citizens' exercise of the right to free movement, as their travel abroad is often difficult or downright impossible.[5]

Due to its current and narrow definition of nationality, Uruguay could be violating the sovereignty of other countries by assigning foreign nationalities in its official documents, thus overriding their powers. Some Uruguayan legal citizens may even, as a result of the application of a national law of a third nation and this Uruguayan interpretation, become de facto stateless.

Summary by country[edit]

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 Residence requirement notes Other notes Multiple citizenship Main article Ref
 Afghanistan 5 years No Afghan nationality law [6][7]
 Albania 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Albanian nationality law [8][9]
 Algeria 7 years Yes Algerian nationality law [10][11]
 Andorra 20 years Continuous permanent residence. Reduced to 10 years if all mandatory education completed in Andorra. No Andorran nationality law [12][13]
 Angola 10 years Continuous residence. Yes Angolan nationality law [14]
 Antigua and Barbuda 7 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen. Yes Antiguan and Barbudan nationality law [15][16]
 Argentina 2 years Continuous residence. Yes Argentine nationality law [17]
 Armenia 3 years Yes Armenian nationality law [18][19]
 Australia 4 years Lawful residence for 4 years including 12 months as permanent resident. Yes Australian nationality law [20][21][22]
 Austria 10 years Reduced to 6 years for people born in Austria, EU/EEA citizens, or those deemed "exceptionally integrated". Multiple nationalities allowed only by birth or with special permission. 10 years for refugees Partial Austrian nationality law [23][24]
 Azerbaijan 5 years No Azerbaijani nationality law [25]
 Bahamas 10 years No Bahamian nationality law [26][27]
 Bahrain 10 years No Bahraini nationality law [26][27]
 Bangladesh 5 years Partial Bangladeshi nationality law [28][29]
 Barbados 5 years Yes Barbadian nationality law [30][31][32]
 Belarus 5 years Yes Belarusian nationality law [33][34]
 Belgium 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Belgian nationality law [35][36]
 Belize 5 years Yes Belizean nationality law [37]
 Benin 10 years Yes Beninese nationality law [38]
 Bhutan 20 years Reduced to 15 years for those with citizen parent. No Bhutanese nationality law [39][40]
 Bolivia 3 years Uninterrupted residence. Yes Bolivian nationality law [41][42]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 8 years Continuous residence. Partial Bosnian nationality law [43][44]
 Botswana 10 years No Botswanan nationality law [45][46]
 Brazil 4 years Uninterrupted residence. Yes Brazilian nationality law [47][48]
United Kingdom British Overseas Territories 5 years Yes British Overseas Territories citizenship [49]
 Brunei 10 years No Bruneian nationality law [50]
 Bulgaria 5 years Reduced to 3 years if born in Bulgaria, married to a citizen, or settled in the country before age 18. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and spouses of Bulgarians can keep existing citizenship. Partial Bulgarian nationality law [51][52]
 Burkina Faso 10 years Yes Burkinabé nationality law [53]
 Burundi 10 years Reduced to 5 years if married to a citizen. Yes Burundian nationality law [54]
 Cambodia 7 years Yes Cambodian nationality law [55]
 Cameroon 5 years No Cameroonian nationality law [56][57][58]
 Canada 3 years Three years' permanent residence required. Physical presence required for at least 1,095 days in the 5 years prior to application, with any time spent as a temporary resident counted as half, up to a maximum of 365 days. Yes Canadian nationality law [59][60]
 Cape Verde 5 years Yes Cape Verdean nationality law [61][62]
 Central African Republic 35 years Must have agriculture/property investments and have received a national honour. Partial Nationality law of the Central African Republic [63]
 Chad 15 years Yes Chadian nationality law [61]
 Chile 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Chilean nationality law [64]
 China N/A Permanent residence required. No specific residency period specified in law in mainland China.
7 years minimum residence required in Hong Kong and Macau.
Must have parent or relative from China. No Chinese nationality law [65]
 Colombia 8 years Migrant visa for 3 years, followed by permanent residence for 5 years. Yes Colombian nationality law
 Comoros 10 years Yes Comorian nationality law [66]
 Congo 10 years No Republic of the Congo nationality law [67]
 Costa Rica 7 years Yes Costa Rican nationality law [68]
 Croatia 8 years Continuous residence. Partial Croatian nationality law [69][70][71]
 Cuba 5 years Yes Cuban nationality law [72]
 Cyprus 7 years Reduced time period via citizenship by investment programme. Yes Cypriot nationality law [73][74][75]
 Czechia 5 years As permanent resident. Reduced to 3 years for EU citizens. Yes Czech nationality law [76][77]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 5 years No Democratic Republic of the Congo nationality law [78]
 Denmark 9 years Continuous residence. Yes Danish nationality law [79][80]
 Djibouti 10 years No Djiboutian nationality law [81]
 Dominica 7 years Yes Dominican nationality law [82]
 Dominican Republic 2 years Partial Dominican Republic nationality law [83]
 East Timor 10 years No East Timorese nationality law [84][85]
 Ecuador 5 years Temporary residence for 2 years followed by permanent residence for 3 years. Reduced for those with Ecuadorian family members. Absences must be less than 90 days per year. Yes Ecuadorian nationality law [86]
 Egypt 10 years Partial Egyptian nationality law
 El Salvador 5 years Yes Salvadoran nationality law [87]
 Equatorial Guinea 10 years No Nationality law of Equatorial Guinea [88]
 Eritrea 20 years No Eritrean nationality law [89]
 Estonia 8 years Temporary residence for 3 years, followed by permanent residence for 5 years. Multiple citizenship tolerated for birthright citizens but not naturalised citizens. Partial Estonian nationality law [90][91][92]
 Eswatini 5 years No Emaswati nationality law [93]
 Ethiopia 4 years No Ethiopian nationality law [94]
 Fiji 5 years Lawful residence for 5 years out of the previous 10 years. Yes Fijian nationality law [95]
 Finland 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Finnish nationality law [96]
 France 5 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 2 years for applicants with a master's degree in France. Yes French nationality law [97][98][99]
 Gabon 10 years No Gabonese nationality law [100]
 Gambia 10 years Dual citizenship allowed if married to a citizen. Yes Gambian nationality law [101]
 Georgia 10 years Consecutive lawful residence. No Georgian nationality law [102]
 Germany 5 years Continuous residence, with a settlement permit. Reduced to 3 years with integration course. Reduced to 3 years in the case of special integration measures (B2 level German language knowledge and in some cities 1 year of eligible volunteering). EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can keep existing citizenship. Other nationalities require special permission to keep existing citizenship. Partial German nationality law [103]
 Ghana 5 years Yes Ghanaian nationality law [104]
 Greece 7 years Yes Greek nationality law [105][106]
 Grenada 7 years Yes Grenadian nationality law [107]
 Guatemala 10 years Partial Guatemalan nationality law [108]
 Guinea 5 years No Guinean nationality law [109]
 Guinea-Bissau 5 years No Nationality law of Guinea-Bissau [110]
 Guyana 7 years No Guyanese nationality law [111]
 Haiti 5 years No Haitian nationality law [112]
 Honduras 3 years Partial Honduran nationality law [113]
 Hungary 8 years Continuous residence. Yes Hungarian nationality law [114][115]
 Iceland 7 years Yes Icelandic nationality law [116]
 India 12 years Continuous residence during 12 months immediately before the application. Resident for 11 out of the 14 years before the 12-month period. No Indian nationality law [117][118]
 Indonesia 5 years No Indonesian nationality law [119]
 Iran 5 years Legal residence. Partial Iranian nationality law [120]
 Iraq 10 years Yes Iraqi nationality law [121][122]
 Ireland 5 years "Ordinary" residence for 5 of the preceding 9 years. Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen. Continuous residence for 12 months prior to application. Partial Irish nationality law [123][124]
 Israel 3 years Resident for 3 years in the previous 5 years. Must have permanent residence right. Jews may obtain citizenship upon arrival by the Law of Return. Partial Israeli citizenship law [125]
 Italy 10 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 2 years if married to a citizen, 3 years with citizen grandparent, 4 years for EU nationals, or 5 years for refugees or stateless people. Yes Italian nationality law [126]
 Ivory Coast 5 years Partial Ivorian nationality law [127]
 Jamaica 5 years Yes Jamaican nationality law [128]
 Japan 5 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen. No Japanese nationality law [129]
 Jordan 15 years Yes Jordanian nationality law [130]
 Kazakhstan 5 years No Kazakhstani nationality law [131]
 Kenya 7 years Yes Kenyan nationality law [132]
 Kiribati 7 years Partial I-Kiribati nationality law [133]
 Kuwait 15 years Applicable to foreign women marrying Kuwaiti citizen, but not foreign men. No Kuwaiti nationality law [134]
 Kyrgyzstan 5 years Continuous residence. Partial Kyrgyz nationality law [135][136]
 Laos 10 years No Lao nationality law [137]
 Latvia 10 years Partial Latvian nationality law [138]
 Lebanon 5 years Yes Lebanese nationality law [139]
 Lesotho 5 years Yes Basotho nationality law [140]
 Liberia 2 years Must be Black African or Black African descent[141] No Liberian nationality law [142][143]
 Libya 10 years No Libyan nationality law [144]
 Liechtenstein 10 years Years of residence under the age 20 count double. Partial Liechtenstein nationality law [145][146]
 Lithuania 10 years Continuous residence as a permanent resident. Reduced to 7 years if married to a citizen. No Lithuanian nationality law [147][148]
 Luxembourg 5 years Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen. Continuous residence for 12 months prior to application. Yes Luxembourgish nationality law [149][150]
 Madagascar 5 years No Malagasy nationality law [151]
 Malawi 7 years Reduced to 5 years if of African race or with Commonwealth or Malawian ties. Yes Malawian nationality law [152]
 Malaysia 12 years No Malaysian nationality law [153]
 Maldives 12 years Continuous residence. Must be Muslim.[154] Yes Maldivian nationality law [155]
 Mali 5 years Yes Malian nationality law [156]
 Malta 5 years Reduced requirement via citizenship by investment programme. Yes Maltese nationality law [157][158]
 Marshall Islands 7 years No Marshallese nationality law [159]
 Mauritania 5 years No Mauritanian nationality law [160]
 Mauritius 5 years Partial Mauritian nationality law [161]
 Mexico 5 years Reduced to two years for spouses of Mexican citizens. Mexican citizens by naturalization are generally not allowed to have multiple citizenship. Partial Mexican nationality law [162]
 Micronesia 5 years Must be the child or spouse of a citizen of Micronesia. No Micronesian nationality law [163]
 Moldova 10 years Reduced to 8 years for stateless persons or refugees. Yes Moldovan nationality law [164]
 Monaco 10 years Continuous residence. No Monégasque nationality law [165][166]
 Mongolia 5 years No Mongolian nationality law [167]
 Montenegro 10 years Partial Montenegrin nationality law [168][169]
 Morocco 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Moroccan nationality law [170]
 Mozambique 5 years No Mozambican nationality law [171]
 Myanmar N/A Naturalization not allowed. No Myanmar nationality law [172][better source needed]
 Namibia 5 years No Namibian nationality law [173]
 Nauru 7 years Must be the child, spouse or descendant of a Nauruan national. Yes Nauruan nationality law [174]
   Nepal 15 years No Nepali nationality law [175]
 Netherlands 5 years Continuous residence for 5 years, or continuous residence for 2 years with 10 years total residence, with a "non-temporary" residence permit required for naturalization. Reduced to three years for the spouse or partner of a Dutch citizen. Multiple citizenship allowed in limited cases, generally with special permission required. Partial Dutch nationality law [176][a][178]
 New Zealand 5 years Permanent residency required, normally after two years' residence with a temporary visa. Australian citizens are eligible for immediate permanent residence. Must be present for 1,350 days during the five years and 240 days in each of the five years.[179] Yes New Zealand nationality law [180][181]
 Nicaragua 4 years Partial Nicaraguan nationality law [182][183]
 Niger 10 years No Nigerien nationality law [184]
 Nigeria 15 years Continuous residence. Yes Nigerian nationality law [185]
 North Korea N/A No North Korean nationality law
 North Macedonia 8 years Continuous residence. Yes Nationality law of North Macedonia [186][187]
 Norway 8 years Resident in Norway for 8 years out of the previous 11 years. Absences of up to 2 months per year allowed. Yes Norwegian nationality law [188][189]
 Oman 20 years No Omani nationality law [190]
 Pakistan 5 years Partial Pakistani nationality law [191]
 Palau N/A Naturalization not allowed. No Palauan nationality law [192][193]
 Panama 5 years Continuous residence. No Panamanian nationality law [194]
 Papua New Guinea 8 years No Nationality law of Papua New Guinea [195]
 Paraguay 3 years Partial Paraguayan nationality law [196][197]
 Peru 2 years Continuous residence. Yes Peruvian nationality law [198]
 Philippines 10 years Continuous residence. The residency requirement is reduced to five years if an applicant is employed by the Government of the Philippines, has made significant economic or scientific contributions to the state, married to a Filipina woman, has taught in a Philippine school for at least two years, or was born in the country.[199] Partial Philippine nationality law [200][201]
 Poland 10 years Resident for 10 years or permanent resident for 3 years. Permanent residence requirement reduced to two years in some cases. Yes Polish nationality law [202]
 Portugal 5 years Continuous residence. Reduced to three years for spouses of Portuguese citizens. Yes Portuguese nationality law [203]
 Qatar 25 years No Qatari nationality law [204]
 Romania 8 years Yes Romanian nationality law [205][206]
 Russia 5 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen or 1 year for valued specialists and refugees. Yes Russian nationality law [207][208]
 Rwanda 10 years No Rwandan nationality law [209][210]
 Samoa 5 years Yes Samoan nationality law [211][212]
 San Marino 30 years Reduced to 15 years if married to a citizen. No San Marino nationality law [213]
 São Tomé and Príncipe 5 years No São Toméan nationality law [214]
 Saudi Arabia 10 years Partial Saudi Arabian nationality law [215]
 Senegal 5 years No Senegalese nationality law [216]
 Serbia 3 years Continuous residence. Yes Serbian nationality law [217][218]
 Seychelles 10 years Dual citizenship only for native born citizens who obtain another citizenship for work or through marriage. Partial Seychellois nationality law [219]
 Sierra Leone 5 years No Sierra Leonean nationality law [220]
 Singapore 2.5 years Foreigners can register for citizenship after two years of permanent residence.[221] A minimum of 6 months legal residence is required to be eligible for permanent residence, resulting in the citizenship pathway/eligibility of 2.5 years.[222] No Singaporean nationality law [223]
 Slovakia 8 years Partial Slovak nationality law [224]
 Slovenia 10 years Total residence of 10 years. Continuous residence for 5 years prior to application. Reduced to 3 years for spouses of citizens. Partial Slovenian nationality law [225][226]
 Solomon Islands 7 years No Solomon Islands nationality law [227]
 Somalia 7 years No Somalian nationality law [228]
 South Africa 5 years Continuous residence. Yes South African nationality law [229][230]
 South Korea 5 years Reduced to 3 years if married to a citizen. Males are required to do military service. Partial South Korean nationality law [231][232]
 South Sudan 10 years Yes South Sudanese nationality law [233]
 Spain 10 years Reduced to 2 years for natural-born nationals of Ibero-American countries, Portugal, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, and the Philippines. Partial Spanish nationality law [234][235][236][237]
 Sri Lanka 5 years Partial Sri Lankan nationality law [238]
 St. Kitts and Nevis 14 years Yes Kittitian and Nevisian nationality law [239]
 St. Lucia 7 years Partial Saint Lucian nationality law [240]
 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 7 years Yes Vincentian nationality law [241]
 Sudan 10 years Yes Sudanese nationality law [242]
 Suriname 5 years No Surinamese nationality law [243][244]
 Sweden 5 years Continuous residence. Reduced to 4 years for stateless people and refugees. Yes Swedish nationality law [245][246]
  Switzerland 10 years Must hold C permit (settled foreign national). Years of residence between age of 8 and 18 count double, with a minimum of 6 years residence. Yes Swiss nationality law [247][248]
 Syria 5 years Yes Syrian nationality law [249]
 Taiwan 5 years Partial Nationality law of the Republic of China
 Tajikistan 5 years Partial Tajik nationality law [250]
 Tanzania 5 years No Tanzanian nationality law [251]
 Thailand 5 years Continuous residence. Residence requirement waived for spouses and children of citizens. Partial Thai nationality law [252]
 Togo 5 years Yes Togolese nationality law [253]
 Tonga 5 years No Tongan nationality law [254]
 Trinidad and Tobago 7 years Yes Trinidadian and Tobagonian nationality law [255]
 Tunisia 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Tunisian nationality law [256]
 Turkey 5 years Continuous residence. Yes Turkish nationality law [257][258]
 Turkmenistan 7 years No Turkmen nationality law [259]
 Tuvalu 7 years Yes Tuvaluan nationality law [260][174]
 Uganda 20 years Dual nationality permitted. Three or more nationalities not permitted. Partial Ugandan nationality law [259][261]
 Ukraine 5 years No Ukrainian nationality law [262]
 United Arab Emirates 30 years Reduced to 7 years for citizens of Arab descent. Reduced to 3 years for citizens of Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. Multiple nationality allowed only in limited, exceptional cases since 2021. Partial Emirati nationality law [263][264]
 United Kingdom 5 years Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for 12 months before applying. Residency requirement for ILR is generally 5 years. Yes British nationality law [265]
 United States 5 years Continuous lawful permanent residence for 5 years. Reduced to 3 years for spouses of US citizens. Physical presence for at least 30 of the 60 months preceding the application. Cannot be absent for more than 6 months at a time. Yes United States nationality law [266]
 Uruguay 5 years (Legal Citizenship, not nationality) Reduced to 3 years if residing with spouse or children (Legal Citizenship, not nationality). Uruguay distinguishes between citizenship and nationality and does not offer a naturalization path for immigrants. Uruguayan nationals are persons who were born in Uruguay or are children or grandchildren of Uruguayan natural citizens. Legal citizenship has special characteristics, the persons who acquire it keep their nationality of origin. Legal citizens acquire political rights but do not acquire nationality as natural citizens do. This peculiar distinction between citizenship and nationality has caused problems with legal citizens' passports at airports around the world and restricted their freedom of movement. Yes Uruguayan nationality law [267]
 Uzbekistan 5 years No Uzbek nationality law [268]
 Vanuatu 10 years Yes Nationality law of Vanuatu [269]
 Vatican City N/A Yes Vatican City citizenship [270]
 Venezuela 10 years Reduced to 5 years for natural-born citizens of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Latin American or Caribbean countries. Yes Venezuelan nationality law [271]
 Vietnam 5 years The state only recognizes Vietnamese citizens with one nationality, unless otherwise provided. Partial Vietnamese nationality law [272]
 Yemen 5 years No Yemeni nationality law [273]
 Zambia 5 years No Zambian nationality law [274]
 Zimbabwe 5 years Yes Zimbabwean nationality law [275]

Laws by country[edit]


The Australian Citizenship Act 1973 ended the preferential treatment for British subjects from 1 December 1973.[276] People who became permanent residents from 1 July 2007 must have been lawfully resident in Australia for four years before applying for citizenship by conferral.[20] Those who were present in Australia as permanent residents before 1 July 2007 remain subject to the previous residence requirement (in force since 1984, e.g. resident for two years).

People's Republic of China[edit]

The People's Republic of China gives citizenship to people 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.[277] In practice, few people gain Chinese citizenship; as of 2010, China had only 1,448 naturalised Chinese in total.[278]

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".[279]


People who fulfil all of the following criteria can obtain French citizenship through naturalisation:[280]

  • At least 10 years' residence, although reduced to the following minimum periods in certain situations:
    • 2 years:
      • Successfully completed 2 years of studies with a view to obtaining a degree or diploma at a French higher educational institution;
      • Made an exceptional contribution to France's standing and influence in the arts, science, sport, culture, academia, entrepreneurship, etc.
    • No minimum residence period:
      • Performed military service with the French Army;
      • Served voluntarily in wartime in the French Army or an allied army;
      • Rendered exceptional service to France (requires personal ministerial approval);
      • Attained the official status of a refugee in France;
      • Citizen of a member state of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and have French as their native language or have completed at least 5 years of schooling in a French-speaking educational establishment.
  • Integration into French society, including adhering to the values and principles of the Republic, and having a sufficient knowledge of French history, culture and society;
  • Sufficient spoken command of the French language;
  • No serious criminal convictions, defined as follows:
    • Never been sentenced to more than 6 months' imprisonment (not including suspended sentences) for any crime (unless the applicant has been legally deemed rehabilitated or the sentence has been wiped from their criminal record);
    • Never been convicted of any crime that counters France's fundamental interests (unless the applicant has been legally deemed rehabilitated or the sentence has been wiped from their criminal record);
    • Never been convicted of any act of terrorism (unless the applicant has been legally deemed rehabilitated or the sentence has been wiped from their criminal record).

The fee for naturalisation is €55, except in French Guiana, where it is €27.50.


People who fulfil all of the following criteria can obtain German citizenship through naturalisation:[281]

  • At least 8 years' residence in Germany with a valid residence permit. This minimum period is reduced as follows:
    • 7 years for people who have successfully completed the Integrationskurs;
    • 3 years for spouses and registered same-sex partners of a German citizen (must have been married or in the registered partnership for at least 2 years at the time of application).
  • Declaring allegiance to the German Constitution;
  • Sufficient command of the German language;
  • No serious criminal convictions.

The dependent minor children of an applicant for naturalisation may also themselves become naturalised German citizens.

The fee for standard naturalisation is €255, while it is €51 per dependent minor child naturalised along with their parent. The fee may be waived in cases of extreme hardship or public interest.

People who naturalise as German citizens must usually give up their previous nationality, as German law takes a restrictive approach to multiple citizenship. Exceptions are made for EU and Swiss citizens (provided that the law of their country of origin does not prohibit the acquisition of another citizenship) and citizens of countries where renouncing one's citizenship is too difficult or humiliating (e.g. Afghanistan), prohibitively expensive (e.g. the United States) or legally impossible (e.g. Argentina).


The Grenadian Government grants citizenship of Grenada for the following reasons:

  • By Birth
    • Any person born in Grenada after 1974 or later acquires Grenadian citizenship at birth. The exception is for children born to diplomat parents.
  • By Descent
    • Children born outside Grenada to a Grenadian-born parent.
  • By Registration
    • Children (over 18) born outside of Grenada to a Grenadian parent.
    • Children (under 18) born outside of Grenada to a Grenadian parent.
    • A person who was born outside of Grenada who is a Grandchild of a Grenadian citizen by birth.
    • A person who is/or has been married to a citizen of Grenada.
    • Citizens of Caribbean Countries may apply for citizenship by registration provided that person has been living in Grenada for 4 years and 2 years as a Permanent Resident (within the four-year period) immediately preceding the date of application.
    • Commonwealth & Irish citizens may apply for citizenship by registration provided that the person has been living in Grenada for 7 years and 2 years as a Permanent Resident (within the seven-year period) immediately preceding the date of application.
  • By Naturalisation
  • An Alien or a British Protected Person may apply for citizenship by naturalisation provided that the person has been living in Grenada for 7 years and 2 years as a Permanent Resident (within the seven-year period) immediately preceding the date of application..


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[282] 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,[283] and Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance 2005.[284] 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.[285]

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).[citation needed]

In 2019, a Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament of India. This Act aims at fast tracking citizenship for illegal immigrants and refugees fleeing religious persecution for people of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian faiths who have entered India on or before 31 December 2014 from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.[286]


The Italian Government grants Italian citizenship for the following reasons.[287]

  • 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.


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 people under the age of 18 (limited double citizenship principle). After reaching 18 years of age individuals are forced to choose one citizenship (single citizenship principle).[288]

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'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.[289] The Israeli parliament created two laws regarding immigration, citizenship and naturalization: the Law of Return and the Israeli citizenship law.[290] 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.[290]

On July 14, 1952, the Israeli parliament enacted the Israeli Nationality Law.[290] 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.[290]

Because of Israel's relatively new and culturally mixed identity, Israel does not grant citizenship to people 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.[291]


People who fulfil all of the following criteria can obtain Luxembourg citizenship through naturalisation:[292]

  • At least 18 years old.
  • At least 5 years of legal residence in Luxembourg, including an uninterrupted period of one year immediately before applying for citizenship.
  • Passing a Luxembourgish language exam.
  • Taking a course on "Living together in the Grand Duchy" and passing the associated examination.
  • Never having been handed an immediate custodial sentence of 12 months or more or a suspended custodial sentence of 24 months or more, in any country.


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.[293] 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.[294]

The requirements are as follows:[295]

  • 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 people, 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.[296]


Commonwealth Act No. 473, the Revised Naturalization Law, approved June 17, 1939, provided that people having certain specified qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization.[200] 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 since birth, and who possess other specified qualifications may be granted Philippines citizenship by administrative proceeding subject to certain requirements.[297][298]


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 people, at least one parent of whom is a Russian citizen living on Russian territory; people, who lived on the territories of the former Soviet republics but never obtained citizenships of those nations after they gained independence; people, who were born on the territory of RSFSR and formerly held Soviet citizenship; people married to Russian citizens for at least 3 years; people, 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.[299]


People who fulfill all of the following criteria can obtain Spanish citizenship through naturalisation[300]

  • At least 10 years' residence in Spain. This period is reduced to 5 years for people who have obtained refugee status; 2 year for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or persons of Sephardic origin; 1 years for spouses, widows, widowers, people born in Spain or by a Spanish mother or father.
  • Sufficient command of the Spanish language and culture;
  • Declaring allegiance to the Spanish Constitution;
  • No serious criminal convictions.

People who naturalise as Spanish citizens must usually give up their previous nationality, as Spanish law takes a restrictive approach to multiple citizenship.

South Africa[edit]

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.[301]

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.

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 five years prior to application (prior to 2010, the permanent residence requirement was one year prior to application and for four out of the eight years prior to application).[302] 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. The Constitution of South Africa states that national legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.[303][non-primary source needed]

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.[304] 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.

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. If a permanent resident is denied naturalization, he or she must wait at least one year before reapplying.

United Kingdom[edit]

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:[305][verification needed]

  • 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.

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[edit]

Persons who are not US citizens may receive citizenship through the process of naturalization, following the Congressional requirements in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).[306][307] Naturalized citizens have the same rights as those who acquired citizenship at birth.[307]

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.[306]

A man taking the required citizenship oath of allegiance in front of US government officials in New York City (1910).
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.[308] 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.[309] 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.[310]

Following the Spanish–American War in 1898, Philippine citizens were classified as US nationals, and the 1917 Jones–Shafroth Act granted US 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 US citizenship after five years,[311] unless they continue to be married to a US citizen, in which case they can apply after only three years of permanent residency.[312]

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 US 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 US citizen, whether by birth or adoption, also automatically receives US citizenship.

Mass naturalizations[edit]

A few rare mass naturalization processes have been implemented by nation states. In 1891, Brazil granted naturalization to all aliens living in the country.[313] In 1922, Greece massively naturalized all the Greek refugees coming 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 people were forcibly naturalized as Soviet citizens.[citation needed] Later on[when?], Germany granted to the ethnic German population in Russia and Kazakhstan full citizenship rights. Poland has a limited repatriation program in place.

In the late 1970s, President Ferdinand Marcos facilitated the mass naturalization of ethnic Chinese in the Philippines.[314]

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.[315][316][317]

In occupied territories[edit]

The mass naturalization of native people 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Netherlands requires that most naturalized citizens renounce other citizenships (unless they fall under an exemption category), and will revoke Dutch citizenship on failure to accomplish this.[177]


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