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Maarten Peter Vink and Gerard-René de Groot

emigrant generation—will also obtain Belgian or German citizenship to avoid them otherwise being stateless (De Groot 2005: 191–5). Although these limitations amount to what may be seen as an attempt to ´de-ethnicise´ citizenship, a counter ´re-ethnicisation´ trend can be seen in countries such as France, Italy and Spain, where the reacquisition of citizenship has recently been facilitated (Joppke 2005: 240–7; cf. De Groot 2005: 213).

Let us take a closer look at some of these limiting provisions. In Belgium, citizenship is acquired by every child of a Belgian parent born in Belgium, but by a child of a Belgian parent who was born abroad only if one of three different conditions is fulfilled: a) the parent was born in Belgium or in territories under Belgian administration (Congo, Rwanda and Burundi); b) the Belgian parent registers the child as a Belgian national within five years after the child’s birth; c) the child is otherwise born stateless or loses his (other) citizenship before his eighteenth birthday or an earlier judicial declaration of majority (BEL 8(1)(2)).

In Germany, since 1 January 2000, German citizenship will no longer be acquired by descent if a child of German parent(s) is born abroad and the parent was also born abroad after 31 December 1999 and the parent has his habitual residence outside of Germany (GER 4(4)). German citizenship is nevertheless acquired if the child would otherwise be stateless. If the child does not acquire German citizenship of the parent(s) ex lege because of the ‘double’ birth abroad, a parent can register the child as a German citizen within one year after the child’s birth. This limitation on the transmission of German citizenship is completely new in German citizenship law, and it will take a considerable amount of time before this modification will have concrete results. The first children who will not acquire German citizenship because of this limitation are the children of the German children born outside of Germany in the year 2000.

British citizenship law also contains a limitation of the transmission by descent in the case of birth abroad. The relevant British provisions are quite complicated. Section 2 UK states, inter alia, that a person born outside the United Kingdom shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother (a) is a British citizen otherwise than by descent (e.g. British because of birth in the UK or British by naturalisation); or (b) is a British citizen and is outside the United Kingdom in British service, his or her recruitment for that service having taken place in the United Kingdom; or (c) is a British citizen and is outside the United Kingdom in service under a Community institution, his or her recruitment for that service having taken place in a country which at the time of the recruitment was a member of the European Community.

Section 3 UK deals with the citizenship status of – in brief – the second generation born abroad. A person born outside the United Kingdom shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British citizen made within a period of twelve months from the date of the birth, to be registered as such a citizen if the requirements specified in UK 3(3) or, in the case of a person born stateless, the requirements specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of that subsection, are fulfilled in the case of either that person’s father or his mother (‘the parent in question’). These requirements are:

  • a)

    that the parent in question was a British citizen by descent at the time of the birth;

  • b)

    that the father or mother of the parent in question

    • (i)

      was a British citizen otherwise than by descent at the time of the birth of the parent in question; or

    • (ii)

      became a British citizen otherwise than by descent at commencement of the British Nationality Act on 1 January 1983, or would have become such a citizen otherwise than by descent at commencement but for his or her death; and

  • c)

    that, as regards some period of three years ending with a date not later than the date of

the birth

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