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The Concept of Dual Citizenship and the Sri Lankan 2015 Budget Provisions

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Rossana Favero-Karunaratna

Dual citizenship is the simultaneous possession of two citizenships. Due to the tension implied within this definition not all nations recognize that their citizens are entitled to possess that privilege or right. The 2015 Budget reintroduces the system which involves through a process of evaluation along with a payment of Rs. 500,000.00, amount that is quite high for many.

The key issue is for the citizen to clarify his/her allegiance. Some experts are of the opinion that naturalized citizens as a class are less reliable and bear less allegiance to the new country than do the native born. This basically is an assumption but it continues to be a matter of discussion in many forums regarding national security.

In addition, a person’s dual citizenship may hamper efforts to provide diplomatic or consular protection when the person is abroad. This may arise as majority of countries do not recognize dual citizenship. That is, their governments do not recognize a person’s prerogative to the rights, privileges, or immunities that may be the prerogatives of citizens of the other nation.

It has been clear now that if a citizen possesses dual citizenship he/she has to renounce the foreign one and regain his/her Sri Lankan citizenship if interested in participating in politics or filling a public post. This is quite fair and correct from the point of national interest. China is a country which is very strict on this matter.

The observations regarding this topic formulated by the United States Immigration Department provide important elements to analyze and categorize to further discuss the concept of Dual Citizenship as follows:

Dual Citizenship by Naturalization:

A country may allow citizens who obtain foreign citizenship to retain their original citizenship. The country from which the person is obtaining their second citizenship may not require the person to renounce their former citizenship.

Dual Citizenship by Treaty:

Some countries have agreements with certain other countries recognizing dual citizenships among their respective populations.

Dual Citizenship by Default:

A person naturalized elsewhere without the approval of the country of origin might be considered to retain his original citizenship. If the original country is not notified that another citizenship has been acquired, it is possible for both citizenships to be officially documented.

There are legal situations where Dual Citizenship is temporal in essence and must be resolved at a particular time:

1. Majority Divestiture: This option allows a person with dual citizenship, upon reaching the age of majority (i.e., age of legal adulthood), to decide which citizenship to keep. Many countries have this provision in their

constitution, charter, or in their citizenship laws. This is often used in cases of dual citizenship that arise due to adoption.

2. Generational Requirement: This consists of limiting the principle of citizenship by descent (jus sanguinis) to the first or second generations of individuals born and residing abroad.

3. Registration: In countries where non-native children must be registered at their parent’s country’s consular office shortly after birth, omitting this registration documentation can make it impossible or difficult for the child to later acquire the citizenship of either country.

4. Delayed Conferment of Citizenship: Persons, not born in the country where their parents are citizens, can be given the right to acquire their parents’ citizenship upon renunciation of any other citizenship.

5. Diplomatic Restrictions: Children of diplomatic representatives are prevented by international law from acquiring the jus solis citizenship of the country in which their parents are serving.

6. Restriction by Law: A country may forbid its citizens to become naturalized in a foreign state, except with the original nation’s permission. When permission is granted, the person loses his former citizenship.

7. Administrative Option: A country may grant conditional freedom of expatriation and automatically release from its allegiance persons who become naturalized citizens of another country.

In Sri Lanka the option of Dual Citizenship is only available for Sri Lankans; a foreign spouse, for example, will have to renounce to her/his citizenship of origin to apply for Sri Lankan citizenship. The children of a Sri Lankan mixed marriage will also have to decide their citizenship at the age of 21 if they were holding two nationalities while the process available for Sri Lankans expatriates have been subjected to certain requirements and to the decision of a committee led by the Secretary of Defense during the previous regime. The Budget has increased the fees by a huge amount which will certainly generate reactions among those who are interested to apply as a right. The Budget also made reference to foreigners being able to acquire permanent residence subjected to investment of a certain amount in the country. The question regarding foreign spouses comes again especially in relation to those who have lived a considerable amount of years in the country.

It would be interesting to get more information about the policies behind in the context of building a new era for Sri Lanka.

Courtesy;The Island

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