What are the Different Ways of Obtaining Citizenship?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2019
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Obtaining citizenship allows a person to enjoy the benefits of a country while swearing allegiance to its laws. There are several different ways of obtaining citizenship, and different countries may have very different laws regarding how a person may become a citizen. In order to learn about the process of obtaining citizenship for a specific country, contact government agencies that handle immigration and citizenship in the desired country.

Nearly every country grants citizenship to people born on national soil. This may include those born on military bases or other institutions that are not technically in the country but are owned by a specific nation. This type of policy is sometimes referred to as jus soli, or right of soil.

Some countries also grant immediate citizenship to the children of citizens, even if they are born in another country. This is known as jus sanguinis, or right of blood. Certain countries, such as Bulgaria, may adopt a modified version of this policy by allowing an expedited process for obtaining citizenship to children of citizens that are born elsewhere, rather than giving them citizenship outright. Some countries, such as Ireland, even extend the policy to a second generation, allowing persons with one native Irish grandparent to obtain citizenship by registering with the Irish embassy.


For those who do not qualify for jus soli or jus sanguinis, there may be other methods of obtaining citizenship. In some regions, marrying a citizen will make a person eligible for citizenship after a certain period of time. Usually, this method includes some measure of examination by immigration officials to ensure that the marriage is not for purposes of obtaining citizenship alone. Both spouses may be subject to interviews, and all shared property may be open to examination. If officials find evidence that the union is a fraud, the non-citizen spouse may be deported, while the spouse with citizenship may face legal charges for marriage fraud.

Naturalization is a common means of obtaining citizenship in many regions. People who have lived in the country for several years on legal visas may be eligible for citizenship if they can meet certain requirements. These requirements vary from country to country, but common considerations may include that the applicant has never been convicted of a crime, has been gainfully employed, can speak, read, and write the national language, and can pass a test on national laws. Those passing these requirements may then be eligible to take an oath of loyalty to their new country, thereby receiving all of the benefits and obligations of citizenship.



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