What are the Most Common Citizenship Requirements?

Rhonda Rivera
Rhonda Rivera
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Having no criminal record, participating in a citizenship test, and staying in the new country for a certain number of years are common citizenship requirements. After one fills out citizenship forms, it is common for an authority to interview the person to ensure his or her intentions of moving to a new country are pure, and that there is no record of recent criminal activity. Next, the person may be asked to prepare for and pass a citizenship test. In addition, if granted citizenship to the new country, the person is usually required to stay in the country for several years to gain permanent citizenship. Typically, he or she is allowed to leave the country for no more than 12 months total in the three to five years one must remain in the country.

Sometimes a country will refuse citizenship to people who have committed a criminal act anywhere from three to 10 years prior to their application. For example, someone who is being charged for assault will not be given citizenship to Canada, per Canada’s citizenship requirements. A significant amount of countries enforce rules such as this, which prevent potential criminals from legally crossing borders. This essentially means that to gain permanent citizenship to a foreign country, a person must have a clean background check, or at least only have crimes that were committed long ago.

The citizenship test varies from country to country, but it typically covers the region’s history, flag colors, and other miscellaneous information that a good majority of its citizens know by heart or take pride in. Citizenship tests also tend to ask questions about government, men and women’s rights, and the responsibilities of adult citizens. To meet these citizenship requirements, the test taker must usually answer at least 75% of the questions correctly. Some countries may give additional tests, such as a test to gauge whether or not the potential citizen can read, write, and speak the primary language.

In addition to taking a citizenship test and having no recent criminal record, common citizenship requirements frequently state that the new citizen must live in the country for a specific amount of time to not lose his or her citizenship. More specifically, the country may have rules stating that a new citizen must live there for four out of five years. Normally, all of the time spent away from the country is added up and must not exceed a certain amount. For example, if the new citizen spends six months at his or her home country the first year, then visits the home country again for seven months two years later, he or she may not be considered a full citizen because more than 12 months were spent away from the new country.

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