Kuwaiti nationality law

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Kuwaiti Citizenship Act
Coat of arms of Kuwait.svg
Parliament of Kuwait
An Act relating to Kuwaiti citizenship
Enacted by Government of Kuwait
Status: Current legislation

The Kuwaiti nationality law restricts expats from easily becoming citizens of the State of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti nationality law is old and a decree was first passed in 1920, then in 1959. An Emir's decree was passed later in 1960 and from the 1970s the nationality law became restrictive. A number of amendments were made in 1980, 1982, 1994,1998, 2000. Amendments were made in 1987 but were rejected by the assembly. There were also proposals in 2006 but the parliament which proposed it dissolved.

Kuwait has more than 300 non-Muslim citizens, mostly Christians and Bahais. In 1982, the parliament amended the constitution to bar non-Muslims from naturalization. Kuwait plans to change their nationality law to allow non-Muslims to become citizens.[1][2][3][4]

The late MP Nabeel al-Fadhel submitted an inquiry to the Constitutional Court questioning the constitutionality of barring non-Muslims from obtaining the Kuwaiti nationality. The most recent proposal was made by MP Saleh Ashour who suggested to cancel item 5 of article 4 of the constitution.[5]

Original Kuwaitis

An original Kuwaiti is a person who settled in Kuwait before 1920. A person who believes that he has maintained his normal residence in Kuwait even though he is living in another country if he has intended to go back to Kuwait is also an original Kuwaiti.

By Birth

Children born to unknown or a non Kuwaiti father, parents in Kuwait are not considered to be Kuwaiti citizens by birth,

By Descent

A child born to a Kuwaiti father irrespective of the place of birth is a Kuwaiti citizen.

By Naturalization

Kuwaiti citizenship may be granted by the Minister of the Interior to, if he or she must satisfy all of the following:

  • has legally lived in Kuwait for 20 years continuously or 15 years if he or she is an Arab citizen. He or she will not be affected if she goes abroad for a business visit.
  • has legal ways of earning a living and has not been convicted of a crime.
  • knows the Arabic Language
  • is a Muslim by birth or converted to Islam 5 years prior to the declaration of naturalization. But if he or she has the intention of leaving Islam before naturalization they will not get citizenship.

Citizenship may be granted by the Minister of Interior, if he or she also must satisfy one of the following:

  • has rendered valuable services to the State of Kuwait.
  • has a Kuwaiti mother and father who is dead or divorced and lived in Kuwait till the age of maturity.
  • is an Arab and lived in Kuwait before 1945 and maintained residence till the date of declaration of naturalization.
  • is a non-Arab and lived in Kuwait since before 1930 and maintained residence till the date of declaration of naturalization.

By Marriage

Wife of a Kuwaiti man

The wife may be granted citizenship only if she declares her wish to be Kuwaiti. She may be granted citizenship only after 15 years from the date of her wish to become a Kuwaiti. The Minister of Interior has the right to reduce the number of years. The Kuwaiti husband has to be a Muslim in order to pass his citizenship to his wife.[6] A wife whose husband was naturalized as a Kuwaiti may be granted citizenship only if she declares her wish to be a Kuwaiti within one year of her husband's naturalization. The children of the naturalization are considered to be Kuwaiti. They can decide whether they want to be Kuwaiti or attain the nationality of the parent's previous citizenship. Termination of marriage will not normally lead to revoking of citizenship. The wife of a husband who takes up the nationality of another country may not lose her nationality unless she wishes to do so. The children of their father who is a naturalized citizen of another nation may not get to keep their Kuwaiti citizenship and have to attain the citizenship of the father. The children may keep their nationality if the law of that country allows it. The children can get back their Kuwaiti citizenship upon attaining the age of majority.

Husband of Kuwaiti woman

A foreign husband of Kuwaiti woman is not thereby entitled to become a citizen. Their children are not entitled to become citizens unless the father is dead, a POW or has divorced the Kuwaiti mother. Proposals has been made to allow foreign husbands and the children of Kuwaiti women to be naturalized.[7]

Participation in Parliament

In theory, he/she may not participate in Parliament of Kuwait for the next 30 years if the person is born to unknown parents, a naturalized citizen, a foreign wife of a foreigner who is granted citizenship or a foreign wife of a Kuwaiti who was granted citizenship.

Loss of Kuwaiti citizenship

He or she may lose their citizenship if they:

  • Committed a fraud and declared citizenship without satisfying the necessary criteria. In this case the citizenship of any dependent person may also be revoked.
  • are convicted of a crime related to honor or honesty within 15 years of grant of naturalization.
  • are dismissed from public office on disciplinary grounds related to honesty or honor within 10 years of grant of naturalization.
  • are or were working for a foreign state and plan on seriously to undermine the economic or social structure. The authorities must need proof that he is doing so to revoke her or his citizenship.

Denial of Kuwaiti citizenship

A person may be denied citizenship if they satisfy the following:

  • has begun work in a foreign state in their military
  • has worked for a foreign state which has been in war or has suspended diplomatic relations.
  • Is a resident in a country abroad and join an association which is plans to seriously undermine the economic or social structure or has been convicted of an offense that involves such a situation.

Any person may be restored or revoked of their citizenship if they have satisfied the above.

Restrictions and points to remember while obtaining citizenship

  • The Head of the Police Department will give a certificate stating that the person is Kuwaiti.
  • Proof may be asked while obtaining citizenship
  • After the certificate is given an investigation will be carried out. If the investigation finds that the certificate was obtained on the basis of fraud, it will be taken back.
  • No Kuwaiti passport will be given for 2 years.
  • If a person has given incorrect statements orally or written, the person may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or be fined up to 200 KD. If the person has furnished statements which are false, the person may be imprisoned for not more than seven years and/or be fined 500 KD.
  • Any passport which has been given to a person in the 2 years as told above will be invalid on the expiration of that two-year period.

Dual nationality

Kuwait does not recognize dual nationality.

Travel freedom

Visa requirements for Kuwaiti citizens

In 2016, Kuwaiti citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 82 countries and territories, ranking the Kuwaiti passport 57th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.

References

  1. ^ "Kuwaiti MP calls for rethink on citizenship rules - ArabianBusiness.com". arabianbusiness.com. Retrieved 13 Aug 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDetails/tabid/96/smid/414/ArticleID/180599/reftab/96/Default.aspx
  3. ^ "Kuwait Government Online". e.gov.kw. Retrieved 13 Aug 2015. 
  4. ^ "Kuwait". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 13 Aug 2015. 
  5. ^ "Panel to discuss modifications to conscription law: Al-Tamimi". Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 13 Aug 2015. 
  6. ^ "Kuwaiti Christians". Life in Kuwait. Crazy in Kuwait. 1 Aug 2012. Retrieved 27 Jan 2015. 
  7. ^ "Move to naturalize children of Kuwaiti windows, divorcees". Arab Times. 22 Jan 2015. Retrieved 27 Jan 2015. 
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