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Journal of Population Sciences

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Table 1 Current citizenship regime in the six selected countries

From: Immigrant citizenship status in Europe: the role of individual characteristics and national policies

Country Citizenship law Eligible persons
Belgium Modifications to the Belgium Nationality Code of 1 January 2003 and Act of 4 December 2012 By residence: foreign citizens if residing in Belgium at least 5 years. Sufficient knowledge of one of the three national languages should be provided. By birth: children born in Belgium of a Belgian parent and children born abroad of a Belgian parent. If both child and parent were born abroad, the parent must make a statement before the child reaches the age of 5 requesting that Belgian citizenship be granted to the child.
France French Civil Code of 1804 and Law n. 170 of 16 March 1998 By residence: foreign citizens if residing in France at least 5 years. Language skills and understanding of rights and responsibilities of a French citizen have to be demonstrated. By birth: children born in France to at least one parent who is also born in France. A child born in France to foreign parents may acquire French citizenship at 18, if residing in France at least 5 years since the age of 11.
Germany Immigration Act of 2004 and subsequent reforms By residence: foreign citizens if residing in Germany at least 8 years. Sufficient knowledge of German language should be provided. The successful attendance at an integration course reduces the required time of lawful residence for naturalisation from 8 to 7 years. By birth: children born in Germany who have either 8 years of residence before turning 21, or have attended a German school for at least 6 years. Children who have not been raised in Germany are subject to the ‘option duty’: if they do not declare an intention to keep German citizenship on reaching the age of 18, they will lose the German nationality.
Italy Law n. 91/1992 By residence: EU citizens if residing in Italy at least 4 years; stateless citizens if residing in Italy at least 5 years; non-EU citizens if residing in Italy at least 10 years. By birth: legal Italian residents until the age of 18 can apply within 1 year of turning 18.
Portugal Law n. 37/1981 and subsequent reforms By residence: foreign citizens if residing in Portugal at least 6 years. Sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and effective links to the national community are required. By birth: children of a Portuguese parent who was born on Portuguese territory or children born in a Portuguese territory of non-Portuguese parents if the latter have resided in Portugal for 5 years.
Spain Spanish Civil Code of 1978 and subsequent reforms By residence: foreign citizens if residing in Spain at least 8 years; foreign citizens coming from one of the Spanish former colonies if residing in Spain at least 2 years. By birth: children born of a Spanish parent or children born in Spain of foreign parent who was also born in Spain.
  1. Source: Own elaboration of various sources