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Revised nationality law lives up to overseas Vietnamese’s expectations

Hanoi (VNA) – With revised content allowing more flexible use of the provision for the recognition of only one nationality for Vietnamese citizens, the Law on Nationality of Vietnam (Revised) was passed by the National Assembly on Nov. 13.

Article 3 of the 1998 Law on Nationality, which stipulated that a Vietnamese citizen could hold only one nationality, that of Vietnamese, has been supplemented with the phrase “except for cases that are otherwise stipulated by this law.” This means the scope of those Vietnamese citizens who are allowed to have dual nationality has been extended, ensuring the unity and transparency of the law.

Article 13 of the revised law defines that Vietnamese who live abroad but, according to Vietnamese law, have not lost their Vietnamese citizenship prior to this Law coming into force, will retain their Vietnamese nationality.

According to Clause 5 of Article 23 of the new law, those who apply to regain Vietnamese nationality can retain their foreign citizenship if they have justified cause and with permission by the State President. The law also defines a number of concrete cases in which people can regain Vietnamese citizenship.

These stipulations have been supported by numerous NA deputies, individuals and organisations at home and abroad, and particularly, they fulfill the wishes of the overseas Vietnamese community. In fact, many overseas Vietnamese have returned to live in their home country and would like to regain their Vietnamese citizenship whilst still retaining their foreign nationality. Doing so would mean that they would not face difficulties in matters relating to retirement pensions and insurance in foreign countries.

In addition to articles protecting Vietnamese citizens who live abroad, the law defines that any matters arising from the fact that a Vietnamese citizen also holds a foreign passport would be resolved in accordance with international treaties that Vietnam has signed. In case there are not any related treaties, these matters will be resolved according to international customs and practice.

The law also defines detailed basis to identify people holding Vietnamese citizenship and papers required to prove the Vietnamese nationality of an individual. Vietnamese living overseas who wish to retain their Vietnamese citizenship will need to register with the Vietnamese representative missions abroad within five years of the Law coming into effect.

Other much-expected revisions to the law include the exemption and reduction of a range of compulsory conditions for gaining Vietnamese nationality.

To prevent the situation of residents without any nationality, the law states that children born in Vietnamese territories and those residing in Vietnam who do not hold any citizenship will allowed to gain Vietnamese citizenship.

Following nine years of implementation, the 1998 Law on Nationality of Vietnam no longer conforms to real-life, practical situations, for example the principle that recognises just one nationality for Vietnamese citizens. This principle led to an increasing number of violations of the nationality law, causing difficulties for the resolution of matters related to citizenship.

According to statistics, about 75 percent of more than 3 million overseas Vietnamese hold two or three nationalities. The Ministry of Justice said that the number of Vietnamese people who want to regain their Vietnamese citizenship has been on the rise over recent years. Only 51 people so far have been allowed to regain their Vietnamese citizenship.

Over the past nine years, 674 people have applied for Vietnamese citizenship.

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