Jus sanguinis

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Jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood") is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognized to any individual born to a parent who is a national or citizen of that state. It contrasts with jus soli (Latin for "right of soil").

At the end of the 19th century, the French-German debate on nationality saw Ernest Renan oppose the German conception of an "objective nationality", based on blood, race or even, as in Fichte's case, language. Renan's republican conception explains France's early adoption of jus soli. Many nations have a mixture of jus sanguinis and jus soli, including the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany (as of recently), Greece, Ireland, and others.

Apart from France, jus sanguinis still is the preferred means of passing on citizenship in many continental European countries, with benefits of maintaining culture and national identity as well as ethnic homogeneity. This has been criticised by some on the grounds that, if the only means, it can lead to generations of people living their whole lives in the state without being citizens of it - according to Agamben, thus likening their status to an Homo Sacer, deprived of any civil rights.[cn]

But notably unlike France, some European states (in their modern forms) are in fact post-empire creations within the past century. States arising out of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires had huge numbers of ethnic populations outside of new boundaries and several had long standing diasporas inamicable to 20th century European nationalism and state creation. In many cases jus sanguinis rights were mandated by international treaty -- with definitions often imposed by the international community. In other cases minorities were subject to legal and extra-legal persecution and their only sage option was immigration to their ancestral home country. States offering Jus sanguinis rights to those persons and their descendants would include Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria all of whom are obligated by international treaty to extend those rights.

Lex sanguinis

Many countries provide immigration privileges to individuals with ethnic ties to these countries (so-called leges sanguinis). As examples:

  • Armenia: Article 14 of the constitution provides that "individuals of Armenian origin shall acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia through a simplified procedure." This procedure is provided by Article 13 of the Law on Citizenship, which specifies inter alia that citizenship shall be conferred upon stateless persons of Armenian heritage who have taken residence in Armenia. In practice, Armenia has granted citizenship to ethnic Armenians who move to Armenia and renounce their former nationality.
  • Bulgaria: Article 25 of the 1991 constitution specifies that "person[s] of Bulgarian origin shall acquire Bulgarian citizenship through a facilitated procedure." Article 15 of the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship provides that an individual "of Bulgarian origin" may be naturalized without any waiting period and without having to show a source of income, knowledge of the Bulgarian language or renunciation of his former citizenship. Bulgaria and Greece were subject to a population exchange following the second Balkan war mandating that they accept populations claiming respective ethic origin.
  • A former Belgian citizen (other than a person deprived of citizenship) may resume Belgian citizenship by declaration after a 12 month period of residence. Residence abroad can be equated with residence in Belgium if the person can prove genuine ties with Belgium.

The conditions under which the person lost your Belgian nationality and the reasons for wishing to regain it will be taken into account.

Children aged under 18 automatically acquire Belgian citizenship if a responsible parent resumes Belgian citizenship. See Belgian nationality law http://www.diplomatie.be/en/services/nationalitydetail.asp?TEXTID=42527

  • China: See Chinese nationality law. The only significant immigration to China has been by the overseas Chinese, who in the years since 1949 have been offered various enticements to return to their homeland. Several million may have done so since 1949.[1]
  • Croatia: Article 11 of the Law on Croatian Citizenship allows emigrants and their descendants to acquire Croatian nationality upon return, without passing a language examination or renouncing former citizenship. In addition, Article 16 permits "a member of the Croatian people who does not have a place of residence in the Republic of Croatia [to] acquire Croatian citizenship" by making a written declaration and submitting proof of attachment to Croatian culture.
  • Finland: Finnish law provides a right of return to ethnic Finns from the former Soviet Union, including Ingrians. Applicants must now pass an examination in the Finnish language. Certain persons of Finnish descent who live outside the former Soviet Union also have the right to establish permanent residency, which would eventually entitle them to qualify for citizenship.
  • Germany: Article 116(1) of the German Basic Law (constitution) confers a right to citizenship upon any person who is admitted to Germany as "refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such a person." At one time, ethnic Germans living abroad (Aussiedler) could obtain citizenship through a virtually automatic procedure, but since 1990 the law has been steadily tightened to limit the number of immigrants who can come each year and require proof of language skills and cultural affiliation.
  • Greece: Ethnic Greeks can obtain Greek citizenship by two methods under the Code of Greek Nationality. Pursuant to Article 5, ethnic Greeks who are stateless (which, in practice, includes those who voluntarily renounce their nationality) and who "really behave as Greeks" may obtain citizenship upon application to a Greek consular official. In addition, ethnic Greeks who join the armed forces acquire automatic citizenship by operation of Article 10, with the military oath taking the place of the citizenship oath. This view arises from the fact that approximately 85% of ethnic Greeks were outside of the nation state boundaries when the country was formed, 40% remained outside of the final boundaries at the beginning of World War One with most de jure stripped of their host country citizenship, as well as Greece's traditional wider diaspora.
  • Hungary: Section 4(3) of the Act on Nationality permits ethnic Hungarians (defined as persons "at least one of whose relatives in ascendant line was a Hungarian citizen") to obtain citizenship on preferential terms after one year of residence. In addition, the "Status Law" of 2001 grants certain privileges to ethnic Hungarians living in territories that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and permits them to obtain an identification card, but does not confer the right to full Hungarian citizenship.
  • India: Persons with at least one Indian great-grandparent may apply for a Person of Indian Origin card, provided that neither the applicant nor any ancestor has ever been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or China. This card is a travel document and permits the holder to enter and stay in India without a visa, own land and attend educational institutions, but not to vote or hold office. In addition, persons of Indian origin who are nationals of certain specified countries (again subject to an exclusion for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) may apply for Overseas Indian Citizenship, which confers similar rights and also permits the holder to apply for full Indian nationality after one year of residence.
  • Ireland: The Nationality and Citizenship Act allows any person with an Irish grandparent to become an Irish citizen "by registering in the Foreign Births Register at an Irish embassy or consular office, or at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin." Such an individual may also pass his entitlement to Irish nationality on to his children by registering in the Foreign Births Register even if he chooses not to take up citizenship himself, provided he has registered with the Foreign Births Register before the birth of those children. Section 16 of the Irish citizenship law of 1986 grants the interior minister authority to confer automatic citizenship on any applicant of "Irish origin or affiliation" although this is sparingly used.
  • Israel: In addition to Israeli citizenship being granted to all ethnic groups and religions (a) by virtue of birth in Israel or (b) by naturalisation after 5 years' residency and the acquiring of a basic knowledge of Hebrew, (c) the Law of Return confers an automatic right to citizenship on any immigrant to Israel who is Jewish by birth or conversion, or who has a Jewish parent or grandparent.
  • Italy: Possibly alone in this respect, bestows citizenship jus sanguinis: There is no limit of generations for the citizenship via blood, but the Italian ancestor born in Italian territories before 1861 had to die after 1861 anywhere (in Italian territory or abroad) but without losing the Italian citizenship before death in order to being able to continue the jure sanguinis chain. This is required because 1861 is the year that the Unification of the Italian territory took place. Another constraint is that each descendant of the ancestor through whom citizenship is claimed jus sanguinis can pass on citizenship only if they were a citizen at the time of the birth of the person to whom they are passing it. So if one person in the chain renounces or otherwise loses their Italian citizenship, then has a child, that child is not an Italian citizen jus sanguinis. A further constraint is that citizenship could be passed on by women only after January 1st 1948, so those born before that date are not Italian citizens jus sanguinis if their line of descent from an Italian citizen depends on a female at some point. See Italian nationality law
  • Japan: A special visa category exists exclusively for foreign descendants of Japanese emigrates (Nikkeijin) up to the third generation, which provides for long-term residence, unrestricted by occupation, but most Nikkeijin cannot acquire Japanese citizenship without going through the naturalization process.
  • Kiribati: Articles 19 and 23 of the constitution provide that "[e]very person of I-Kiribati descent... shall... become or have and continue to have thereafter the right to become a citizen of Kiribati" and that "[e]very person of I-Kiribati decent who does not become a citizen of Kiribati on Independence Day... shall, at any time thereafter, be entitled upon making application in such manner as may be prescribed to be registered as a citizen of Kiribati."
  • Lebanon: Lebanese law currently makes no provision for reacquisition of nationality by members of the diaspora, but a pending government proposal would permit descendants of Lebanese emigrants to acquire an overseas identity card that confers rights similar to the Person of Indian Origin scheme.
  • Poland: The Statute on Polish Citizenship, as amended in 2000, permits the descendants of Poles who lost their nationality involuntarily between 1920 and 1989 to take up Polish citizenship without regard to ordinary naturalization criteria.
  • Romania: Romanian expatriates who lost their citizenship prior to December 22, 1989, as well as their children and grandchildren, may reclaim their nationality upon presentation of a declaration and supporting documents.
  • Russia: Until recently, persons holding Soviet passports could exchange them for Russian Federation nationality on a virtually automatic basis. The 2002 amendment to the Law on Russian Federation Citizenship, however, puts substantial qualifications on this right, including language and financial requirements and preferences for immigrants who have a secondary education or who join the armed forces. Former Soviet citizens may, however, still apply for Russian citizenship without a waiting period.
  • Rwanda: Article 7 of the Rwandan constitution provides that "Rwandans or their descendants who were deprived of their nationality between 1st November 1959 and 31 December 1994 by reason of acquisition of foreign nationalities automatically reacquire Rwandan nationality if they return to settle in Rwanda." In addition, "[a]ll persons originating from Rwanda and their descendants shall, upon their request, be entitled to Rwandan nationality."
  • Serbia: Article 23 of the 2004 citizenship law provides that the descendants of emigrants from Serbia, or ethnic Serbs residing abroad, may take up citizenship upon written declaration.
  • Slovakia: A person with at least one Slovak grandparent and "Slovak cultural and language awareness" may apply for an expatriate identity card entitling him to live, work, study and own land in Slovakia. Expatriate status is not full citizenship and does not entitle the holder to vote, but a holder who moves his domicile to Slovakia may obtain citizenship under preferential terms.
  • South Korea: The law of South Korea grants special status to descendants of ethnic Koreans who emigrated after 1922. As with India and Slovakia, this status falls short of full citizenship and does not confer political rights, but permits them to live, work, own property and conduct business in South Korea.
  • Spain: Citizenship on preferential terms may be obtained after two years' residence by Andorrans, Portuguese, citizens of Latin American countries, the Philippines or Equatorial Guinea, and Sephardic Jews. The time is reduced to one years' residence for grandchildren of Spanish citizens.
  • Turkey: Turkish law allows persons of Turkish origin, and their spouses and children, to apply for naturalization without the five-year waiting period applicable to other immigrants. Turkey and Greece reciprocally expelled their minorities in the early 1920's and were mandated by international treaty to accept incoming populations as citizens based on ethnic background.
  • Ukraine: Article 8 of the Law on Citizenship of Ukraine permits any person with at least one Ukrainian grandparent to become a citizen upon renunciation of his former nationality.

They also cite many other countries with similar laws, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Croatia[1]. Similarly, the Liberian constitution (currently defunct and being rewritten) allows only people "of Negro descent" (regardless of ethnic, cultural or national affiliation) to become citizens. All these peculiar citizenship laws seem to have been enacted by states wishing to guarantee a safe-haven to diaspora populations assumed to be living under precarious conditions.

See also


  1. http://countrystudies.us/china/35.htm
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