Rwanda Grants Citizenship to Over 900 Foreigners

Prof Phillip Cotton, taking oath after receiving Citizenship

Since 2009, when the Rwanda Immigration Service began its mission of reviewing and accepting or rejecting foreigners applying for Rwandan citizenship, it has already granted Rwandan citizenship to about 935 foreigners.

This came after the Organic Law, amended in 2008, removed the responsibility of monitoring the issuance of citizenship to the Ministry of Justice, moving it to the Immigration Department.

Citizenship Representative Rusanganwa Damascène told Zonknews that they still have several other cases to file for citizenship.

“We currently have 159 new applications under review, and another 100 have been suspended due to various reasons including non-compliance,” he said.

The Citizenship Act has been amended at various times, only in July 2008, which marked a significant change, with some of the amendments becoming more clear.

Some of the amendments to the law include articles like the one which previously said that a child with a Rwandan father is granted Rwandan citizenship, unlike to women, the amended law states that equal rights for one Rwandan parent, whether male or female should be granted citizenship.

The law also stipulates that any foreigner who has attained the age of 18 years and who was born on Rwandan soil by a foreigner living in Rwanda, can be granted Rwandan citizenship if he or she applies.

It also adds that a child born in Rwanda to parents who are unknown or stateless or who cannot be granted citizenship by one of his or her parents is a Rwandan.

A foreigner or stateless person who is married to a Rwandan citizen may be granted Rwandan citizenship after three years from the date of his / her engagement at the time of his / her request and has continued to live with his / her spouse.

More than that, any other foreigner is also allowed to apply for Rwandan citizenship if he or she meets the requirements set out in the law. It only adds to the fact that a foreigner with interest in Rwanda, is easier to obtain citizenship.

The Government of Rwanda has now amended a draft organic law governing Rwandan citizenship, which stipulates that a foreigner may be granted Rwandan citizenship because he or she has special skills or talents, investments or extensive and sustainable activities in the country.

The bill, which consists of Article 58, has already been submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, and it will be approved to replace the Organic Law no 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 on citizenship.