Crackdown on fraudulent citizenship requests
22 May 2006, BRUSSELS — The federal government is sharpening its naturalisation laws to combat fraudulent citizenship applications, but has also opted to lift the ban on dual nationality.
22 May 2006
BRUSSELS — The federal government is sharpening its naturalisation laws to combat fraudulent citizenship applications, but has also opted to lift the ban on dual nationality.
The Belgian government approved accelerated naturalisation procedures in 2000, but the new law came under heavy criticism.
Flemish opposition parties the extreme-right Flemish Interest and the Christian Democrat CD&V said there was too much room for abuse.
Government parties the Liberal VLD and the Socialist SP.A soon joined the outcry and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx was instructed to amend the law.
The proposed adjustments were presented to and approved by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting last Friday.
The new procedures mean that those who gain the Belgian nationality via a fraudulent application can lose their citizenship. Previously, only terrorists could lose their Belgian passport.
The government will also extend the timeframe in which a naturalisation request must be investigated from two to four months.
The extension comes on request from the public prosecution service, security service VS-SE and the immigration service DVZ-OE.
But the government will also lift the ban on dual nationality.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said there is a greater stimulus for an immigrant to integrate into Belgian society if they don't have to give up their original nationality when becoming a Belgian citizen.
Finally, the naturalisation legislation will also be amended so that illegal residency in Belgium cannot be used as one of the pre-conditions for gaining Belgian nationality.
That pre-condition states that immigrants must have lived in Belgium for five years to come into consideration for citizenship.
The legislative proposals will now be sent to the Council of State for advice.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news