Egyptian nationality law
The Egyptian nationality law is based on a mixture the principles of Jus sanguinis and Jus soli with some alterations. In other words, both place of birth and Egyptian parentage are relevant for determining whether a person is an Egyptian citizen. As of 2019, anyone born to an Egyptian mother or father is considered ethnically Egyptian under the law, and eligible for Egyptian citizenship upon request.
|Egyptian Citizenship Act|
|Parliament of Egypt|
|Enacted by||Government of Egypt|
|Status: Current legislation|
At the time of codification, the law's provision on ethnically mixed marriages excluded the children of Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers from being considered Egyptians or citizens, while providing an automatic right of citizenship to the children of Egyptian fathers and foreign mothers. This provision proved controversial, and was attacked by secular critics as irrational and anachronistic; it led to social and legal discrimination against the children of Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers raised in Egypt, who considered themselves Egyptian but were denied this status by society and under the law. In 2004, the law was amended, giving mothers the right to pass down their citizenship to children they had with foreign men.
Acquisition of the citizenship
The following are deemed Egyptian nationals:
- Those who have settled in Egypt since before November 5, 1914, and are not nationals of foreign countries, and have maintained their residence in Egypt until the present law comes into force.
- Those who on February 22, 1958 were enjoying the Egyptian nationality according to the provisions of law no. 391 for 1956 concerning Egyptian nationality.
- Those who have acquired the United Arab Republic nationality pursuant to the provisions of Law no. 82 for 1958 concerning UAR nationality:
- By birth, from a father or a mother who is considered Egyptian as per item 2 of the present article or by birth in the Egyptian region of the United Arab Republic, or if the UAR nationality has been granted to him on the basis of birth, or residence in the Egyptian region, or on the basis of Egyptian origin, or having rendered honorable services to the government of the Egyptian region, or because he is head of an Egyptian religious sect working in the Egyptian regions.
- Those who are considered Egyptians under nationality laws issued prior to law No. 82 for 1958, then forfeited their nationality and restored it later or it has been restored to them under Law No. 82 referred to herein before.
- A foreign woman who has acquired the nationality of the United Arab Republic, under the provisions of Law No. 82 for 1958 referred to before, either through marriage to someone regarded as Egyptian in accordance with the provisions of item 2 of the present article, or provisions of (a) and (b) of that item, or because her foreign husband has acquired the Egyptian nationality.
Birth in Egypt
Children born in Egypt are deemed Egyptian nationals:
Birth to an Egyptian parent
The following are deemed Egyptian nationals:
- Those who were born to an Egyptian parent, or have an Egyptian grandparent
- Those who were born abroad, of an Egyptian mother and an unknown father, or a stateless father, or a father whose nationality is unknown, if he chooses Egyptian nationality within one year of coming of age, provided he shall advise the Minister of Interior of his choice, after making his ordinary residence in Egypt, and the Minister of Interior does not object thereto within one year from the date of the advice is received by the Minister.
- Those who have an Egyptian origin when he applies for Egyptian nationality after 5 years of ordinary residence in Egypt, provided he has already attained full age at the time he submits the application. “Egyptian origin” means for the requirements of this law any Egyptian in whose case the absence of the residence element required in respect of him, his father or husband, or inability to establish such a residence support has forestalled recognition for him of the Egyptian nationality, if one of his ancestors or the ancestors of the husband was born in Egypt.
Wives of Egyptian citizens (but not husbands of Egyptian citizens) can apply for citizenship (with the consent of the Egyptian husband) and acquire citizenship after two years provided that the marriage is not terminated, except in case of the husband’s death.
However, the Ministry of Interior may issue a decree depriving the wife from acquiring Egyptian nationality within the two-year period, but such rejection can be disputed in court.
A person may be naturalised as an Egyptian citizen after at least 10 consecutive years of residence in Egypt.
Normally a person must be aged 21 or over in order to become a naturalized Egyptian citizen. Children aged under 21 normally obtain Egyptian citizenship automatically at the same time a responsible parent is naturalised.
All applicants must also meet the following criteria:
- be mentally sane and suffering from no disability rendering him a burden on society.
- be of a good conduct and reputation, and that no criminal penalty or penalty restricting his freedom should have been passed against him in a crime against honor, unless he has been rehabilitated.
- be acquainted with the Arabic language
A non-Egyptian who has acquired Egyptian nationality can exercise political rights after 5 years, and may be elected or appointed a member of any parliamentary body after 10 years.
However, by Presidential decree, he may be exempted from the first restriction, or both restrictions combined. The Minister of Interior may exempt, by decree, those who have joined the Egyptian Armed Forces and fought in their ranks, from the first restriction or both restrictions combined. Egyptian nationality may be granted by Presidential decree. without being bound by the restrictions set out under the law, to any foreigner who renders honorable services to Egypt, as well as to the heads of the Egyptian religious sects.
Loss of Egyptian citizenship
Loss of citizenship
An Egyptian national may voluntarily forfeit his/her citizenship by acquiring a foreign nationality except after obtaining a permission therefore, to be issued by decree of the Minister of Interior. In this case, the Egyptian shall forfeit Egyptian nationality, if he/she has been permitted to obtain the foreign nationality.
Withdrawal of citizenship
- An Egyptian nationality may, by a justified decree of the Council of Ministers, be withdrawn from those who acquired it by forged means or false statements, within 10 years from the date they acquired Egyptian nationality.
- Egyptian nationality may be withdrawn from those who obtained it by naturalization or through marriage, within 5 years following the date it is obtained, in any of the following cases:
- If a sentence was passed against them in a criminal offense, or a penalty restricting their freedom in a crime against honor.
- If a court-ruling has been passed against them in a crime against the safety of the state, either from outside or within the country.
- If they have failed to reside in Egypt for 2 consecutive years, and their absence has been without a reason acceptable by the Minister of Interior.
- If they have obtained an Israeli citizenship.
- Egyptian nationality may also be withdrawn, by decree of the Cabinet in any of the following cases:
- If they obtain a foreign nationality, in a manner other than what is set forth sub article 10.
- If they accept to join military service in a foreign country without a prior license from the Minister of War.
- If their normal residence is abroad, and a court ruling is issued condemning them in a crime harmful to state security from abroad.
- If they accept a post abroad with a foreign government or a foreign or international body and remain in that post despite the issuance of a justified reason by the Ministers Council ordering them to quit that post, should their stay in such a post constitute a threat to the supreme interests of the country, and that is if they continue in such a post more than six months from the date they are notified of the order, at their post abroad
- If their normal stay is abroad, and they join a foreign body whose purposes include working for the undermining of the social or economic order of the state, by the use of force or any other illegal means.
- If they work for a foreign state or government which is in a state of war with Egypt, or with whom diplomatic relations have been severed, and their continuation in work for such a state or government would constitute a harm to Egypt’s military, diplomatic or economic situation, or would adversely affect any other national interest.
Resumption of Egyptian citizenship
Egyptian nationality may be restituted, by a decree of the Minister of Interior, to a person from whom it has been withdrawn or who has forfeited it, after the lapse of 5 years from withdrawing or forfeiting it. Restoring Egyptian nationality may also take place by a Presidential decree. The decree withdrawing or forfeiting Egyptian nationality may also be waived by a decree of the Minister of Interior, if such a withdrawal or forfeiture decree has been based on fraud or mistake.
Egyptian nationality may also be restituted by decree of the Minister of Interior to a person having forfeited it by obtaining a foreign nationality, after granting him permission to that effect.
Under Egyptian law, acquiring another citizenship is acceptable, but requires that those who apply for another nationality inform appropriate Egyptian officials. Egyptians who have acquired a foreign citizenship may keep their Egyptian nationality if the other country permits it and if within a period not exceeding 1 year from the date he/she acquires the foreign nationality, declares his wish to retain his Egyptian citizenship. Persons who become naturalized Egyptian citizens may keep their original nationality if the other country permits it. This contrasts with some Asian countries such as India, China, and Japan, whose nationals lose the original nationality when they voluntarily assume another. Egyptian nationals with at least one parent born in Japan will have to choose, by the age of 22, whether to keep their Japanese or Egyptian nationality.
However, holders of a dual-citizenship are exempt from military service and prohibited from enrolling in military and police academies or being elected to Parliament.
As Egypt is primarily a jus sanguinis jurisdiction, the status of persons born to Egyptian parents in countries operating under jus soli rules is somewhat complex. A prime example is the child of Egyptians born in the United States, where any person born subject to its jurisdiction is automatically a citizen: assuming that both parents are Egyptian but not American citizens, the child is without question automatically an American citizen under American law and an Egyptian citizen under Egyptian law. While the position of the American government regarding the child's Egyptian citizenship is clear (the United States would recognize it without question), Egypt cannot be informed of the acquisition of American citizenship within the allotted one-year timeframe, as the citizen in question is an infant and likely unable to speak. Therefore, even if the child is registered with the Egyptian authorities and given an Egyptian birth certificate (proof of Egyptian citizenship), it is unclear whether Egypt would recognize the foreign citizenship at all in official contexts.
In 2004, the nationality law was amended to include the right of citizenship to those born to either an Egyptian father or mother, in adoption of the principle of gender equality. The amendment codifies the status of children of an Egyptian mother and a non-Egyptian father, with no regard to the nationality of the non-Egyptian father, to be similar to children of an Egyptian father and a non-Egyptian mother.. On July 16, 2018 the Egyptian House of Representatives approved a bill submitted by the government to amend citizenship laws and on August 15, 2018 President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified it. According to the new law, foreign nationals who deposit seven million Egyptian pounds, or the equivalent in other currencies, get a five-year residency after which they apply for citizenship.
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