Syrian nationality law

Syrian nationality law is the law governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of Syrian citizenship. Syrian citizenship is the status of being a citizen of the Republic of Syria and it can be obtained by birth or naturalization. The Syrian Nationality Law was enacted in 1969, by Legislative Decree 276.[1]

Syrian Citizenship Act
Parliament of Syria
Enacted byGovernment of Syria
Status: Current legislation
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Nationality at birth

The Syrian nationality is determined predominantly by paternity (father) (see Jus sanguinis).[2] The place of birth is irrelevant, and being born in Syria does not grant an automatic right to Syrian nationality. That is, in most cases, individuals are deemed to be Syrian nationals regardless of whether they are born inside or outside Syria as long as their father holds Syrian nationality.[3][4][5]

Birth to a Syrian mother does not automatically confer nationality.[1] If a Syrian woman marries a foreign husband, their children will have the foreign husband's nationality and have no claim to Syrian nationality, even if they were born and raised in Syria. The legal ramifications are that these persons face a number of obstacles, one of which is their inability to work in the public sector. It is also harder and more restrictive for foreigners to own real estate in Syria.

Birth in Syria does not in itself confer Syrian citizenship. Therefore, Jus soli does not apply.

Avoidance of statelessness

To avoid statelessness, persons whose paternity is unknown or undeclared may also acquire Syrian nationality if they are born in Syria in some circumstances, for example, if born to a Syrian mother but are unable to determine who their father is, or a foundling born in Syria where both parents are unknown, or the parents have an unknown nationality or who do not in fact possess a nationality (ie., are stateless); when they are born in Syria and were not at the time of their birth entitled to acquire a foreign nationality from their parents; and when they have Syrian origins but have not acquired another nationality.

However, these safeguards against statelessness at birth are not systematically implemented. Moreover, this provision only applies to children born in Syria and so clearly does not apply to the children of refugees from Syria who are born in host countries.[1]

Implications for displaced persons

Displaced persons or refugees from Syria, such as refugees of the Syrian Civil War, may have difficulty establishing their father's Syrian nationality. For example, a marriage may not have been registered, marriage documents may have been lost, or the father may be dead, lost or have moved on to third countries, or their whereabouts or identity may be unknown. A combination of these factors can mean that there is no legal or physical proof that a child’s father is Syrian. In some neighbouring countries a child cannot be registered without legal proof of the father’s identity. In all countries, when a refugee mother cannot prove that the father of her child is Syrian, discrimination in Syrian nationality laws puts her child at risk of statelessness.[1]

Naturalisation

The other way to acquire Syrian nationality is through naturalisation. Non-nationals who have resided in the country for over 5 years and fulfil a number of other requirements can apply for naturalisation. The requirements are eased for individuals from another Arab country, such as the requirement to be able to speak and read Arabic fluently.

A foreign woman who marries a Syrian man can naturalise on the basis of that marriage,[1] but a foreign husband cannot acquire Syrian citizenship on the basis of marriage to a Syrian wife.

Loss of Syrian nationality

The nationality law does not give Syrians the right to unilaterally abandon their Syrian nationality. Syrians may forfeit it if they acquire a foreign nationality, but only with the consent of the Syrian government. Furthermore, Syria reserves the right to revoke a person’s Syrian nationality under certain circumstances, such as those involving matters of national security.[6]

Dual nationality

Dual nationality is recognised by Syria.

See also

References

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