What is Citizenship by Naturalization? A quick guide

Article Breakdown

Citizenship by Naturalization is the process of a foreign national voluntarily acquiring citizenship through an application. To become a naturalized citizen, you must have lived in the nation legally for a long period and pass a citizenship test on foreign language, history, and the political system issues. Some states need proof of lawful income as well as ownership or rental housing.

A foreigner who has lived in the country legally for a long time can become a citizen. You can, for example, enter Australia on a student visa and petition for citizenship after four years.

What conditions must be met in order to become a naturalized citizen, and how to navigate the route of integration into a new society as easily as possible — learn from the experiences of other countries.

Naturalization grounds for obtaining citizenship

Long-term stay in the country. The basic need for citizenship is a domicile, which is a long-term resident in the state’s territory.
The duration of domicile is determined by the country. In Brazil, one year is sufficient for Portuguese speakers, and 30 years is sufficient for non-Portuguese speakers. The tenure in San Marino is 22 years.

Continuous residency

The typical term of compulsory residence in EU countries is 5 to 10 years. Knowledge of the official language is required for swift adaptation in a new environment, so that a foreigner can participate fully in the state’s political and economic interactions.

Exams & tests

An exam is used to assess knowledge of history and traditions. The format of the test and the list of questions differ by country. Courses to prepare for the exam are available almost everywhere.

In the UK this test is known as “Life”. It contains 24 questions. To pass, you must answer 18 questions correctly in 45 minutes. You can use the official Life in the UK handbook to prepare for the test.

Income / Sufficient earnings

You must be formally employed in Germany to be naturalized, and income from real estate rental is considered in Latvia. This prerequisite is not required in all nations. In Russia, for example, it was terminated because it was impossible to set criteria for sources of income and the requisite minimum quantity.

Taking an oath

It is not essential to travel to the country to take the oath. For example, getting Vanuatu citizenship through investment can be done in any country convenient to the investor by summoning a Consular and a Vanuatu Migration Service official. It is also necessary to travel to the Netherlands and the United States in order to swear an oath of allegiance on state territory.

Excellent character and no criminal record

A conviction for any crime, as well as a bad reputation, such as many dismissals, might influence a decision to deny citizenship.

In Georgia, for example, while applying for citizenship, you can include a favorable reference from your place of employment as well as letters from neighbors.

How to Get a Resident Visa Before Naturalization

A foreigner must have an official reason for staying in the country for an extended period of time. You cannot enter the country on a tourist visa and stay for ten years.

Before applying for citizenship, you may be required to obtain a temporary residency permit, then a permanent resident permit.

Methods for obtaining a residency permit:

Real estate purchase Under the investment program, you can buy a home in the country and obtain a resident visa. In Greece, for example, the minimum investment is €250,000.

Acceptance to the university. Foreign students are granted residence permits for the duration of their studies. After graduation, you will need to find work in the country in order to receive a new residence permit. This strategy is widely used in European countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, and Spain.

Contract of employment To get a work-based residence visa, you must first formalize a fixed-term employment contract with your company. The residency permit will be valid till the contract expires.
In Germany, university graduates are granted a residence visa for up to one and a half years to find work. If you find a job, you can apply for a permanent work visa and permanent residence in two years.

Marriage. When you marry a citizen of the country, you can obtain a residency permit or citizenship right away. In Argentina, you can apply for citizenship the very next day, however in Switzerland, you must wait three years.

Reunion of the family. If the spouse, child, or one of the parents is already a resident of the nation, a residence permit can be obtained. In Finland, a spouse from a same-sex marriage, as well as a partner, may participate in such a program if the marriage is not registered with the registry office.
Long-term medical care. In this situation, the residency permit is good for one to two years.

For exceptional abilities. There have been accomplishments in science, art, athletics, education, and business. In the United States, for example, there is a program that grants green cards to outstanding specialists.

Economical investments This is the quickest approach to obtain a residence visa in many countries. Within six months, you can obtain residency in Portugal, Spain, or Greece. In some situations, the investment can be repaid.

To receive a residence permit in Malta, you must invest in real estate worth at least €150,000. Housing can be rented for an extended period of time.

By passing the residence permit, the investor receives a permanent residency permit immediately. Permanent residence can be obtained with a stamp after 6 or 8 months, and citizenship can be attained after 5 years.

In Cyprus, a similar scheme is in place: an investor invests from €300,000 in real estate, shares of Cypriot firms, or shares of Cypriot investment funds. Cyprus, unlike Malta, is not yet a member of the Schengen area. The procedure for getting permanent residence can take up to two months.

Naturalization characteristics in various countries

Citizenship by naturalization is attainable in the majority of the EU. The ability to voluntarily obtain the citizenship of another country is included in the European Convention on Nationality on November 6th, 1997.

Article 6 of the Convention states that each state decides the criteria for citizenship autonomously, but a mandatory residence time of no more than ten years is proposed. In certain countries, the process is longer: for example, becoming an Andorran citizen takes 20 years.


Naturalization takes between 7 and 18 years to obtain Maltese citizenship. You must first obtain a Schengen visa and then a residence permit. The submission of documentation for permanent residence is the next step. After 5 years of residency, you can take the citizenship exam and petition for citizenship.


There are two types of naturalization in Switzerland. The majority of candidates use the standard one. In this scenario, the length of residence in the country is ten years.

Foreign wives and children of Swiss citizens can apply for expedited naturalization. A foreigner must be married for at least three years and reside in Switzerland for five years.


After 5 years in the nation, you can petition for Portuguese naturalized citizenship. It is necessary to spend at least 4 months every year in Portugal, without being absent from Portugal for more than 6 consecutive months. For Golden Visa applicants this is only 7 days per year, or 14 days every 2 years.

The term “naturalization” is used in the fullest sense in the United States Citizenship Act on September 11, 1957. Naturalization also involves the admission of a spouse who married a foreigner or the entrance of a kid adopted by a foreigner to a new citizenship.

The average time for naturalization in various countries

Obtaining a residence visa through investing in the EU can take up to 6 months. At the same time, you do not need to dwell in the nation to receive a residence permit.

Caribbean countries have the quickest citizenship programs for investors, with passports available in a matter of months.
You do not need to travel to the country; all documentation will be mailed to you, and the oath will be administered in a country suitable to the investor.

Obtaining a Vanuatu passport is the quickest option: the process takes about a month on average. You can engage in the program from a distance. The passport will be mailed to you, and the minimum investment is $130,000.

In addition to the investor, the second spouse, children under the age of 25, and parents above the age of 50 may apply.

With the Vanuatu passport, the investor can travel visa-free to Schengen nations, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Entrepreneurs prefer to be citizens of Caribbean countries. Dominicans do not have to pay dividend taxes. You can open a branch of your company in the United States if you have a Grenada passport.

Maltese citizenship is conferred for exceptional services rendered through direct investment beginning at €690,000 (donation) + €150,000 (bonds) + €350,000 (real estate).
There are systems in Portugal, Spain, and Greece for getting a resident visa through investment. You can apply for permanent residence or citizenship after getting a residence permit.

How to Adjust to Life in a Foreign Country

Naturalization is a sort of “compatibility test,” a measure of the sincerity with which one wishes to become a citizen of the state. A foreigner can learn the language, understand the traditions and way of life, and decide whether or not to stay in the nation in a few years.

6 fast methods to assimilate into society

Study a foreign language

Without mastering the language, it is impossible to understand another country’s culture, customs, and traditions. Locals frequently support a foreigner who attempts to communicate in their language.

Take part in public life

You can find out about local events on social media and select events that interest you. For example, children’s parties, pet displays, and jazz concerts.

Get to know your coworkers

Despite the fact that many people work remotely, co-working facilities are becoming increasingly popular as gathering locations for IT professionals. There, you can meet people with similar business interests.

Enroll in college

A degree from a foreign university provides up new job prospects.

Open a bank account

Opening a current account with a local bank enables you to make online purchases on the most attractive websites. This considerably simplifies the resolution of ordinary problems.

Purchase real estate

Real estate ownership is both a reliable investment and a compelling case for making a favorable decision on a naturalization application.

The most common methods of obtaining citizenship

After citizenship by descent, naturalization is the second most common method of getting citizenship.

Citizenship by ancestry is also called “filiation”: based on “right of blood” means that the child inherits the parents’ citizenship regardless of where they were born.

Citizenship by birth under the “law of the soil” means that the child becomes a citizen of the state in whose territory he was born, regardless of his parents’ citizenship.

Most countries’ legislation provides for a mixed system in which the prevalent law of the blood is paired with the law of the land. The right to blood is recognized in its purest form in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark. Children whose parents are unknown are subject to soil law.

When state borders shift, the process of obtaining citizenship is known as optation (from the Latin optatio, which means “option”). Citizens have the option of keeping their current citizenship or switching to a new one.

The right of optation arises in the following circumstances:

  • The formation of a new state as a result of its separation from the existing one;
  • The collapse of one state into several new ones; and
  • The transfer of part of one state’s territory under the sovereignty of another state in accordance with an international treaty.
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