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Why Rwanda amended law on nationality

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 04 January, 2021 08:16:39AM
Why Rwanda amended law on nationality

The new law governing Rwandan nationality offers preferential treatment to people with special skills, talents and those with substantial investment that are needed in the country.

Judith Uwizeye, Minister in the Office of the President, told The News Editor the review of the law was aimed to attract investment and skilled people who want to come to Rwanda from across the world. 

She said that those grounds were not provided for in the amended organic law of 2008 governing Rwandan nationality. 

The plenary sitting of the Chamber of Deputies adopted this organic law on December 21, 2020. 

The minister said that the organic law of 2008 needed to change since there were many developments on the national and international level.

“There are people who want to invest in Rwanda and those who have special skills that we lack in the country, and to reside in the country. So, there is no reason to deny them Rwandan nationality,” she said.

The new law stipulates that the power to grant Rwandan nationality by acquisition is vested in Cabinet.

However, the power to grant Rwandan nationality by acquisition on grounds of honour is vested in the President of the Republic.

“For example, if we get a doctor who is skilled in brain surgery who wants to establish something here in Rwanda; a person specialised in electricity, methane gas, things like those which are rare and they have a meaning to the country.

Talking about special skills, she said that they are determined by a competent organ depending on the area of study based on the comparison of skills available in the country.

“For instance, if a person says they have a technology that can enable people to farm and get agricultural yields without the use of soil, that can be assessed and approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources,” Uwizeye told lawmakers while explaining the relevance of the bill.

Commenting on the size and nature of targeted investment, Uwizeye noted that “it’s just appreciation of the competent authorities, explaining that big and durable investment maybe today but no longer in five years.

“So, [it] shall depend on what is needed at the time of application,” she said.

Conditions

The law states that conditions for applying for Rwandan nationality by acquisition on special skills or talent grounds include that the applicant possesses them.

The applicant must also have a document that the relevant organ addresses to the organ in charge of Rwandan nationality, describing why their special skills or talent are needed in Rwanda and that this would justify granting Rwandan nationality by acquisition to the applicant.

For conditions for applying for Rwandan nationality by acquisition on grounds of substantial and sustainable investment or activities, they include that the applicant has substantial sustainable investment or activities in Rwanda.

They should have a letter that a relevant organ addresses to the competent authority describing the applicant’s substantial sustainable investment or activities in Rwanda that would justify granting Rwandan nationality by acquisition;

All the applicants should be a person of integrity and good conduct; and do not pose a threat to national security.

Longer period required for nationality acquisition on grounds of residing in Rwanda

The law states that conditions for applying for Rwandan nationality by acquisition on grounds of residing in Rwanda include that the applicant has legally resided in Rwanda for at least 15 consecutive years on the date of application.

This means that the new law has tripled the period for a foreigner just living in Rwanda to acquire Rwandan nationality by naturalisation, compared to at least five years that were provided for by the 2008 law.

The Minister said that increasing such time was aimed at assessing the importance that people attach to Rwanda, and whether they want to stay and serve the country.

Giving chance to immigrants who have been in Rwanda for at least 25 years

Article 18 of the law stipulates that conditions for applying for Rwandan nationality by acquisition on grounds of being an immigrant include having immigrated to Rwanda for social, economic or political reasons, or being a descendent of a person who migrated to Rwanda for such reasons.

The applicant migrant must have been continuously living in Rwanda at least for 25 years and have lost connection to his or her country of origin.

“That is the problem we wanted to solve. Actually, we were preventing the situation where there are people living in such a condition in the country who do not have any official identification document, or national identity card because they could not get as they are not Rwandans,” she said, indicating that such a situation prevented them from getting social protection support.

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