Some nineteen foreigners were granted Lao nationality last year, reflecting a decline in applications to take up citizenship in recent years, a senior parliamentary official has said.
Nationals from five countries have made up the applications over the previous years, those being Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, and Thais.
Director General of the Department of Petition and Naturalisation under the National Assembly (NA), Mr Khamsing Xaysompheng said most of the foreign immigrants granted Lao nationality were traders and businesspeople who met 11 criteria as detailed in the Law on Lao Nationality.
However the numbers of applicants has decreased in recent years compared to a decade ago. In 2009, as many as 317 foreigners were granted Lao nationality and another three of Lao origins who previously renounced their Lao nationality only to reapply to have it reinstated.
The criteria for granting Lao nationality is separated into two categories – one for applicants of foreign origin and another one for applicants of Lao origins who left Laos and renounced their Lao nationality but want to get it back.
Under the law’s Article 14, people of foreign origins who apply for Lao nationality are required to renounced their original [old] nationality and they must prove that they have resided in Laos for at least 10 consecutive years.
“Our law does not permit any Lao citizen to hold more than one nationality,” he told Vientiane Times on Tuesday.
He added that such a stipulation is also imposed on those of foreign origins who apply for Lao nationality.
Foreigners younger than 18 years are not eligible to apply for Lao nationality and the applicants must be able to speak, read and write the Lao language to a proficient level.
In addition, the applicants must prove that they are healthy without being infected with any serious communicable diseases, are not drug-addicted and must not be a convicted criminal.
According to Article 14, the applicants must have professional skills and a career with secure economic status.
Laos also extends an incentive policy for highly-educated foreign experts who apply for Lao nationality by demanding a shorter period of residence in Laos unlike ordinary foreigners who are required to stay in Laos for at least 10 consecutive years.
“Foreign experts are not required to have resided in Laos as long as ordinary applicants. Consideration will be made case by case for each application,” Mr Khamsing said referring the law.
Those foreigners marrying Lao citizens will also be given a shorter time requirement of his or her residence in Laos.
Children of foreigners who are granted Lao nationality will automatically receive Lao nationality if they are under 18 years of age. Those children that have reached 18 years of age by the time their parents are granted Lao nationality will not be counted.
“Those reaching 18 years have a legal right to decide which nationality they want to be and if they want to be Lao they are required to apply separately,” the director general said.
Those of Lao origins who once renounced their Lao nationality and were granted foreign nationality will be required to stay in Laos for five consecutive years if they want to apply for and get back their Lao nationality.
Those of Lao origins who renounced their Lao nationality but have not yet been granted foreign nationality will be required to stay in Laos for three consecutive years before they can submit an application to request Lao nationality again.
Lao nationals who left the country for more than seven years without permission will have their Lao nationality renounced. Those Lao nationals who departed Laos with permission but refused to come back within an appropriate time and lost contact with Lao authorities for more than seven years will also have their Lao nationality renounced.
The application process begins from local authorities where the application form must be submitted then onward through the relevant ministries and the government before final submission to the NA’s standing committee for approval.
Source: Vientiane Times