Countries With Birthright Citizenship 2022

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Birthright citizenship is a governmental policy under which any child born within a country's borders or territory is automatically granted citizenship in that country—even if their parents are not citizens. At present, 33 countries in the world (and two territories) have unrestricted birthright citizenship, also known as jus soli, and another 32 nations have some form of restricted birthright citizenship (see table after body text).

Every Country with Unrestricted Birthright Citizenship (jus soli):

The following countries have unrestricted birthright citizenship: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Child, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Lesotho, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Nuances of birthright citizenship

Interestingly, nearly every nation that offers birthright citizenship is located in North or South America. This is considered by many scholars to have begun in colonial times, in which European countries eager to populate their settlements in the "New World" established more lenient and immigration-friendly citizenship policies. It should also be noted that birthright citizenship often has at least one exception: The children of foreign ambassadors or other diplomats serving in a country for work are frequently excluded.

In addition to the nations listed above, various other countries may offer birthright citizenship under certain circumstances. For instance, Luxembourg, Guinea-Bissau, Azerbaijan, and Chad will sometimes grant jus soli when the child is orphaned. Chad extends jus soli, but not until the child reaches the age of 18, when they can choose whether to accept Chadian citizenship or that of their parents. Tanzania has a similar system in which a newborn child is granted jus soli until the age of 18, at which time they must choose one citizenship or the other.

Benefits of living in a country that offers birthright citizenship

One of the most significant benefits to living in a country that upholds birthright citizenship is that it grants citizenship to anyone born in that country with no other requirements. This can give the child valuable legal rights, such as protecting them from unwarranted extradition or enabling them to benefit from social programs that would not otherwise be available to them.

Benefits such as this are the reason expectant parents are sometimes compelled to move to a country that offers birthright citizenship. Depending upon their current situation, they can sometimes secure a better life for their children simply by giving birth in a different country—provided it has birthright citizenship.

Birthright citizenship also has opponents. These are typically citizens of the "host" nation who feel the policy enables foreigners to enter the country for the sole purpose of giving birth to "anchor babies", a practice which exploits the system and siphons off funds that would otherwise be used to benefit existing citizens. Such "birth tourism" is illegal in the United States, though the procedures used to deter or detect the perpetrators and enforce the laws are not always clear.

The difference between jus soli and jus sanguinis

In contrast to jus soli, nearly every other country on Earth offers jus sanguinis, which grants citizenship as long as one parent (or sometimes both parents) are citizens. Examples of this include Poland (both parents), Andorra (mother), Bahrain (father) and Iran (father). This is sometimes referred to as establishing citizenship through inheritance rather than residence.

How birthright citizenship, jus soli, and jus sanguinis work in various countries

Antigua and Barbuda

There are three ways of receiving citizenship in the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda. Birthright citizenship is one way. Any individual born in Antigua and Barbuda on or before October 31, 1981 (the date the policy went into effect) is considered a citizen by birth.

The other two ways of acquiring citizenship are descent (having a parent or grandparent who is a citizen) and naturalization (live three years with a spouse who is a citizen or live unmarried in the country for seven years). These two variations of obtaining citizenship are still valid. Still, they involve playing an active part in getting your citizenship rather than receiving it at the time of your birth.

Pakistan

In 1951, the Pakistan Citizenship Act established an all-encompassing birthright citizenship policy, declaring that anyone born in Pakistan is naturally and officially considered a citizen of the country of Pakistan—even if they were born before the Act had entered into force. The Pakistan Citizenship Act also defines two other ways of obtaining citizenship: descent or legal migration. These three ways of acquiring citizenship in Pakistan are very similar, if not identical, to other countries' citizenship processes around the world.

United States

The United States of America declared birthright citizenship for USA-born individuals in 1868, as part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was created in the wake of the Civil War. In addition to granting citizenship to all former slaves in the United States, the 14th Amendment officially established that any child born on U.S. soil (meaning any U.S. state or territory) was automatically a citizen of the United States.

Countries With Birthright Citizenship 2022

Country Type of Birthright Citizenship Details 2022 Population
IndiaRestrictedIf one parent is citizen and the other a citizen or legal migrant (as of 2020). 1,417,173,173
United StatesUnrestricted (jus soli)338,289,857
PakistanRestrictedChildren of refugees are ineligible. 235,824,862
BrazilUnrestricted (jus soli)215,313,498
MexicoUnrestricted (jus soli)127,504,125
JapanRestrictedDoes NOT allow for birthright citizenship123,951,692
EgyptRestrictedIf one parent was also born in Egypt.110,990,103
IranRestrictedIf one parent was born in Iran.88,550,570
GermanyRestrictedIf at least one parent has a permanent residence permit and has lived in Germany at least 8 years.83,369,843
ThailandRestrictedIf parents are legal residents for at least five years. 71,697,030
United KingdomRestrictedIf one parent is citizen or legally settled in the country or if child has lived in country for 10 years. 67,508,936
TanzaniaUnrestricted (jus soli)65,497,748
FranceRestrictedIf one parent is French citizen or born in France. Or upon 18th birthday if you've lived in France at least 5 years since age 11. 64,626,628
South AfricaRestrictedIf parents are citizens or permanent residents.59,893,885
ColombiaRestrictedIf one parent is citizen or legal resident.51,874,024
SpainRestrictedIf one parent was born in Spain or if parents are stateless. 47,558,630
SudanRestrictedIf father was born in Sudan.46,874,204
ArgentinaUnrestricted (jus soli)45,510,318
CanadaUnrestricted (jus soli)38,454,327
MoroccoRestrictedIf parents were born in Morocco, child can register for citizenship.37,457,971
PeruUnrestricted (jus soli)34,049,588
MalaysiaRestrictedIf one parent is a citizen or permanent resident.33,938,221
VenezuelaUnrestricted (jus soli)28,301,696
AustraliaRestrictedIf one parent is citizen or permanent resident or if child has lived in country for 10 years. 26,177,413
TaiwanRestrictedIf parents are Taiwanese citizens or if parents are stateless or unknown. 23,893,394
ChileUnrestricted (jus soli)Child can choose to opt in or out. 19,603,733
EcuadorUnrestricted (jus soli)18,001,000
GuatemalaUnrestricted (jus soli)17,843,908
ChadUnrestricted (jus soli)Unrestricted, but child chooses to opt in or out at age 18. 17,723,315
CambodiaRestrictedIf parents are living legally in Cambodia.16,767,842
TunisiaRestrictedIf father and grandfather were born in Tunisia. Child must claim citizenship before age 20.12,356,117
BoliviaUnrestricted (jus soli)12,224,110
Dominican RepublicRestrictedMildly restricted.11,228,821
CubaUnrestricted (jus soli)11,212,191
HondurasUnrestricted (jus soli)10,432,860
GreeceRestrictedIf parents live in Greece 5-10 years and child attends preschool, or if child has unknown or no other nationality at birth.10,384,971
PortugalRestrictedIf child is born with no other nationality, or child petitions for citizenship and one parent lived in Portugal for 2+ years before child's birth. 10,270,865
IsraelRestrictedChildren born in Israel who have no other citizenship can apply for Israeli citizenship between ages of 18-21. 9,038,309
Hong KongRestrictedComplicated compatibilities with mainland China. 7,488,865
NicaraguaUnrestricted (jus soli)6,948,392
ParaguayUnrestricted (jus soli)6,780,744
El SalvadorUnrestricted (jus soli)6,336,392
New ZealandRestrictedIf one parent is citizen or permanent resident or if child is stateless. 5,185,288
Costa RicaUnrestricted (jus soli)5,180,829
IrelandRestrictedIf one parent is citizen of Ireland or Britain or is legal resident three of last four years. 5,023,109
PanamaUnrestricted (jus soli)4,408,581
UruguayUnrestricted (jus soli)3,422,794
MongoliaRestrictedIf parents are valid residents or unidentified. Child must accept citizenship at age 16. 3,398,366
JamaicaUnrestricted (jus soli)2,827,377
NamibiaRestrictedIf one parent was also born in or regularly lives in Namibia.2,567,012
LesothoUnrestricted (jus soli)2,305,825
Trinidad And TobagoUnrestricted (jus soli)1,531,044
BahrainRestrictedIf father was born in Bahrain. 1,472,233
FijiUnrestricted (jus soli)929,766
GuyanaUnrestricted (jus soli)808,726
MacauRestrictedComplicated compatibilities with mainland China. 695,168
LuxembourgRestrictedIf at least one parent was born in country, or if child has lived in country 5 straight years after the age of 12. 647,599
MaltaRestrictedIf one parent is citizen or born in country. 533,286
BelizeUnrestricted (jus soli)405,272
BarbadosUnrestricted (jus soli)281,635
Saint LuciaUnrestricted (jus soli)179,857
GrenadaUnrestricted (jus soli)125,438
Saint Vincent And the GrenadinesUnrestricted (jus soli)103,948
Antigua And BarbudaUnrestricted (jus soli)93,763
DominicaUnrestricted (jus soli)72,737
TuvaluUnrestricted (jus soli)11,312

Countries With Birthright Citizenship 2022

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