Immigration and U.S. citizenship have been hot topics in the news since the 2016 presidential election. Becoming a citizen of the United States is a lengthy process. Becoming a U.S. citizen, also called naturalization, requires that the person meets specific criteria, completes an application, attend an interview, and pass an English and civics test.
While some think that the United States is the most challenging country to gain citizenship in, other countries are just as challenging, if not more difficult.
While some countries have open immigration controls, many countries have closed borders to limit and restrict who enters the country and gains citizenship. In some countries, becoming a citizen is as easy as living there for a few years. Having an ancestor or relative who was a citizen can help determine one's eligibility in other countries. In countries where it is more difficult to become a citizen, you often need to be of a specific religion to be granted citizenship.
Vatican City is the smallest sovereign state in the world. The population is made up of about 800 residents and 450 citizens. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, you can become a citizen if you are a cardinal living in Rome or Vatican City or a diplomat of the Holy See. Those living in Vatican City who are officials or workers of the Catholic Church are eligible for citizenship.
For a foreign-born resident to become a citizen of Liechtenstein, they need to live there for at least 30 years. If you are under 20 years old, each year counts as two years, and if you are married to a citizen, the period is shortened to five years. Additionally, community residents of one's municipality can vote to become citizens after 10 years of residence. Once an individual is eligible for citizenship, the Civil Registry Office of Liechtenstein requires them to renounce another country's previous citizenship.
Qatar only naturalizes about 50 foreign-born people per year and grants permanent residency to about 100 expatriates every year. Naturalized citizens are not classified under the law the same way as Qatar's citizens.
In Qatar, if a person's father is not a citizen, then neither is that individual. A mother's nationality does not automatically qualify someone for citizenship.
Those looking to apply for citizenship must be a legal resident of Qatar for at least 25 years without leaving the country for more than two consecutive months. Those looking to become permanent residences must have lived in Qatar for at least 20 years and have proven themselves "valuable" with their skills.
According to the UAE's Federal Law, foreign-born residents can apply for citizenship after legally residing in the country for 30 years. However, if an individual is an Arab citizen from Oman, Qatar, or Bahrain, the period is three years.
In Kuwait, a foreign-born individual looking to become a citizen must live in the country for at least 20 years. The period is reduced to 15 years if the person is a citizen of another Arab country or if the wife of a Kuwaiti man is foreign-born and wanted to become a citizen. Additionally, the person must speak Arab fluently and be Muslim either by birth or conversion. Those who have converted must have been practicing for at least five years.
Foreign-born residents in Switzerland who wish to become citizens must live in the country for at least ten years and have a C permit, which allows a person to live and work in Switzerland. A C permit requires five years of continuous residence in Switzerland for E.U. nationals, people from EFTA countries, U.S. citizens, and Canadian citizens. Foreign-born individuals from any other country need to live there for at least 10 years before being eligible for citizenship.
Bhutan regulates and monitors all travel into the country very closely. It's one of the most isolated nations globally, didn't open up its borders to tourism until 1974.
The Bhutan Citizenship Act states that to be born a citizen in the country, both parents need to be Bhutanese. Those with only one Bhutanese parent must apply for naturalization citizenship after 15 years of living in the country.
Foreign-born individuals with no Bhutanese parents and who do not work for the government can apply after 20 years of living in Bhutan. Those working for the government must live in the country for 15 years. There are additional requirements to apply for naturalization, including that the person takes an oath of allegiance to the king, country, and Bhutan people. If a person is caught speaking against the king or country, citizenship can be taken away.
The Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China allows foreign-born individuals to become naturalized citizens if they have relatives who are Chinese citizens and have settled in China. Long-term residency is required but is not specified by law. Naturalization is very difficult in China, especially if the person does not have a Chinese relative that lives in China.