Parlt approves amendments to simplify acquisition of citizenship

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Photo: Toomas Huik / Postimees

The Estonian parliament on Wednesday passed with votes 61-12 a government-initiated bill of amendments to the Citizenship Act and State Fees Act that will ease acquisition of Estonian citizenship for persons aged 65 years and over, allow minors to hold the citizenship of other countries besides Estonia, and enable stateless parents' children aged below 15 years obtain Estonian citizenship at birth.

Under currently valid law stateless parents who have lived in Estonia for at least five years can seek Estonian citizenship for their child if the child was born in Estonia. By the amended law the children of such parents will be granted citizenship at birth, without parents having to apply for it.

Stateless young people up to 15 years of age living in Estonia at the time when the law steps into effect, whose stateless parents have lived in Estonia for at least five years, will obtain citizenship from the moment the amendment steps into effect. Parents will be able to reject such naturalization on behalf of their children during one year.

The law also will allow minors to temporarily have multiple citizenship, but all who have obtained the citizenship of Estonia as well as of another country must decide by the time they turn 21 at the latest which one they will give up.

The amended law also exempts citizenship applicants who are over 65 years old from the written part of the Estonian language exam.

The bill was passed with votes of Reform Party, Social Democratic Party and Center Party deputies, with only members of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union group voting against.