Brexit in Germany: ′Citizenship is not a panacea′ for Brits | DW | 13.09.2017

People having to make choices and the instrumental nature of citizenship:

Along with financial settlement and trade, the rights of citizens are a crucial part of the divorce talksbetween the UK and EU. But progress has been slower than many had hoped. In the meantime, anxiety grows among many of the three million EU citizens in the UK and 1.2 million Brits living and working in the EU. Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to reassure the 100,000 Britons living in Germany that no one will be sent home, but with an election on the horizon, future conditions are anything but clear. Merkel’s advice? Go for German nationality, as she told one British expat: “to put yourself on a completely safe track.”

In Germany, Brits have been scrambling to get citizenship, which they seem to see as an insurance policy, not only to be able to remain in the country but also to retain the broader palette of rights they enjoy as EU citizens. Germany’s Statistics Office released figures in June revealing an “extraordinary increase” in the number of British citizens granted German passports in 2016. Overall naturalizations increased by 2.9 percent in comparison to 2015, whereas the number of Brits granted German citizenship soared by 361 percent to 2,865. While the agency does not specifically gather information on motivation to acquire citizenship, it did note that the surge was “quite obviously due to Brexit.”

For those who are well settled in Germany, applying is an administrative burden, but the requirements are not especially onerous: Those who have lived in the country for eight years (seven, if they pass a German-language integration test) — or for three years and been married to a German for two — are eligible to apply. Other requirements include proof of language proficiency, financial independence, a clean criminal record and a fee of 255 euros ($304).

Time limit for dual citizenship

Nick Wolfe, 29, a lawyer in Munich, says his recent application is “purely pushed on by Brexit” as well as the tight timeframe: “If you want to take German citizenship, you have to renounce your previous one, unless you are an EU citizen. What the relevant authorities here have been saying is that if you actually receive your German citizenship before March 2019, you’re okay. If you receive it afterwards, you will have to give up your British nationality to take up your German one.”

…And if it came to it, Wolfe would find it hard to give up his British nationality: “There’s a very emotional connection to it. So that’s why it’s obviously best if you can have both.”

Indeed, time is running out to submit a citizenship application. The city of Munich received 271 in the first six months of this year and granted 88. But each local authority handles applications separately, and requirements and processing times can vary wildly. In some places applicants wait up nine months just for an initial appointment, a further few months for an appointment to submit their application and then six to 12 months for processing, taking the amount of time to receive citizenship beyond the March 2019 deadline.

“It’s really complicated and there’s no one that gives you any real guidance on it,” Nick Wolfe said. “So you’re kind of at their mercy.”

Brits abroad as bargaining chips

Ingrid Taylor heads the Bavarian branch of the “British in Germany” campaign, which along with the broader “British in Europe” coalition represents UK citizens in the EU, and is awaiting the outcome of a citizenship application she submitted last November.

She speaks scathingly of the lack of support from the British government: “Because we are disenfranchised no one cares about us,” she says, referring to the fact that Brits lose their right to vote in Britain after 15 years of residence abroad. “They’re not going to look after our interests — because we can’t vote, there’s no gain in it for them.”

But fast-track citizenship cannot be the sole solution, according to Jane Golding, chair of the British in Europe: “Citizenship is not a panacea for all the issues. What we’ve had as EU citizens is a really complex bundle of interlinked rights: your right to free movement; to residence; to equal treatment; to work; to have your qualifications recognized; all sorts of rights about pensions and healthcare, all in one bundle. And you need all of them in order to live and work and have a life in another country.”

For Golding, it’s now crunch time: The bargaining-chip status of Brits in the EU must end, and rights must be guaranteed.

“We are a finite group of people who in good faith, and with legitimate expectations, thought that our rights were for life. What we are asking is that all of our rights, our complex bundle of rights are simply guaranteed.”

And as the withdrawal agreement is taking much longer to draw up than hoped, they are also asking for citizens’ rights to be ring-fenced for the rest of the negotiations: “Because we are people, these are people’s lives, and we have been living in limbo and uncertainty for all this time.”

Source: Brexit in Germany: ′Citizenship is not a panacea′ for Brits | Germany | DW | 13.09.2017


A Test of Australian Identity: Waleed Aly – The New York Times

The best piece I have seen to date on the Australian political “crisis” over dual citizenship and the obsolescent and overly broad nature of the prohibition:

It will be a fascinating legal test, boiling down to whether the Constitution is meant to cover cases in which people say they had no idea they were citizens of another country. On that point, the wording isn’t encouraging. The Constitution expressly prohibits anyone from Parliament who “is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.”

But legal intricacies aside, it’s the talk of “subjects” that is most telling. As it stands, Section 44 of the Constitution is beginning to look like something of a relic, a monument to the 19th century that created it, and a pointer to just how profoundly Australia has changed.

Its animating idea is one of loyalty: that Australian parliamentarians must be shorn of any “allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power.” But this was written at a time when Australian citizenship didn’t properly exist.

Australians were subjects of the British Empire, and the thought of simultaneously being subjects of another country would have been seen as a conflict. But the British Empire is no more, and since the end of World War II, this particular British outpost has become a thoroughly immigrant nation. That’s a rapid transition for a nation that had a “White Australia” policy until the early 1970s.

Today, nearly half of Australians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was. In this context, dual citizenship is part of the grammar of Australian society. That’s why even the most avowedly nationalistic parties, like One Nation, have been caught up in this mess. It doesn’t matter how exclusively Australian you say you are, chances are you’ve come from somewhere else not very long ago.

That’s more than a mere demographic change. It’s a change in the notion of Australian identity.

We could say there are two ideal (and simplified) kinds of nationhood: one anchored firmly in ethnicity and culture and another built on a civil creed. Germany is frequently cited as an example of the former (it shed its citizenship laws requiring a blood connection to the country only in 2000). America, with its civil religion of individual liberty, is the classic example of the latter. Australia’s story is of a gradual, if incomplete, transition from the European to the American model.

It began as a self-consciously derivative nation, drawing its sense of self overwhelmingly from the Empire, and became a cosmopolitan New World society. Any attempt to maintain an exclusive ethnic sense of Australianness would inevitably fall apart under those conditions. There is nationalist resistance to this, but Australian identity has now become something that exists in combination with any number of other cultural identities.

This leaves Australia in a conundrum. To exclude dual citizens from Australian politics is to exclude contemporary Australia itself, and yet this is what Australia’s Constitution demands.

In the foreseeable future, this probably means a wave of political candidates renouncing their foreign citizenship. But at no stage are anyone’s loyalties likely to be altered.

Modern Australia has multiple, simultaneous identities, whether expressed in government documents or not. We will remain a nation of people with emotional attachments to foreign lands of which we’re not citizens, and of citizenships of lands to which we feel no attachment. In this instance, it’s not our dual citizens but our Constitution that’s un-Australian. Funny, that.

Australia: Coalition warned it has ‘uphill battle’ in high court over citizenship and postal vote | The Guardian

As noted, only reasonable solution in an immigration-based country is to repeal section 44 and allow dual citizenship:

The government faces an “uphill battle” in major high court cases dealing with the same-sex marriage postal survey and the eligibility of seven parliamentarians on the current reading of the law, George Williams has warned.

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, the constitutional law expert and University of NSW professor accused the government of “a surprising constitutional adventurism” in testing the limits of its power and relying on a “creative, quite liberal and generous reading of those powers” by the court.

In October the high court will hear the cases challenging the eligibility of the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, the Nationals senator Matt Canavan, the resigned Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, and the One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts. Nick Xenophon and Fiona Nash will also be referred.

Williams said that “on the current law it is difficult to see … that any of the seven parliamentarians who will face the high court are likely to survive that challenge”.

“It is hard to see any of them have taken the reasonable steps that the high court requires to divest themselves of foreign citizenship.”

Williams suggested Labor’s Katy Gallagher could also be in difficulty, depending on the high court ruling, and likened citizenship by descent to a “Pandora’s box” that could claim up to “20 or more parliamentarians”.

Section 44 of the constitution disqualifies anyone who “is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power” from sitting in parliament.

The Turnbull government insists it has strong legal advice from the solicitor general that the better view of the law is that some element of intention or acquiescence to foreign citizenship is required.

Williams warned that view was based on William Dean’s dissent in the case of Sykes v Cleary and it was “exceedingly rare” for a later court to adopt a dissenting view.

Another possible reading – to exclude only those members who have foreign citizenship by birth – had no support in the constitution, he said.

Williams said Joyce’s and the Greens’ eligibility problems “speak less of a constitutional problem … and more of complacency and poor vetting” by political parties. He cited a simple check he had performed online to confirm a person in Joyce’s situation was a New Zealand citizen by descent.

“In this case it is hard to see why the high court would fashion an exemption when candidates have been warned of this problem and when the information is very easy to obtain through a simple check on the internet.”

Williams described Malcolm Turnbull’s confidence that the high court will find Joyce eligible as “misplaced”.

Williams said section 44 was out of date, arguing it was “hardly consistent with our sovereignty, our stability as a democracy” to allow eligibility for parliament to be determined by other countries’ laws.

Source: Coalition warned it has ‘uphill battle’ in high court over citizenship and postal vote | Australia news | The Guardian

Citizenship changes are risky, says Australian Human Rights Commission | The Guardian

Valid reservations, with clear impact on some groups:

The Australian Human Rights Commission has warned the Turnbull government to tread carefully with its citizenship changes, saying the Coalition needs to be mindful of a perception Australia is departing from a non-discriminatory immigration policy.

Members of the commission, including the new president, Rosalind Croucher, appeared before a Senate committee on Wednesday to outline concerns they had about the controversial citizenship overhaul being proposed by the immigration minister, Peter Dutton.

The race discrimination commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, told the committee Australia was a remarkable international success story when it came to the integration of immigrants, and he said if changes were contemplated to the citizenship regime, the case needed to be “compelling”.

He said there was a danger of the government sending a negative signal with onerous new requirements, including an English test requiring university-level language proficiency, which could deter people from taking out Australian citizenship.

“Care must be taken to ensure the wrong signal isn’t sent,” Soutphommasane told the committee.

The race discrimination commissioner also argued the task of managing civic integration was not one that should be confined to aspiring Australian citizens. He suggested there was also scope for improving the civic literacy of Australian-born citizens.

The Turnbull government proposal, which has been badged a national security measure, makes a number of changes to the current citizenship regime.

The legislation extends permanent residency requirements from one year to “at least four years” before someone can apply for citizenship and requires most applicants to provide evidence of “competent” English-language proficiency before they can become a citizen.

It would also give the immigration minister power to overrule decisions on citizenship applications by the administrative appeals tribunal if the minister didn’t think the decisions were in the national interest, and also give the minister power to decide whether or not the applicant had integrated into the Australian community.

A written submission from the AHRC to the Senate committee examining the legislation recommends that the government’s proposal not be passed in its current form.

It says the government proposal will make it harder for a number of vulnerable groups to become Australian citizens, including children born in Australia to asylum seeker or refugee parents, even after those children have been lawfully in Australia for up to a decade.

“These proposed sections would deny citizenship by birth to certain children born in Australia solely based on the immigration status of the child’s parents,” the submission says.

“The child may have held valid visas and been lawfully present in Australia for his or her entire life, but will be denied citizenship under the 10-year rule because his or her parents arrived in Australia without a valid visa”.

As well as raising concerns about the impact of the citizenship overhaul on children, and people with disabilities, the submission also says the harder English language test will have a “considerable” impact.

The submission notes many Australia-born citizens “would not possess a written or spoken command of English equivalent to this standard”.

It is unclear whether the government’s overhaul will pass the parliament. Labor has raised substantial objections, and the Nick Xenophon Team has also raised concerns about the impact of particular measures.

Source: Citizenship changes are risky, says Australian Human Rights Commission | Australia news | The Guardian

Australian deputy prime minister under citizenship cloud – ABC News

A more sensible approach would be to revise the law given the number of representatives from all parties that have been found in violation despite having lived in Australia for all their lives or close to it and not having meaningful connections to other countries:

Australia’s deputy prime minister on Monday became the latest lawmaker to reveal he might have breached a constitutional prohibition on dual citizens becoming lawmakers, after the New Zealand government declared he was a kiwi.

Barnaby Joyce told Parliament he would become the fifth lawmaker to be referred to the High Court since last month for scrutiny over whether he was entitled to remain in Parliament.

Joyce, who leads the conservative Nationals minor coalition party, said he had legal advice that he would be cleared by the court and would not stand down from Cabinet.

The 116-year-old section of the constitution that bans dual nationals is taking an extraordinary toll on the finely balanced Parliament elected in July last year. Before the careers of five came under a cloud since July, only two elected lawmakers were caught. Both were elected in the late 1990s and were quickly disqualified by the High Court, the first over New Zealand citizenship and the second for being British.

Critics of the constitutional rule argue it no longer suits the modern multicultural Australia in which almost half the population was born overseas or has at least one overseas-born parent.

If Joyce was disqualified, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s center-right government could lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives where parties need a majority to govern. The other four lawmakers are senators who if disqualified would be replaced by members of their own parties.

Joyce said he was notified by the New Zealand High Commission on Thursday that the New Zealand government had discovered “I may be a citizen by descent of New Zealand.”

“Needless to say, I was shocked to receive this information,” said Joyce, whose father migrated from New Zealand in 1947. Joyce was born in Australia in 1967.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said he was told last week that Joyce was a New Zealand citizen.

“Unwittingly or not, he’s (Joyce) a New Zealand citizen and then it’s a matter for the Australian system to decide how Australian law applies in his case and how they deal with the issue,” English said.

The Australian opposition demanded that the government refuse to accept Joyce’s vote in Parliament and dump him from Cabinet until the court resolved his status. But Turnbull said he was confident that Joyce was eligible to sit in Parliament.

“We did not refer this matter to the court because of any doubt about the Member for New England’s (Joyce’s) position, but because of the need, plainly in the public interest, to give the court the opportunity to clarify the operation of the section (of the constitution) so important to the operation of our Parliament,” Turnbull told Parliament.

Source: Australian deputy prime minister under citizenship cloud – ABC News

Australia – Citizenship crisis: MP Julia Banks denies being a Greek citizen amid speculation over her heritage

Given the numbers involved, appears that a review of the current policy may be warranted:

The fallout over MPs’ citizenship rights in foreign countries has widened to engulf more than 20 federal politicians, placing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s majority government under threat.

Investigations are today underway to determine whether Victorian Liberal MP Julia Banks holds Greek citizenship [later confirmed that she is not – see Banks isn’t Greek, Liberals avoid crisis).

The liberal backbencher was born in Melbourne to parents of Greek heritage.

But she said she has never taken up Greek citizenship, as speculation swirls around her heritage status.

Ms Banks is added to a list of twenty-one other members of the House of Representatives who have spoken of their migrant bloodlines – many during their maiden speeches – The Australian reported.

They include frontbenchers from both the Coalition and Labor such as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, Liberal MP Julia Banks, deputy Labor leader Tanya Pilbersek and Labor MP Steve Georganas.

The resignation from the cabinet of Nationals senator Matt Canavan, after it was revealed he had gained Italian citizenship without being born in, or visiting the country, has shown how vulnerable MPs who could be entitled to foreign citizenship are.

Now MPs such as Joyce, whose father was born in New Zealand and Ms Banks, whose father was born in Greece, face scrutiny over their family heritage.

With speculation over Ms Banks’ Greek heritage, the federal government is bracing for wider political ramifications.

The Coalition holds a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives which bans anyone who is a “citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

The High Court could be asked to determine if Ms Banks’ entitlement to Greek citizenship makes her ineligible, and to rule on whether she should have renounced any citizenship entitlements before nominating.

A disqualification of a member in the lower house would likely lead to a by-election and put a big cloud over the future of the government.

Last night, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts became the latest federal politician to become embroiled in the citizenship furore.

He said he did not receive confirmation he had renounced British citizenship until months after the federal election, but is confident of surviving any challenge to his eligibility.

Senator Roberts said he wrote to British officials on May 1 last year asking if he was a UK citizen, given he was born to a Welsh father in India.

He had no reason to believe he was British, but thought it best to double-check while filling out a nomination form for the Senate.

Five weeks later he hadn’t received a response, so wrote again on June 6 – three days before nominations closed – saying that if he had British citizenship, he fully renounced it.

“I’ve taken all steps that I reasonably believe necessary,” Senator Roberts told Sky News.

Source: Citizenship crisis: MP Julia Banks denies being a Greek citizen amid speculation over her heritage

Australia: Matt Canavan quits cabinet over Italian dual citizenship | The Guardian

Yet another dual citizen discovered in Australia. Like the other cases, the member in question wasn’t aware of his other nationality.

It is another example of the problem with C-24’s revocation provision for dual nationals convicted of terrorism (repealed under C-6), as it would have also applied to those with no knowledge of their dual citizenship or their potential to acquire:

The resources minister Matt Canavan has quit the cabinet because he is is a dual citizen of Italy.

Canavan’s resignation on Tuesday night follows the recent resignation of two Greens senators, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, because of dual citizenships – a controversy that has triggered questions about the eligibility of many other Australian parliamentarians.

Canavan told reporters on Tuesday night his mother had applied for Italian citizenship on his behalf without his knowledge or consent when he was 25 years old, in January 2007.

He said he had “no suspicion” he was in possession of a dual citizenship until last week, when his mother “raised the possibility”. The Italian embassy subsequently confirmed he was a citizen of the country.

“I was not born in Italy, I have never been to Italy and to my knoweldge I have never set foot inside the Italian consulate or embassy,” Canavan said.

“I knew my mother had become an Australian citizen, but I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen, nor did I request to become an Italian citizen”.

The attorney general, George Brandis, said preliminary legal advice to the commonwealth suggested there had been no breach of section 44 of the constitution in Canavan’s case.

Brandis told reporters given Canavan had no knowledge about his status as a dual citizen, and the “legal uncertainty” surrounding the issue, the government would refer the issue to the high court for deliberation.

Australia’s constitution bars dual citizens from eligibility for elected office, unless they can show they have taken reasonable steps to sever foreign ties.

Canavan said he was seeking advice about whether the registration of his Italian citizenship by his mother was valid under Italian law.

He said on the basis of the government’s legal advice, he would not quit politics or the parliament before the high court’s deliberations.

Source: Matt Canavan quits cabinet over Italian dual citizenship | Australia news | The Guardian

Australian senator who denied knowing about Canadian citizenship makes suspicious, Canadian-like apology – The Beaverton

A funny, satirical take – sorry for sharing:

An Australian senator who announced her resignation after discovering her dual-citizenship has made a very suspicious, Canadian-sounding apology.

Green MP claimed that she was unaware that she was still a Canadian citizen, but issued two apologies in one statement along with some very nice compliments about the constituents she has served.

“I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have,” said the Winnipeg-born Waters which raised many eyebrows among members of the press. “I apologise wholeheartedly to all those who have supported me and helped me to become a representative for the wonderful people of Queensland over the last six years.”

The politician known around the world for being the first woman to breastfeed in Australia’s Parliament has simultaneously renounced and reaffirmed her Canadian roots with the statement.

“If she actually didn’t know she was Canadian and didn’t intend to deceive anyone and violate section 44 of the constitution, she wouldn’t need to apologize,” explained Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s political analyst Louise Yaxley. “And saying you’re sorry for little or no reason is a very Canadian thing to do.”

In addition to her apologies, Waters continued to deny that she had any knowledge about her foreign identity despite being a strong supporter public health care, 52-week paternity leave, and asserting a smug superiority when compared to Americans.

At press time, Waters had already apologized for apologizing too much.

Source: Australian senator who denied knowing about Canadian citizenship makes suspicious, Canadian-like apology – The Beaverton

Dutch nationals taking UK citizenship ‘will lose Netherlands passports’| The Guardian

Will be interesting to see how this issue continues to play out during Brexit negotiations and in domestic political debates. EU divorce is messy.

Dual nationality generally reflects a more pragmatic view of citizenship, recognizing the mobility and economic benefits, but risks maintaining substantive connections:

Dutch nationals who take British citizenship to avoid having to leave the UK after Brexit will be stripped of their Netherlands passports due to existing limits on dual nationality, the Dutch prime minister has said.

About 100,000 Dutch nationals living in Britain face an uncertain future after March 2019. The UK and EU are yet to reconcile their differences on the citizens’ rights issue, with Brussels describing the British government’s initial offer as vague and inadequate.

Mark Rutte told Dutch citizens in the UK who have considered becoming British to avoid residency problems once Britain leaves the EU that applying for dual nationality was not an option.

“Countering dual nationality remains one of this cabinet’s policies,” the prime minister said on Monday, in response to a petition with 22,000 signatures calling for a government rethink.

“This is because having a nationality is always associated with an actual link to a certain country. If at some point there is a question of a connection to the Netherlands or if the link to another country has become stronger than that with the Netherlands, Dutch nationality will end.”

Rutte made his intervention after the launch of an information campaign to advise citizens that they would be required to renounce their original nationality should they seek to become British.

The Dutch government has told its citizens that if they “have more than one nationality, it is not always clear what your rights are”.

The Dutch security and justice ministry website says: “For instance, your country of origin may require you to do compulsory military service. The Dutch government wants to limit dual nationality as much as possible.

“If you have only one nationality, it will be clear what your rights are. That is why people who want to acquire Dutch nationality through naturalisation are, as a rule, required to give up their other nationality if possible. This is called the renunciation requirement.”

Negotiating teams led by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, are meeting in Brussels this week to try to come to an agreement on the rights of citizens, along with issues relating to the UK’s divorce bill and the Irish border.

Source: Dutch nationals taking UK citizenship ‘will lose Netherlands passports’ | World news | The Guardian

Australian senator steps down because of dual Canadian citizenship

While a rule against dual citizenship for elected officials can be justified, this case highlights the absurdity of its formal application given that she left Canada when she was less than a year old and was caught by a Canadian rule change.

She does, of course, have the option of renouncing her Canadian citizenship but the process takes some time (don’t know how long but, if the example of Texas senator Ted Cruz is any indication, more than a few months).

Surprising, however, that she did not indicate her intent to renounce:

An Australian senator has been forced to step down because she is a dual citizen of Australia and Canada.

The Australian constitution disqualifies potential candidates from seeking election if they hold dual or plural citizenship.

Larissa Waters, who was also the deputy leader of the Green party, told a news conference Monday that was only found out about her status on Monday with “great shock and sadness.”

Waters was born to Australian parents in 1977 while they were studying and working in Winnipeg.

She left Canada as an 11-month-old baby and said she always believed she was just Australian.

Water said she also didn’t know she had to renounce the Canadian citizenship that was bestowed upon her at birth.

“I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007,” said Waters in a statement.

“I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight. I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have.”

Waters said she only discovered her status on Monday after seeking legal advice in the wake of fellow Green party member Scott Ludlam having to step down because he holds dual citizenship with New Zealand.

Waters said she was “devastated” to learn she was a Canadian citizen and has resigned from office “with a heavy heart.”

“I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalized to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship,” said Waters.

“At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old.”

Waters made international headlines earlier this year when she became the first woman to breastfeed her daughter, Alia, on the floor of the Australian Parliament.

Australian media reports say Waters was seen by some as a future leader of the Green party.

Source: Australian senator steps down because of dual Canadian citizenship – The Globe and Mail