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Amendments to clarify the Nationality Act circulated for comments

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 1.10.2021 13.22
Press release 121/2021

On 1 October, the Ministry of the Interior sent out for comments a draft government proposal to amend the Nationality Act. The aim of the amendments is to update and clarify the Act. The intention is not to make it easier or more difficult to acquire or lose citizenship.

The proposed amendments are based on a preliminary study carried out in 2020 and the comments received on it. The aim is to improve the functioning of the provisions so that they are clearer for both the subject of the provisions and the party applying them.

Acquisition of citizenship for a child and definitions of the Act would be updated

The definitions of a child and a stateless person contained in the Nationality Act would be updated to correspond to the definitions in international treaties binding on Finland. Thus, a person under 18 years of age would always be regarded as a child, and getting married as a minor would not have an effect on this. Stateless persons would no longer be divided into voluntarily stateless and involuntarily stateless.

The acquisition of citizenship for a child would be reformed so that children born to a Finnish parent would always acquire Finnish citizenship directly by law. A child adopted by a Finnish citizen would also always acquire citizenship directly by law. Currently, the acquisition of citizenship for a child requires a declaration to the Finnish Immigration Service in some situations. The amendment would clarify the situation and also streamline the work of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Specifications to application for citizenship

The starting point for acquiring citizenship is that the applicant resides in Finland. The calculation of the required period of residence would be clarified, for example by laying down simpler provisions on permitted journeys abroad during the period of residence. All in all, the stay abroad could last as long as today. However, it would be easier for a person applying for citizenship to assess themselves when the residence period requirement is met.

The provisions on the demonstration of language proficiency would be specified so that vocational qualifications completed in Åland would also be taken into account. Authorised translators of Finnish or Swedish and registered legal interpreters would also be considered to have the necessary language skills.

In addition, more technical amendments would be made to the Act due to, for example amendments to general legislation.

From time to time, it is important to assess the functioning of legislation and its relationship with the development of general legislation and case law. This will ensure high quality and up-to-date regulation and prevent problems with interpretation.

The deadline for submitting comments is November 12th 2021. The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament during the spring session 2022.

Tiina Sinkkanen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 626, [email protected],
Hanna Pihkanen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 256, [email protected]

The email addresses will change to the format [email protected] on 5 October.