VietNamNet Bridge – New regulations are being drafted that will recognize the legal rights here and abroad of any Vietnamese expatriate who holds dual citizenship, though the ramifications of having to consider the laws of Vietnam and another country at the same time when dealing with a legal dispute could be daunting.
The proposed changes to the Law on Citizenship should be finished this month and posted on the internet to gauge public opinion, after which they will go before the government then the National Assembly in May.
The revamped Law on Citizenship issued in 1998 mandates single citizenship and does not take into account the citizenship laws of other countries, the director of the Department of Justice Administration at the Ministry of Justice, Mr Tran That, said in an interview with the newspaper Tuoi Tre.
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Socialist Republic of Vietnam
“However, the reality is that most Vietnamese who live abroad actually have dual nationality because the countries where they live do not require them to relinquish their Vietnamese citizenship”, Mr That said.
“If the proposed changes pass into law, any Vietnamese person who holds dual nationality may have problems if a dispute arises because Vietnam will no longer be able to deal with their case by sticking to Vietnamese law while neglecting the laws of the country where the dual-citizenship holder lives.
“For instance, if a Vietnamese person living in the United States holds both US and Vietnamese citizenship and returns to Vietnam to marry a Vietnamese citizen, what nationality should be recorded on the marriage certificate?
“By Vietnamese law, it cannot be both. So, if it says Vietnamese citizenship on the certificate, it will not be valid in the US. On the other hand, if it says US citizenship on the certificate, Vietnam will have no authority over the person.
“Therefore, the Law on Citizenship must be amended in a way that benefits all Vietnamese people and protects the rights of Vietnamese expatriates.
“Most Vietnamese people who move abroad permanently want to become citizens of their adopted countries without shedding their Vietnamese citizenship. If we don’t have proper policies, these people lose some of their rights and benefits in both countries. We must safeguard their interests and anticipate the consequences of changing the law at the same time.
“For example, a Vietnamese person living here can only hold single citizenship. If a foreigner wants to become a Vietnamese citizen, they must renounce their current citizenship. It’s the law.
“But a Vietnamese person who lives abroad and becomes a citizen of their new home does not have to give up their Vietnamese citizenship. In these cases, Vietnam should accept their dual nationality.
“We must change our way of thinking and not be so old-fashioned. We must realize that it’s perfectly normal for someone to want to change their citizenship if they move to another land to live,” Mr That said in conclusion.
One of the likely changes to the law is for Vietnamese citizens residing abroad to register periodically with the Vietnamese embassy or other government agency in their adopted land, perhaps every five years.
In that case, their Vietnamese citizenship would lapse if they failed to register within the allotted time, unless they had a legitimate reason for their tardiness.
Later, if they wanted to return to Vietnam and regain Vietnamese nationality, they would have to apply for citizenship.