Parliament is reviewing an amendment bill to the citizenship law that introduces wide ranging changes to the law adopted in 2008.
In the bill, anyone anywhere can apply for Rwandan citizenship if you have a special talent or professional skill. Government will immediately give you the papers once its determined your skill is of “interest to Rwanda”.
The law being amended required that even if you had that talent or skill, you had to have stayed in Rwanda for at least five years. It meant that businesspeople or professionals, even if they wanted citizenship, couldn’t until they were in Rwanda for this period. This has been scrapped.
The amendment bill was brought by Minister for the Presidency, Uwizeye Judith in a session on Monday this week. She told the Lower Chamber that the amendment was urgent.
Without any debate, the amendment bill was adopted by Parliament. It is now before the committee level, where it is expected to go through without any further changes.
It will then return to the House for final reading, final passage and then sent to Senate where it will also pass without a hurdle. From here, it will await presidential assent, likely to happen in weeks.
The law will remove many cumbersome hurdles for foreigners seeking to be Rwandans.
Among them is that the granting of citizenship has been removed from cabinet level, to a civil registrar’s office which is at sector level.
However, there is one key area that has been tightened. Under the existing law, foreigners could apply for Rwandan citizenship after marrying a Rwandan.
The amendment bill requires that you should have been married and living together for at least 5 years.
What this essentially does is prevent situation where a foreigner marries the Rwandan, gets citizenship and leaves him or her.