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Citizenship in Return for Allegiance - A Study on the Facilitated Naturalization of Undocumented Stateless Persons in Sweden

Kyllergård, Jennifer LU (2018) LAGM01 20181
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
Following the UNHCR:s launch of the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024 in November 2014, a Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 – 2024 was adopted urging states to undertake ten actions to end statelessness, including to facilitate the naturalization of stateless migrants. While the facilitated naturalization of stateless persons would certainly reduce the occurrence of statelessness and its consequences, states remain reluctant to lower the standards of naturalization for stateless persons for various reasons.

This thesis is concerned with the problem that a considerable number of undocumented stateless persons who apply for Swedish citizenship by naturalization after four years of lawful residence in the country... (More)
Following the UNHCR:s launch of the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024 in November 2014, a Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 – 2024 was adopted urging states to undertake ten actions to end statelessness, including to facilitate the naturalization of stateless migrants. While the facilitated naturalization of stateless persons would certainly reduce the occurrence of statelessness and its consequences, states remain reluctant to lower the standards of naturalization for stateless persons for various reasons.

This thesis is concerned with the problem that a considerable number of undocumented stateless persons who apply for Swedish citizenship by naturalization after four years of lawful residence in the country have their applications rejected on the ground that they have failed to meet the identity requirement laid down in the Swedish Citizenship Act. The requirement, which asks the applicant to prove her identity by submitting a passport or other recognised national identity document, applies even in cases where the applicant has never possessed a passport or identity card nor been able to obtain one in the country of origin. Instead, the Citizenship Act provides that those who lack acceptable documentation may be exempted from the strict identity requirement at the earliest after eight years of residence, provided that the Swedish Migration Agency determines that they have made their identities credible. As a consequence, it may take eight years or more before an undocumented stateless person is able to acquire Swedish citizenship.

With this problem is mind, the purpose of this thesis is to evaluate whether the identity requirement in the Swedish Citizenship Act can be amended to facilitate the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons in light of Sweden’s international obligations on nationality, statelessness and naturalization. This further comprises a comparative study of the function of naturalization as expressed by the requirements for naturalization and the preconditions for revocation of citizenship by denaturalization in Sweden and the United States of America.

In conducting the comparative study, it is assumed that the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons could be facilitated if the function of naturalization in the Citizenship Act was reconceptualised as a contract of allegiance between the state and the naturalized citizen. By applying a contractual approach to naturalization, the response to a failure of the naturalized citizen to be loyal to the state could be to revoke the person’s citizenship. By allowing for denaturalization in cases where a naturalized citizen has been granted citizenship on the basis of a false identity, Sweden could be willing to take the risk of offering citizenship to those persons who need it the most but who are unable to meet the strict identity requirement after four years of residence. On the basis of the comparison with the function of naturalization as expressed in the law of the United States, I conclude by giving some suggestions on how the identity requirement could be amended to facilitate the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons. (Less)
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@misc{8957694,
  abstract     = {Following the UNHCR:s launch of the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024 in November 2014, a Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 – 2024 was adopted urging states to undertake ten actions to end statelessness, including to facilitate the naturalization of stateless migrants. While the facilitated naturalization of stateless persons would certainly reduce the occurrence of statelessness and its consequences, states remain reluctant to lower the standards of naturalization for stateless persons for various reasons. 

This thesis is concerned with the problem that a considerable number of undocumented stateless persons who apply for Swedish citizenship by naturalization after four years of lawful residence in the country have their applications rejected on the ground that they have failed to meet the identity requirement laid down in the Swedish Citizenship Act. The requirement, which asks the applicant to prove her identity by submitting a passport or other recognised national identity document, applies even in cases where the applicant has never possessed a passport or identity card nor been able to obtain one in the country of origin. Instead, the Citizenship Act provides that those who lack acceptable documentation may be exempted from the strict identity requirement at the earliest after eight years of residence, provided that the Swedish Migration Agency determines that they have made their identities credible. As a consequence, it may take eight years or more before an undocumented stateless person is able to acquire Swedish citizenship. 

With this problem is mind, the purpose of this thesis is to evaluate whether the identity requirement in the Swedish Citizenship Act can be amended to facilitate the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons in light of Sweden’s international obligations on nationality, statelessness and naturalization. This further comprises a comparative study of the function of naturalization as expressed by the requirements for naturalization and the preconditions for revocation of citizenship by denaturalization in Sweden and the United States of America. 

In conducting the comparative study, it is assumed that the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons could be facilitated if the function of naturalization in the Citizenship Act was reconceptualised as a contract of allegiance between the state and the naturalized citizen. By applying a contractual approach to naturalization, the response to a failure of the naturalized citizen to be loyal to the state could be to revoke the person’s citizenship. By allowing for denaturalization in cases where a naturalized citizen has been granted citizenship on the basis of a false identity, Sweden could be willing to take the risk of offering citizenship to those persons who need it the most but who are unable to meet the strict identity requirement after four years of residence. On the basis of the comparison with the function of naturalization as expressed in the law of the United States, I conclude by giving some suggestions on how the identity requirement could be amended to facilitate the naturalization of undocumented stateless persons.},
  author       = {Kyllergård, Jennifer},
  keyword      = {folkrätt,public international law,international law,komparativ rätt,comparative law,citizenship,nationality,naturalization,facilitated naturalization,acquisition,stateless,statelessness,stateless person,undocumented,undocumented stateless person,identity,identity requirement,passport,identity document,identity card,denaturalization,revocation of citizenship,revocation,deprivation,Sweden,United States of America,United States,U.S.,Swedish Citizenship Act,Immigration and Nationality Act,right to a nationality,human rights,U.S. Constitution,Bill of Rights},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Citizenship in Return for Allegiance - A Study on the Facilitated Naturalization of Undocumented Stateless Persons in Sweden},
  year         = {2018},
}