KIGALI - The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration has announced that 35 foreigners have so far acquired the Rwandan nationality, and they are currently considering more applications.
In August last year, the initial batch of 20 foreigners sat the first nationality test and according to the Damascene Rusanganwa, who is in charge of nationality issues at the department, the process continues.
“So far we have 35 people who have passed the exams and are now Rwandans. 11 others did the tests last week and we are evaluating them and will soon forward them to the cabinet,” Rusanganwa said.
Another group of 17, who recently passed their tests are being sworn-in their respective areas of residence, including one Nairobi-based Senegalese man who applied through the Rwandan High Commission in Nairobi.
“He applied thorough our High Commission, sat for the exams there (Nairobi) and was successful. The Rwandan High Commissioner will most likely conduct his swearing in sometime next week,” Rusanganwa explained.
Willy Fabre, a Belgian national in the group of 17, said he was excited to be Rwandan
“I am very happy because it was a very long process – I did a difficult written exam about the history and geography of Rwanda,” said Fabre who scored 78 per cent in the test. “We had a ceremony to swear in, at Gasabo – I am happily Rwandan.”
A presidential order of May, 2009 gave the responsibility of approving foreigners interested in acquiring Rwandan citizenship to the department of Immigration and Emigration.
Amendments were also made on the nationality. Unlike in the previous law where only a child born to a Rwandan father was eligible, the revised Law, stipulates that children born to either a Rwandan father or mother qualify.
Under the new law, “majority age” or the authorized age for anyone applying for nationality is at least 18 years and, any foreigner born on Rwandan territory to alien parents may acquire nationality upon application.
A Rwandan or a descendant, who was deprived of their nationality between November 1959 and December 1994, shall upon return to Rwanda re-acquire their nationality of origin “without applying.”