Acquirement, deprivation and recovery of Rwandan nationality

In 2008, Organic Law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality was established. Article 1 of the law says that its purpose is to “determine conditions of acquisition, retention, enjoyment and deprivation of Rwandan nationality.”

One can apply for Rwandan citizenship through naturalisation. According to article 14 of the law relating to Rwandan nationality, the applicant has to be at least 18 years old and should have stayed in Rwanda legally for at least five years. He/she has to own sustainable activities in Rwanda and he/she should have good morals and behaviour, with no criminal record whose sentence exceeds six months. 

Furthermore, the applicant has to be a patriot who respects Rwandan culture, has not previously been expelled from Rwanda, does not have the genocide ideology, and won’t be a burden to the country or its people.

If someone above the age of 18 wishes to stop being Rwandan, they are allowed to renounce their citizenship under article 18 of the law relating to Rwandan citizenship. This is done by informing the Director General. Renouncing citizenship is not expected to result in compromising Rwandan laws. Moreover, if someone is doing it in order to seek refugee status in another country or to become stateless, they will not be allowed to do it.

Article 19 of the law relating to Rwandan nationality says that in rare cases, a person can be deprived of nationality. This happens if those who are involved in nationality application provided false statements, falsified or made erroneous documents, or were involved in corruption related to the application. A person who applies for Rwandan nationality with the intention of betraying the country may also be deprived of citizenship.

However, a person’s deprivation of nationality does not transfer to their spouse or children if they acquired citizenship legally. This is according to article 21 of the law relating to Rwandan citizenship.

Those who were deprived of citizenship between November 1, 1959 and December 1, 1994 due to acquisition of foreign nationality are allowed to recover it. They do not have to apply for it. They only need to return home. However, article 22 of the law relating to Rwandan nationality says that if they do not wish to go back to Rwanda, they can still acquire citizenship following the right procedures. Their descendants also have the right to acquire Rwandan nationality.

A person wishing to recover Rwandan nationality is prohibited from doing so if he/she is a security threat or if he/she was expelled due to a decision taken for his/her own security. This is according to article 24 of the law relating to Rwandan nationality. 

Proof of nationality, article 25 of the law relating to Rwandan nationality says, is a birth certificate. 

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