Presidential bills on citizenship

08 December 2021
Presidential bills on citizenship
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The question of whether Ukraine should allow multiple citizenship is a controversial issue in public debates. Article 4 of the Constitution states that only single citizenship is allowed. The President, however, submitted a draft bill proposing new rights and responsibilities for persons with multiple citizenship (including Ukrainian). Are these presidential proposals consistent? We tried to answer this question in our new analytical digest.

New version of the Law on Citizenship

Draft bill #6368 of December 2, 2021

Sponsor: the President.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, and stateless persons that want to acquire Ukrainian citizenship.

Background: in his annual speech to the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Zelensky has promised to submit a draft bill on multiple citizenship in order to preserve the connection between the state and Ukrainians abroad.

Summary of the bill:

  1. There will be three scenarios defining what is required for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship:

a) an obligation to renounce foreign citizenship;
b) a declaration renouncing foreign citizenship;
c) a declaration that a person recognizes himself or herself as a Ukrainian citizen.

2. Declaration that a person recognizes himself or herself as a Ukrainian citizen will be submitted by foreigners applying for Ukrainian citizenship. This document will confirm that a person in his or her relations with Ukraine considers himself or herself a citizen of Ukraine while retaining foreign citizenship.

3. Citizens of migration risk countries (the list of such countries is approved by the Cabinet) will have to renounce their current citizenship or submit a declaration that they renounce it if they want to become Ukrainian citizens.

4. Voluntary acquisition of foreign citizenship will no more be the ground for termination of Ukrainian citizenship. Thus, the draft bill will remove legal obstacles for multiple citizenship.

5. Defines additional grounds for termination of Ukrainian citizenship:

a) if an adult Ukrainian citizen on the territory of Ukraine uses a document confirming his or her foreign citizenship with the aim to create a threat to national security or interests of Ukraine;
b) if a person has acquired Ukrainian citizenship by submitting false information or forged documents;
c) if a Ukrainian citizen has served under military enlistment contract in the armed forces of a state recognized as an aggressor state or occupant state. This provision applies only if a person was a Ukrainian citizen during the time of service.

What is wrong:

  • there is a risk that multiple citizenship will be ruled unconstitutional: the Constitution provisions that there is only single citizenship in Ukraine and the Constitutional Court has not yet provided an official interpretation of this provision;
  • permission to acquire Ukrainian citizenship without renouncing other citizenships will increase the expenses on pensions and other welfare payments that are received by all Ukrainian citizens from the government budget. However, the state will not get extra revenue if its new citizens are living abroad;
  • the bill does not prohibit having dual citizenship of both Ukraine and Russia. Instead, it uses the list of migration risk countries that can be changed by the Cabinet at any moment;
  • it is inappropriate to terminate Ukrainian citizenship of a person that uses his or her foreign passport “to create threats to national security or interests of the state.” The list of threats and the list of national interests are defined by the President in the Strategy of National Security. Unlike offenses against national security, they are political value judgments that cannot be used as a legal ground to terminate Ukrainian citizenship.

Alternative solution:

  • to withdraw the draft bill and submit an official request to the Constitutional Court to interpret the constitutional provision that there is only single citizenship in Ukraine;
  • after the official interpretation of this provision is obtained, there should be a thorough public discussion on the full legalization of multiple citizenship;
  • to prepare and submit a new draft bill. 

Mandatory disclosure of multiple citizenship

Draft bill #6369 of December 2, 2021

Sponsor: the President.

Who is affected: citizens of Ukraine that have two or more citizenships.

Summary of the bill:

  1. A person will be obliged to submit a declaration confirming whether he or she has foreign citizenship if he or she plans any of the following:
  • apply for positions in government bodies or local governments
  • apply for management positions in state-owned companies that have strategic significance for the economy or national security
  • apply for access to classified information
  • participate in elections or referendums as an electoral/referendum commission or as an official observer
  • apply for political party membership.

2. Persons with multiple citizenship will not be allowed to work in civil service, local governments, and law enforcement agencies. Also, they will not be granted access to classified information and will not be allowed to join political parties.

3. Declaration will be submitted to the State Migration Service via online cabinet or via Diia mobile app with consent for declaration verification.

4. The State Migration Service will verify declarations, the Security Service — look for persons that have not disclosed their multiple citizenship.

What is wrong:

  • it is unreal to implement the draft bill since it requires several million people to confirm or deny whether they have multiple citizenship: civil servants and local government officials, candidates for these positions, electoral commission members and observers. Performance of the State Migration Service and the SSU will suffer from the proposed additional workload
  • restrictions of political rights for citizens with multiple citizenships violates the Constitution: all citizens have equal constitutional rights and freedoms
  • restriction of political rights defies the legalization of multiple citizenship proposed by another presidential bill. Citizenship is a legal relationship to the state that gives a person the means to participate in political life — to become a member of political parties, work in civil service, run for office. That is why restrictions or deprivation of political rights can be applied exclusively to foreigners or stateless persons.