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Uzbekistan Simplified Procedure for Obtaining Citizenship: What Changed and How Does It Work?

In September 2020, the amendments to the Law “On Citizenship” of March 13, 2020 came into force in Uzbekistan. It gives hope to many residents of the country to receive the long-desired citizenship.

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Andijan region resident Murodjon Gapirov, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, is among them. Despite the facts that his wife is a citizen of the country, he has Uzbek origins, lives and works in Uzbekistan for many years, he could not obtain citizenship for more than 20 years.

In CABAR.asia interview, Gapirov told that after receiving a passport of a citizen of Uzbekistan, he finally acquired the right to free movement outside the country, which was previously impossible for him. Now, he and his three children are equal in rights with the rest of the Uzbeks. Gapirov hopes that the long-desired citizenship will improve their lives.

The problem of obtaining citizenship worried those people who returned to Uzbekistan after the Soviet Union collapse in the early 1990s. Until now, it was almost impossible to obtain Uzbek citizenship.

According to the Main Directorate of Migration and Citizenship Registration of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Uzbekistan, only 482 people obtained the citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan during the period from 1992 to 2016. Since the beginning of this year, 5978 people became citizens.

How many people without citizenship live in Uzbekistan?
In 1991, after the Soviet Union collapse, many ethnic Uzbeks or people of other ethnicities born in Uzbekistan returned to the republic. They all had Soviet passports. On July 2, 1992, the country adopted Law “On Citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan”, according to which they received the status of “stateless persons”. According to the Main Directorate of Migration and Citizenship Registration of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Uzbekistan, 95,857 stateless persons lived in the country in 2019. Of these, 49,228 people (50.6% of stateless persons) received a permanent residence permit in Uzbekistan before January 1995, which automatically deprived them of their citizenship, since, in accordance with the previous Law, only people who permanently resided and were registered in Uzbekistan before July 28, 1992 were considered citizens.

Why was it difficult to obtain citizenship before?
Because of the government’s policy. People repeatedly addressed various government agencies, but were denied citizenship without explanation.

For example, Bekabad resident Maksud Khasanov (not his real name), who works in the service sector, came to Uzbekistan in 1994 from neighbouring Tajikistan rent by civil war. His relatives lived in Uzbekistan. He did not want to continue living in Tajikistan, so he received a residence permit in 1996 hoping that in five years he would become a citizen of the country. However, more than 20 years have passed. His repeated addresses to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Migration Service and even to the Prosecutor’s Office remained unanswered. He received refusals without explanation. His dream came true only this year.

Did the number of people who obtained Uzbek citizenship increase after the transition of power in the country?
Yes, after Shavkat Mirziyoyev became President, the process of obtaining citizenship accelerated noticeably. From 2016 to the present, 16,298 people received Uzbek citizenship. Moreover, about a third of them did it in 2020. That is, over the past four years, 34 times more people have received passports than in the previous 24 years.

Why a new Law? What was wrong with the previous one?
The previous Citizenship Law did not clarify what should be done in case of multiple (dual) citizenship at birth. The Law did not regulate citizenship obtaining by children born outside the country, whose parents left and lived in other countries, as well as in cases when only one of the parents was known. In addition, the previous Law did not include a simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship for fellow nationals, and there was no single automated information system.

Does the new Law include it?
Yes. Article 6, for example, will allow persons who arrived and permanently registered on the territory of Uzbekistan before January 1, 1995, to become citizens of the country through a simplified procedure. It is feasible if they did not obtain the citizenship of another foreign country and lived in Uzbekistan with a residence permit before the new Law came into force.

A simplified procedure is also introduced for fellow nationals. In general, it became easier to obtain Uzbek citizenship. The new Law provides for the process of considering applications, as well as the system of admission, surrender or loss of citizenship. The children’s citizenship is determined by the parents’ citizenship change, as well as in case of adoption.

Those 49,228 people (50.6% of stateless persons) who permanently established residence in Uzbekistan after January 1995 had a great opportunity.

What is the procedure for obtaining Uzbek citizenship now?
According to the new Law, citizenship of Uzbekistan can be obtained by a person who:

a) surrendered citizenship of a foreign state;

b) resides in the territory of Uzbekistan for five years: from the date of obtaining a residence permit as a stateless person until the day of applying for citizenship;

c) has a legal source of income;

d) committed to comply with the Constitution;

e) speaks the state language for basic communication.

To obtain or restore citizenship, the following documents are required:

– application;

– passport and/or residence permit;

– marriage or divorce certificate;

– birth certificate of the child and, if any, residence permit of the child, if indicated in the application;

– document verifying the legal source of income;

– document confirming payment of the state fee (consular fee). Today, this is two minimum wages or 446 thousand Uzbek soms (about $43);

If you are applying for simplified citizenship, you will additionally need:

– birth certificate;

– passport of a lineal ancestor living in the territory of Uzbekistan and being citizen, or a petition of the interested ministry, state committee or department;

– document confirming the absence or presence of a criminal records.

The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, on an exceptional basis and following national interests, may grant citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons without applying the requirements of Articles 19 and 20 of this Law. In this case, a passport or residence permit is attached to the application for the citizenship of Uzbekistan.

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