The Upper House agrees to the possibility of latent Dutch citizens acquiring Dutch citizenship

The Upper House today agreed to a proposal from Minister Hirsch Ballin to amend the Netherlands Nationality Act, which provides for a regulation, inter alia, for so-called latent Dutch citizens. Children born of a Dutch mother before 1985, but who did not acquire Dutch citizenship via the mother, can as yet acquire Dutch citizenship with this regulation. There will also be a further restriction of multiple nationalities in situations in which the original nationality no longer plays any role in daily life. The proposal furthermore provides the opportunity to withdraw Dutch citizenship following conviction in respect of an offence, whereby the essential interests of the Kingdom have been seriously harmed. Command of the Dutch language will be a condition for acquiring Dutch citizenship irrespective of the current place of residence - therefore including the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

The issue of latent Dutch citizens concerns a group that was born of a Dutch mother before 1985, but which does not hold Dutch nationality, because, at the time, Dutch citizenship could only be passed on via the father. Persons also acquire Dutch citizenship, as of 1985, if born of a Dutch mother and a foreign father. Despite the fact that there was a transitional scheme in place for this group at the time, not everyone made use of it. The new act regulates that those who are born before 1985 of a Dutch mother can as yet opt for Dutch citizenship. The above does justice to the basic principle that men and women are fully equal in nationality law.

The requirement of relinquishing the non-Dutch nationality will remain the starting point in the voluntary acquisition of Dutch citizenship by means of naturalisation. One exception to the relinquishment requirement is cancelled in the new act: adults who have spent part of their youth in the Kingdom will, in future, have to relinquish their non-Dutch nationality when acquiring Dutch citizenship. The reason for the above is the fact that the Kingdom is the state with which they the closest ties. The other nationality will no longer play any relevant legal role in daily life. The relinquishment requirement clarifies their legal position, which clarification serves both the interests of society as well as the interests of the citizen. This requirement also applies to a group of second generation migrants. They can acquire Dutch citizenship by means of the option procedure. Second generation migrants that have resided in the Kingdom since the age of four will also have to relinquish their non-Dutch nationality pursuant to the new act.

The new act also provides for the opportunity to withdraw Dutch citizenship with respect to those who have been irrevocably convicted of a crime that has seriously harmed the essential interests of the state. Think in this context of terrorist crimes, crimes against humanity and, for example, crimes against state security, liable to punishment of at least 8 years. The Minister of Justice will be competent to decide to withdraw Dutch citizenship in cases in which the above applies.