Moving from one nation to another has been a part of human history from time immemorial, long before any countries that are now members of the United Nations were conceived.
There is an immigration policy in every nation, no matter how big or small. Immigration is simple in certain nations. There is a considerably more complicated and time-consuming procedure in other nations.
There has been a lot of discussion over immigration and U.S. citizenship in the United States since Trump’s victory in 2016.
There are several steps to becoming a citizen of the United States, including completing an interview, passing exams in English language and American civics, and swearing an oath of loyalty to the United States.
The process is extensive and needs a great deal of time and effort. The United States may be considered the most difficult nation to get citizenship in, but numerous other countries are just as demanding—and some that are much more difficult.
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There are several ways to become a citizen of a different country:
- Blood Relations — The most basic of approaches. If a person’s parents or grandparents are citizens of a country, that person is automatically considered a citizen. If not, they will still have an easier road to citizenship than those whose parents and grandparents are not citizens. Immigrants may be unable to use this strategy since it needs a certain family tree.
- Birth Nation — The citizenship of children born in several nations is immediately conferred upon them. The child is entitled to citizenship if the parents aren’t nationals of the country. Birth tourism, in which a pregnant woman or spouse travels to another country only to give birth so that their kid might get citizenship, has been spurred on by this rule. This strategy is inaccessible to the vast majority of immigrants.
- Marriage — The spouse of a citizen born abroad usually has an easier time becoming a citizen in most nations. For example, couples may petition for citizenship in Spain after only one year of marriage. It’s possible for those who want to immigrate, but it requires much personal sacrifice.
- Naturalization — The most adaptable but also the most time-consuming approach to becoming a citizen. Naturalization is accessible to everyone who can establish their commitment to a nation by living in the country for a particular amount of time and demonstrating their ability to earn a living. For the most part, this is done via a combination of language tests, interviews with immigration authorities, and other ways of showing that the applicant has absorbed into the culture of their new country. Naturalization fees are also levied in several nations.
- Exceptional Ability — Immigrants who bring a certain set of world-class skills will be welcomed by many nations, even ones that are notoriously hostile to newcomers. For instance, if you have a degree in sports, research, or entertainment in your nation of origin. Immigrant visas are more likely to be granted to those with technical skills because of the high demand for their services in almost every country.
- Military Service — If you’re a foreign-born resident of a given country, you may be eligible to serve in the military and get a fast track to citizenship.
- Business Investment — Immigrants with the money to invest in enterprises in their host nation may frequently get an investment visa or a citizenship.
Top 14 Most Difficult Countries to Enter as an Immigrant:
- Vatican City
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United States
The Vatican is the world’s smallest independent state. Roughly 800 people are living there, of whom 450 are also citizens. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, there are only four methods to become a citizen of Vatican City, and they’re all very difficult to complete successfully.
The first three options are a Catholic Cardinal, a diplomat of the Holy See, or someone whose vocation necessitates them to reside in Vatican City. This third group includes Vatican officials and members of the Swiss Guard, whose job is to keep Vatican City safe.
The last and most direct route to U.S. citizenship is submitting an application to the church hierarchy. The wives and children of present residents and those with special authorization to live in Vatican City are the only ones eligible for this procedure.
While it’s true that Vatican City residents lose their citizenship whenever they leave the city, for example, if a member of the Swiss Guard finishes his or her term of service.
According to China’s 2020 census, just 941 out of more than a billion individuals were naturalized citizens, making it very difficult to become a citizen of China.
When a foreign-born person has a relative who is a Chinese citizen, or if they have a valid motive to become Chinese citizens, they may become naturalized citizens under the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China.
Chinese citizens are technically feasible to get naturalized, although the C.I.A. notes that in practical terms, it is exceedingly difficult. Long-term residence is a requirement for citizenship. However, the legislation does not specify how many years one must have lived in the country to qualify.
As part of the procedure for becoming a Japanese citizen, applicants must give up their citizenship in other countries and spend a minimum of five years in the nation before undergoing a lengthy assessment and interview.
As a result of the Nikkei legislation of 2009, Japan is now paying jobless Latin American immigrants to return home.
If a person’s father is not a citizen of Qatar, that person is also not a citizen. There is no automatic right to citizenship based on a person’s mother’s nationality.
Candidates seeking Qatari nationality must have resided lawfully in the country for a minimum of 25 years, with no more than a two-month gap between their visits. Around 50 foreign-born persons are naturalized yearly, and only about 100 ex-pats are granted permanent status each year in Qatar.
If you’re a naturalized citizen, you’re not entitled to the same rich privileges as Qatari citizens under the legislation.
It takes at least 30 years for a foreigner born in Liechtenstein to become a citizen. It takes five years less time to become a Liechtenstein citizen if you’re under the age of 20, and every year after that counts as two.
Residents of a municipality may choose to award citizenship to a newcomer after just 10 years of residency in a community-focused move. To become a citizen of Liechtenstein, a person must give up citizenship in any other nation or country.
United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia
According to U.A.E. Federal Law, foreign-born residents may seek citizenship after lawfully staying in the nation for 30 years. People of Arab heritage born outside of Oman, Qatar, or Bahrain may apply after seven years if they are citizens of those countries.
Child citizenship is not automatically granted to offspring of an Emirati female and a non-Emirati man, even if they have two Emirati parents. Those under the age of 18 may, nevertheless, apply for consideration.
To become a Kuwaiti citizen, one must have lived in the nation for at least twenty years. Those who are citizens of another Arab nation or the foreign-born wife of a Kuwaiti man qualify for a 15-year exemption. Further, the candidate must be a Muslim, either born that way or via conversion.
Converts must have been following their religion for at least five years before they may be considered. The only way to become a Saudi citizen is to marry a Saudi national. Non-Muslims may still be refused citizenship, even if this has been done.
Residents of Switzerland who are born outside the country must get a C visa, which permits them to stay and work in Switzerland. E.U. Nationals, U.S. and Canadian citizens, and residents of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nations must have lived in Switzerland continuously for five years before applying for the permit.
Individuals born outside of Switzerland must reside in Switzerland for a minimum of 10 years before they may become citizens.
Even if it seems simple, staying in Switzerland for so long requires being a rich investor, a highly competent employee of a Swiss firm, or the spouse of a Swiss citizen. In addition, new citizens must demonstrate that they have integrated into Swiss society and pose no threat to national security.
South Korea and Bhutan
All entry to Bhutan is strictly regulated and monitored. Even though it’s one of the world’s most remote countries, it just let foreign tourists into the country in 1974. Its regulations on citizenship are almost as stringent.
According to the Bhutan Citizenship Act, both parents must be citizens of Bhutan for a child to be awarded citizenship at birth. After 15 years of residency in Bhutan, those with just one Bhutanese parent must petition for naturalized citizenship.
After 20 years of residence in Bhutan, anyone born outside Bhutan who has no Bhutanese parents may apply (15 for government workers). To become a citizen of Bhutan, one must swear loyalty to the monarch, the nation, and the people of Bhutan.
Citizenship may be revoked if someone is found to be speaking out against the monarch or nation. South Korea, on the other hand, is a little more lenient. Males aged 18-35 must complete an 18-month military service requirement in addition to staying in the nation for five years and (typically) renunciation of any previous citizenship.
Austria and Germany
Immigrants with in-demand job talents are welcome in Austria. The problem is that only 11 vocations are in demand at the time of writing. To be given citizenship, if one’s career does not come under one of the 11 designated professions, one must be at the pinnacle of their field.
Aside from that, they’ll have to agree to study German, engage in Austrian culture, and commit to staying in Austria for 10 years and enunciating their previous nationalities.
One must be able to communicate fluently in German and thoroughly understand German culture and politics to be granted permanent residency in the country. It is also necessary to provide proof of employment and habitation.
To be eligible for citizenship, an applicant must have resided in the country for at least eight years (7 years for those who test well) and renounce all previous nationalities.
Achieving U.S. citizenship is more difficult now than twenty years ago, even though the United States has long been regarded as one of the easiest countries to immigrate to.
After all, everyone in the country, except Native Americans, is either descended from immigrants or is an immigrant. To permanently live in the United States, one must first secure a green card, which is becoming more difficult to obtain.
To receive a green card in the United States, one must be sponsored by an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen.
It is also possible to get sponsorship from the company after receiving an offer for an acceptable position—provided that the job is not being snatched from an American citizen. Green cards are also given to citizens of certain countries as a diversity lottery with an annual allocation of just 50,000.
Also See: Hague Convention Countries 2022
For individuals with exceptional skill or a large sum of money to invest in a U.S. company, the application process is also open to them.
Green card holders must spend five years in the U.S., pass an English and American history exam, and take a pledge of allegiance to the United States Constitution before becoming U.S. citizens. On the other hand, applicants are not compelled to give up their previous citizenship.
|Country||Years of Residency Required||Additional Notes|
|Austria||10 years||Must have in-demand or top-notch professional skills; must learn German, assimilate w/ Austrian culture, and renounce other citizenship.|
|Bhutan||20 years (15 for government workers)||Must swear oath of allegiance to king, country, and people. Citizenship can be revoked for criticizing same.|
|China||Unclear. Requirement exists but is poorly defined.||Can naturalize if relatives are citizens living in China. Process is arduous and challenging.|
|Germany||8 years (7 for some)||Must learn German, have gainful employment, and show knowledge of German society.|
|Japan||5 years||Must undergo years-long screening and interview process, renounce other citizenships|
|Kuwait||20 years (15 for male spouses and certain nationalities)||Must speak Arabic and must have been Muslim for 5 years minimum.|
|Liechtenstein||30 years (5 years if married, each year counts for two if under age 20)||Must renounce citizenship in any other country.|
|Qatar||25 years, having never left for longer than two months||Must have valuable skill. Still will not have full rights once naturalized.|
|Saudi Arabia||not applicable||Must be spouse of Saudi citizen.|
|South Korea||5 years||Must learn Korean and renounce other citizenships. Males aged 18-35 must serve 18 months in military.|
|Switzerland||10 years (5 if from Canada, U.S., or E.U. or EFTA country)||Must have difficult-to-obtain permit to stay in country for required time; must demonstrate devotion to Swiss society.|
|United Arab Emirates||30 years (3 years for citizens of Oman, Qatar, or Bahrain, 7 years for other Arabic peoples).|
|United States||5 years||Must pass increasingly stringent eligibility requirements, must pass English language and U.S. history exam, swear oath of allegiance to U.S.|
|Vatican City||not applicable||Must be working for the Catholic Church in some capacity or meet extremely narrow requirements. Citizenship is impermanent.|