Almost 40.000 people acquired Belgian nationality in 2021

In 2021, 39.448 persons acquired Belgian citizenship. This number is similar to that of 2019, before the start of the pandemic, the annual report by federal migration centre Myria showed on Tuesday.

In 2019, 40.588 people acquired the Belgian nationality. Due to the Covid-19 crisis and its restrictions, there was a kink in the figures in 2020, with only 34.441 people obtaining Belgian citizenship.

Morocco remains the number one country of origin. The 3.611 Moroccans who became Belgians represent nine percent of all "new Belgians" last year. In second place are the Syrians who, just like the Iraqis, are increasingly present in the figures during recent years.

Myria also pointed out, however, that there are significant problems with the current procedure for obtaining citizenship. The strict condition of a "legal residence", for instance, often leads to problems. The person applying for nationality must have a residence, with an indefinite duration, at the time when the application is submitted. In addition, residence prior to the submission of the application is taken into account.

"This limitative list is discriminatory: it excludes foreigners who have a right of residence but hold a document that is not on the list"

But this current system, whereby legal residence is demonstrated on the basis of an exhaustive list of residence permits, has already been condemned several times in case law. "This limitative list is discriminatory: it excludes foreigners who have a right of residence but hold a document that is not on the list", says Myria.

Furthermore, Myria also denounces old sexist rules which can disadvantage the granting of Belgian nationality. "Even though gender discrimination was corrected in the law in 1985, several situations prove that the effects of old sexist legislation are still felt in 2022, for some children born to Belgian mothers before 1967", the organisation said. Under these older laws, Belgian nationality was only automatically granted to children born in Belgium to a Belgian father, not a mother.



© PHOTO Jonas Hamers / ImageGlobe.

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