Law No. 38 of 2005 on the acquisition of Qatari nationality

Explanatory Memorandum to the Provisions of the Qatari Nationality Law

 

Explanatory Memorandum to the Provisions of the Qatari Nationality Law:

 

Laws regarding nationality are of the utmost importance to the legal foundation of any country. Therefore, it was considered essential that the Permanent Constitution of the State, in Article 41, stipulated that “the Qatari Nationality and provisions thereofare to be determined by Law. Such provisions shall have constitutional power”. This is due to the fact that the Constitution entrusts the legislative authority to regulate the provisions and criteria of Qatari nationality and gives such provisions constitutional power in all aspects.

 

Such provisions may not be amended until ten (10) years have elapsed from the date of execution of the Constitution. Any amendment after the aforementioned period shall be in accordance with the procedures pursued and the majority vote which amends the Constitution.  This stipulation shows the Constitutional Legislator's desire to allow sufficient time for the objective assessment of suchamendments to the provisions of the Nationality Law before a proposal of implementation of such amendments is allowed.

 

This current Qatari Nationality Law is a natural extension of the Nationality Law No. 2 of 1961, in which consideration is given to the developments and changes that Qatari society has undergone, and the impact of these developments on the criteria for identifying the categories of person entitled to nationality, in accordance with internationally established laws of nationality. This Law begins, in the first article, by defining who indigenous Qatarisare, citing four categories:

 

First category: Those who lived in Qatar before 1930 and maintained both their habitual residence there and their Qatari nationality until the Qatari Nationality Law No. 2 of 1961 came into force. Indigenous Qataris are those living and settled in the country before 1930. A temporary or casual stay during that period owing to the circumstances of work or trade, or of birth within the State territory, shall not be regarded as settlement. These people shall have maintained their residence in the State and retained their Qatari nationality until the Qatari Nationality Law came into force.

 

Second Category: Anyone who is proved to be of Qatari origin, even if they do not meet the conditions stipulated in the preceding category, but in respect of whom an Emiri decision has been issued granting nationality thereto. This category has been added to the category considered under the current Law as Qatari, in order to address the cases of people of Qatari origin who do not fulfil the requirements laid down in the above first category. Two simultaneous conditions are identified for a person to be considered of Qatari origin, according to this category. The first is that the person is proved to be of Qatari origin, and the second is that an Emiri decision has been issued granting the person such a status.

 

Third Category: Those who regained Qatari nationality in accordance with the provisions of the Nationality Law of Qatar. This category pertains to the cases of those who are found to be of Qatari origin but who left the country for reasons to work abroad, and then returned to resettle in Qatar.

 

Fourth Category: Those from the first three categories who were born either in Qatar or abroad of a Qatari father. They come under the same category as the father.

 

Since the granting of Qatari nationality by naturalization is determined and bestowed by the State alone, as it may deem it appropriate in certain circumstances and upon certain justifications,and that the State has the right to refuse granting citizenship even though the legal requirements are met, Article 2 addresses the granting of Qatari citizenship by naturalization, which requires that the applicant has been continuously resident in Qatar for at least twenty-five (25) years, has a legitimate means of income, is of good standing and has never have been convicted of a crime involving  dishonest or shameful behaviour. In addition, he or she must have a good knowledge of the Arabic language.

 

-          In the interests of the Qatari mother, the law requires, in the application of the regulations pertaining to Qatari nationality, that priority to be given to children of a Qatari mother.

 

-          In all cases, those who were born in Qatar or abroad to a Qatari father by naturalizationshall be considered as naturalized Qatari by operation of the law.

 

-          For humanitarian reasons, Article 2 develops a new provision to the effect that Qatari citizenship is granted to those born in Qatar to unknown parents, and they are thus considered naturalized citizens. A foundling is also regarded as having been born in Qatar, unless the contrary is proved.

 

-          Article 3 also permits the granting of Qatari citizenship on humanitarian grounds to the widow of a Qatari nationality applicant with minor children in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated therein. This provision echoes a similar provision contained in Article 4 of the previous Law.

 

-          Under the provisions of Article 4, Qatari citizenship may be granted to the minor children of a naturalized citizen who are living with him in Qatar at the time of his being granted citizenship. In the interests of his minor children living outside the country, the law  allows them to be granted Qatari citizenship five years from the date of their first residence in Qatar. Should they have reached adulthood when submitting the application, they shall complete a period of fifteen years from the date of their first residence in Qatar, just like the children of naturalized citizens who have reached adulthood.

 

-          In the interests of marital stability, Article 5 grants Qatari citizenship to the wife of a naturalized citizen, provided that she stays with him in Qatar for a period of not less than five consecutive years after the husband’s acquisition of Qatari nationality.

 

-          Article 6 also grants Qatari citizenship to those who have rendered great service to the country, or who possess special skills required by the State, or students who exhibit promising scientific ability. In honouring these categories, they are exempted from the provisions of Article 2, which sets out the conditions to be met by applicants for Qatari nationality, and Article 18, which prohibits the combination of Qatari nationality with any other nationality. The Law in this regard grants Qatari citizenship to a naturalized person who also retains his original nationality.

 

 

-          To facilitate the return home of people of Qatari origin, Article 7 permits the restoration of Qatari citizenship to those who prove to be of Qatari origin according to sub-articles 1.1, 1.2 and 1.4 of Article 1 of this Law. As proof of serious intent, it requires three conditions to be met:
1.         Residence in Qatar for at least three consecutive years.
2.         Having a legitimate means of earning an income.

3.         Being of good character and reputation.

 

-          The Law regards as Qatari a woman who marries a Qatari man, in accordance with the provisions of the Law regulating marriage to foreigners. This shall be the case on the condition that she declares to the Minister of the Interior her wish to obtain Qatari citizenship, and also on the condition that her marriage continues for five years from the date of this declaration. However, the Minister of the Interior may decide, in the public interest, to postpone the granting of Qatari citizenship to the wife for one year. This postponement may then be extended for a further year. If the marriage ends before the five-year period has elapsed, due to divorce or the death of the husband, the legislator may grant Qatari citizenship to the woman on compassionate grounds if she has one or more children. This is contingent upon the woman remaining in Qatar until the end of the five-year period.

 

In the interests of a wife who has acquired Qatari citizenship, the Law guarantees the continuance of that nationality, even if the marriage has come to an end, with the exception of the following three cases:

1.         Where the marriage violates the provisions of the Law regulating the marriage of foreigners.

2.         Where the wife loses her nationality immediately after the marriage.

3.         Where the wife has regained her original nationality, or has acquired the nationality of another country.

 

-          The Law protects a Qatari woman’s nationality in the case of her marriage to a non-Qatari, unless it is proved that she has acquired the nationality of her husband. In her interests, the Law gives her the option to regain her original nationality if she waives or rescinds the other nationality, even despite the continuation of her marriage to a non-Qatari.

 

-          Article 11 addresses cases of withdrawal of citizenship, explaining this in five specific situations, in which the general norm of narrowing the possibility of withdrawal of nationality is considered and limited to specific cases in which the citizen is usually outside the authority of the State. Thus it is passed in line with such general norms. Qatari citizenship may be restored to those from whom it has been withdrawn, if this is in the public interest. This makes allowance for the fact that a person from whom nationality has been withdrawn may in future prove to be a worthy and loyal citizen.

 

-          The law permits the withdrawal of Qatari nationality from a naturalized citizen, in any of the cases in which withdrawal is provided for in Article 11, or in any of the cases of withdrawal provided for in Article 12. In such cases, the State is not bound to withdraw nationality; it may instead act to maintain a person’s citizenship if this is considered to be in the public interest.

 

-          Article 13 provides that the consequence of forfeiture or withdrawal of citizenship must impact on the individual alone, and not extend to his family, applying the principle of personal punishment, unless the decision stipulates otherwise as an exclusion from the general norm.

 

-          Article 14 does not give retrospective effect to decisions regarding the granting, withdrawal, forfeiture/removal, or reinstatement or restoration of citizenship, except where Qatari citizenship has been acquired by fraudulent means through false statements, the concealment of substantial information or assisting others to gain Qatari nationality fraudulently. This is due to the fact that it is illegal to obtain naturalization fraudulently.

 

-          According to Article 15, anyone who regains Qatari citizenship may exercise the right to vote from the date it is regained, and he shall have the right to stand for election in any legislative body, and may seek appointment thereto after ten years have elapsed from the date of regaining Qatari citizenship. Article 16 does not permit the recently naturalized Qatari to exercise the right of standing for election or being appointed to any legislative body. This prohibition is consistent with the provisions of Article 80 of the Constitution, which stipulates that members of the Shura Council shall be of Qatari origin.

 

-          The Law has introduced a new provision pertaining to the maximum number of people entitled to Qatari citizenship annually, and Article 17 limits that number to fifty people per year, in compliance with the recommendation of the Shura Council, who were of the opinion that increasing this number would have a negative impact on the demographics of the country, as well as having other adverse social and economic consequences.

 

-          Article 18 adopts the principle of the impermissibility of the combination of Qatari nationality and any other nationality as a general rule, apart from cases which are excluded by a decision of the Emir.

 

-          In recognition of the sanctity of belonging to the homeland, and in order to emphasize the duties and responsibilities and the requirement of complete loyalty to the nation that are consequent on such affiliation, Article 19 has developed a new provision to the effect that the naturalized person must take an oath before the judges of the Court of First Instance.

 

-          Given the important role of the Standing Committee for Naturalisation, which was established under a previous law by a decision of the Council of Ministers, there was considered to be a need to have such a committee enshrined and established in the Law itself. Article 20 stipulates the establishment of such a committee, and determines its jurisdiction and the procedures to be followed by a decision of the Emir.

 

-          Qatari citizenship is an issue decided by law, and passports and ID cards are in no way able to prove citizenship, but act merely as evidence denoting such citizenship, and may be devalued should investigation prove that the holder does not meet the legal conditions of citizenship. The Law consequently does not consider, in the case of a dispute over Qatari nationality, a passport or ID card as proof of enjoyment of such citizenship, and proof of the required conditions must be provided in order to acquire Qatari nationality, in accordance with the evidence that is generally accepted by law.