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Korea to Allow Dual Citizenship on Limited Basis

Posted November. 13, 2009 08:01,   


A man who holds multiple passports because he was born in either the United States or Canada can hold dual citizenship after completing military service in Korea.

Dual citizenship on a limited basis will also be granted to children from multicultural families or immigrant women who came to Korea for marriage, talented foreigners, and ethnic Koreans who live abroad but wish to return to their motherland.

The Justice Ministry said yesterday that it will propose a revision bill for the Nationality Act for the first time. The ministry will seek to prevent dual nationality holders who acquired them because of their birthplace from giving up Korean citizenship, and attract more foreign workers because of the country’s low birth rate and rapidly aging population.

Under the revised bill, men who acquired citizenship because they were born abroad in countries such as the U.S. and Canada that recognize territorial principle can hold dual citizenship. Territorial principle is the application of a country’s law to people residing in national territory regardless of their citizenship.

They must, however, submit a written pledge forswearing their rights as foreigners while in the country, including tax breaks. Men can also gain dual citizenship two years after completing military service in Korea.

Women must submit the pledge before their 22nd birthday. Both men and women had to choose one passport before turning 22.

Foreigners married to Koreans and living in Korea, expats who have lived in Korea for more than 20 years or were born in Korea, talented staff, ethnic Korean adoptees from overseas, and ethnic Koreans aged 65 and older who lived abroad for a long time will be allowed to hold dual citizenship if they submit the written pledge.

The ministry also got stricter on regulations for giving up Korean citizenship while expanding the scope of dual citizenship holders. Dual citizenship holders living in Korea cannot give up Korean nationality by their own choice, and those subject to military duty among dual citizenship holders can give up Korean citizenship when they complete military service.

The automatic cancellation of Korean nationality for birthright dual citizenship holders who do not select one nationality by age 22 was replaced with a new rule granting one more chance to choose nationality by sending a paper mandating citizenship selection.