Media Release | Hon. Rimbink Pato, LLB, OBE, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Rimbink Pato, said that the recent passing of the Dual Citizenship Bill in Parliament concerns the consequential amendments made to the Constitution and the Citizenship Act which will enable the grant of dual citizenship to personas qualified under the criteria set out by these amendments.
“These changes to our Constitution will now enable people with real connections to PNG but who presently hold citizenship in other countries, to become PNG citizens without losing that foreign citizenship they hold” said Pato.
“Let me at the outset commend the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority, the agency taking the lead in this, for the work they have done so far to bring these amendments to the Constitution and the Citizenship Act to enable the process of dual citizenship in the country to come to fruition” added Minister Pato.
“As PNG becomes more globalised, Papua New Guineans are now living and working abroad with some that have even acquired foreign citizenship in those countries. These changes will now give the opportunity to them to regain their PNG Citizenship, reconnect to their roots and contribute back to PNG as their country of origin: said Minister Pato.
Minister Pato said that the dual citizenship law will ease some of the stringent requirements for citizenship in the Constitution which prevent those who were initially PNG citizens by decent or those that are married to PNG citizens to become PNG citizens as well.
For example, previously a person must live in the country for at least 8 years before they can be qualified to become naturalized citizens. Spouses of PNG citizens also face the same obstacles. Whilst there will be a stringent application process to prevent risk of scam marriages or “marriage for convenience” for foreigners obtaining PNG citizenship, proper checks and control systems will be in place to enable genuine marriages where spouses of PNG citizens can contribute to the country’s development.
“Many countries are now offering citizenship to foreigners to attract investment into their countries. Genuine investment can contribute to the much needed development and PNG must have this option available in our citizenship laws to attract such foreign investment” said Minister Pato.
“After more than 40 years many things have changed in the country and around the globe. We must learn to adopt with the changing times. Many children and grand-children of Papua New Guinean men and women want to have a real connection to the country of their mother or father. Many children have expatriates born in PNG want to remain in the country and contribute to the country’s development. Many others want to come and invest in the country. It is with these considerations in mind that the Government has passed these amendments to the Constitution to enable dual citizenship” the Minister said.
Minister Pato said that at present children born to a union between a Papua New Guinean citizen and a foreigner must decide before they turn 19 years old to renounce their PNG citizenship or not. Under existing laws, if a child in such a situation elects to obtain the citizenship of the foreign parent, they automatically lose their PNG citizenship. This has prevented a lot of people with PNG lineage from gaining PNG citizenship. With dual citizenship now permitted, such persons will be able to obtain dual citizenship.
“I would like to clarify that the recent amendments for dual citizenship provides for only people from prescribed countries (where dual citizenship is allowed and approved) to apply for dual citizenship. Persons with PNG heritage from non-prescribed countries or countries that do not have dual citizenship laws will not be able to qualify for dual citizenship” said Mr Pato.
Minister Pato added that the recent amendments also provide for foreign investors and sports persons to be eligible for dual citizenship separate from the process of citizenship by naturalization.
“PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority is now working to make relevant changes in the Citizenship Regulations reflecting the amendments to the Constitution and put in place relevant administrative process to implement dual citizenship” said Minister Pato.
Hon. Rimbink Pato, LLB, OBE, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs & Immigration