Tongan nationality law


Tongan nationality law

Nationality and citizenship in the Kingdom of Tonga are currently defined and regulated by the "Nationality (Amendment) Act 2007".

Obtention of citizenship

Tonga's Constitution [ [http://www.paclii.org/cgi-paclii/disp.pl/to/legis/consol_act/cot238/cot238.html?query=cot238 Constitution of Tonga] (1875)] does not include a specific clause on nationality or citizenship. However, clause 29 pertains to naturalisation::"Any foreigner after he has resided in the Kingdom for the space of five years or more may with the consent of the King take the oath of allegiance and he may be granted Letters of Naturalization and all naturalized subjects shall have the same rights and privileges as native born subjects of Tonga with the exception that they shall not be entitled to the rights of hereditary tax allotments."

Specific legislation, therefore, defines nationality and citizenship. The most recent piece of legislation, in 2007, was the "Nationality (Amendment) Act", designed to revoke the ban on dual citizenship.

At present, Tongan nationality may be obtained by birth in Tonga to a Tongan parent, by birth abroad to a Tongan parent, by marriage, and by naturalisation. A person born overseas to a Tongan parent automatically obtains Tongan nationality, even if he or she also has the nationality of his or her country of birth. [ [http://www.tongareview.com/Resource.aspx?ID=4366 "A Bill for an Act to Amend the Nationality Act"] , section 4]

In February 2008, two former Tongan citizens who had lost their Tongan nationality by obtaining the nationality of other countries (one had become an American, the other an Australian) were the first to re-obtain Tongan nationality through application on the basis of the 2007 "Nationality (Amendment) Act" [ [http://www.pmo.gov.to/artman/publish/article_551.shtml "First Tongans to Reclaim Tongan Citizenship"] , press release from the office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, February 26, 2008] . Re-obtaining citizenship in this way entails submitting an application to the King, having this application reviewed by the Minister for Immigration, and swearing an oath of allegiance [ [http://www.tongareview.com/Resource.aspx?ID=4366 "A Bill for an Act to Amend the Nationality Act"] , section 7] .

Tongans and Commonwealth citizenship

Tongan citizens are also Commonwealth citizens, and are thereby entitled to certain rights in the United Kingdom - notably the right to vote and stand for election.

References


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