Acquiring Philippine Citizenship
Foreigners residing in the Philippines may, as part of a long-term plan, consider becoming a Philippine citizen. There are many foreigners who have been in the Philippines for a considerable time and find that acquiring Philippine citizenship is a way of strengthening their bond with this country.
The process of acquiring Philippine citizenship is called “naturalization” and is possible under the Revised Naturalization Law (Commonwealth Act 473) and the Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000 (Republic Act 9139).
Citizenship under the Revised Naturalization Law
Under the Revised Naturalization Law, a foreigner applying for Philippine citizenship must meet the following qualifications:
1. He must not be less than twenty-one (21) years of age on the day of the hearing of the petition;
2. He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten (10) years;
3. He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;
4. He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than Five Thousand Pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;
5. He must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any one of the principal Philippine languages; and
6. He must have enrolled his minor children of school age, in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Office of Private Education of the Philippines, where the Philippine history, government and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen (Section 2, Revised Naturalization Law).
The period of residency may be reduced from ten (10) to five (5) years provided that the petitioner has any of the following qualifications:
1. Having honourably held under the Government of the Philippines or under that of any of the provinces, cities, municipalities, or political subdivisions thereof;
2. Having established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines;
3. Being married to a Filipino woman;
4. Having been engaged as a teacher in the Philippines in a public or recognized private school not established for the exclusive instruction of children of persons of a particular nationality or race, in any of the branches of education or industry for a period of not less than two years; or
5. Having been born in the Philippines (Section 3, Revised Naturalization Law).
The application for naturalization under the Revised Naturalization Law is made through a petition filed with the proper court of the foreigner’s residence in the Philippines.
It is important to note that the applicant must file with the Department of Justice a sworn declaration to become a citizen of the Philippines one (1) year prior to the filing of the petition (Section 5, Revised Naturalization Law). Exempted from this requirement are persons born in the Philippines and have received their primary and secondary education in public schools or those recognized by the Philippine Government and not limited to any race or nationality, and those who have resided continuously in the Philippines for a period of thirty (30) years or more before filing their application.
Citizenship under the Administrative Naturalization Law
Foreigners born and residing in the Philippines may apply for Philippine citizenship under the Administrative Naturalization Law.
Applicants for citizenship under this law must possess the following qualifications:
1. The applicant must be born in the Philippines and residing therein since birth;
2. The applicant must not be less than eighteen (18) years of age, at the time of filing of his/her petition;
3. The applicant must be of good moral character and believes in the underlying principles of the Constitution, and must have conducted himself/herself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his/her entire period of residence in the Philippines in his relation with the duly constituted government as well as with the community in which he/she is living;
4. The applicant must have received his/her primary and secondary education in any public or private educational institution duly recognized by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, where Philippine history, government and civics are taught and prescribed as part of the school curriculum and where enrolment is not limited to any race or nationality: Provided, that should he/she have minor children of school age, he/she must have enrolled them in similar schools;
5. The applicant must have a known trade, business, profession or lawful occupation, from which he/she derives income sufficient for his/her support and if he/she is married and/or has dependents, also that of his/her family: Provided, however, That this shall not apply to applicants who are college degree holders but are unable to practice their profession because they are disqualified to do so by reason of their citizenship;
6. The applicant must be able to read, write and speak Filipino or any of the dialects of the Philippines; and
7. The applicant must have mingled with the Filipinos and evinced desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipino people (Section 3, Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000).
An application for citizenship under this law will be filed before the Special Committee on Naturalization headed by the Solicitor General of the Philippines.
Just as in other countries, the grant of citizenship to foreign nationals is a privilege. It may appear tedious at first, but will not be a problem for an applicant who meets the qualifications and is, more importantly, intent on applying for Philippine citizenship. At the end of the day, acquiring Philippine citizenship is a final step to calling the Philippines “home.”
Author: Paolo Amistoso who is an authority on this subject.
Researcher: Kristine Feliciano
Filipinos taking oath – http://philippinedualcitizenship.com/what-is-it/