Can I Become a Vietnamese Citizen?

February 24th, 2023
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Consider a person born in Vietnam (Anna).  Both of Anna’s parents (Roy & Jade) live in Vietnam but were not born here.  They are not Vietnamese citizens, and they have no Vietnamese blood.  For clarity, let’s assume that both parents were born in the US and both are still American citizens.

Is it possible for Anna to become a Vietnamese citizen based on the fact that she was born in Vietnam [and even though her parents Roy and Jade are American]?

As her parents are both foreign nationals Anna cannot be a Vietnamese citizen by birth. It is not relevant that she was born in Vietnam nor that her parents both had permanent residence in Vietnam at the time.

According to the Law on Nationality[1], a person can have Vietnamese nationality at birth but only if they fall within one of the following cases:

  • The nationality of a child born to two parents who have Vietnamese nationality is entitled to Vietnamese nationality. This is so, even if the child is born outside of Vietnam, but its parents are both Vietnamese citizens. The child is a Vietnamese citizen by birth[2] regardless of any other conditions.
  • A child with one parent who is a Vietnamese citizen[3] and the other parent is stateless, is entitled to Vietnamese nationality.
  • If the mother is a Vietnamese citizen but the father is unknown, the child is entitled to Vietnamese nationality. There is no requirement regarding place of birth or the need to know the identity of both parents.
  • If one parent is a Vietnamese citizen and the other parent is a foreign citizen, the child can still be a Vietnamese national, but this must be agreed in writing by the parents before the child’s birth is registered. If the parents can’t agree on the child’s nationality, the child is able to take Vietnamese nationality[4]. Only if both parents agree on foreign nationality is the child unable to take Vietnamese citizenship.
  • The nationality of a child when both parents are stateless[5] or in the case that the mother is stateless and the father is unknown, can be Vietnamese if at least one parent has permanent residence in Vietnam and the child was born within the territory of Vietnam.
  • Finally, both an abandoned infant, and a child who is found in Vietnam whose parents are unknown, are entitled to Vietnamese nationality. In case one or both parents are later found, and if one or both parents are foreign nationals, the child is no longer entitled to Vietnamese nationality. However, this only applies if the child is under the age of 15 [6]. That is, if such child has reached full 15, she will retain Vietnamese nationality even if it is learned that she has a parent who is a foreign national.

So, Vietnamese law does not permit a child born in Vietnam, whose parents are foreign nationals, to be a Vietnamese national by reason of birth. Without special circumstances as discussed, Anna cannot hold Vietnamese nationality.

However, if Roy and Jade are living in Vietnam when Anna is born, and if Anna is born in Vietnam, and if her parents wish Anna to take Vietnamese nationality, then either Roy or Jade can him/herself apply for Vietnamese citizenship for him/herself, but must meet the following conditions[7]:

  • Firstly, having the full capacity to perform civil acts with a record of obeying the Constitution and law and; respecting the traditions, customs, and practices of Vietnam. In addition, to be naturalized, an applicant should understand Vietnamese suffciently to integrate into the community, must have resided in Vietnam for 5 years or more by the time he/she applies for naturalization, and is capable of making her livelihood in Vietnam. But, if Roy or Jade fall into a case of special merit or if he or she has benefited Vietnam, he or she may receive Vietnamese citizenship as a special act without fulfilling these conditions.
  • Secondly, a person who applies for Vietnamese nationality must take Vietnamese names. They must also renounce their foreign nationality, but some exceptions may be made.

If Roy or Jade meets the conditions, he or she will be granted Vietnamese citizenship. Anna will also be entitled to Vietnamese citizenship as she has a mother or father who is a Vietnamese citizen[8].

So, as you can see, the rules on citizenship are quite clear.

[1] Law on Nationality no. 24/2008/QH 12 dated 13 November 2008 of the National Assembly of Vietnam (as amended, supplemented in 2014, see Article 14.1

[2] Ibid, Article 15

[3] Ibid, Article 16.1

[4] Ibid, Article 16.2

[5] Ibid, article 17

[6] Ibid, article 18

[7] Ibid, article 19

[8] Ibid, article 16.2

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