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Dual Citizenship in Nepal: Is It Really Allowed?

Dual citizenship refers to the status of an individual who is a citizen of two countries simultaneously. It allows individuals to enjoy the benefits and rights of citizenship in both countries. However, the rules and regulations regarding dual citizenship vary from country to country.

So can someone hold both Nepali and another citizenship? Let’s take a deep dive into the current laws and restrictions around dual nationality in Nepal.

Understanding Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality, is a legal status that allows an individual to be a citizen of two countries simultaneously. This status permits individuals to enjoy the rights and privileges of both nations, including the ability to live, work, and own property in either country, as well as access to education, healthcare, and other social services.

Dual citizenship Nepal 2023

Nepal historically did not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship. If someone naturalized as a citizen of another country, they would automatically lose their Nepali citizenship.

However, the Nepal Citizen Act 2006 brought changes by allowing for dual citizenship in certain circumstances. According to this law, if a person by birth or descent is a citizen of Nepal, they can also acquire the citizenship of another country.

So Nepali citizenship acquired by birth cannot be taken away. But naturalized citizens will lose the Nepali citizenship if they then gain citizenship elsewhere.

Understanding the Legality of Dual Citizenship in Nepal 

The new Nepali constitution ratified in 2015 recognizes a person’s ability to have dual nationality. Article 11(3) of the constitution states:

“A person who has acquired citizenship of a foreign country on the basis of the citizenship of Nepal may retain his/her citizenship of Nepal.”

However, the constitution prohibits dual citizenship for some select positions. Government officials, judiciary officials, and other positions as decided by federal law cannot hold dual citizenship. Despite what the constitution says, the actual process of getting dual citizenship has still not been clearly defined in the laws. There is no official government procedure yet for providing proof of dual nationality status for Nepalis.

Who Is Eligible for Dual Citizenship in Nepal?

Based on Nepal’s citizenship act and constitution, the following categories of people are eligible for dual nationality:

  • Nepali citizens by birth/descent who naturalize elsewhere. This is the most common situation, such as Nepalis who immigrate to the US or UK and become citizens there. They do not lose their Nepali citizenship.
  • Foreign women married to Nepali men who acquire Nepali citizenship through naturalization can potentially also keep their original citizenship.
  • Former Nepali citizens who re-acquire Nepali citizenship by naturalization may also be eligible to keep dual nationality.
  • Children born with a Nepali parent/s abroad may be citizens of both Nepal and their country of birth. Many countries grant birthright citizenship.

The restrictions on government officials holding dual citizenship could theoretically also apply to natural-born dual nationals. But in practice, it has not affected people born with dual nationality.

Benefits of Dual Citizenship for Nepalis

Being able to legally hold both a Nepali and foreign citizenship has many potential benefits:

  • Ease of travel and moving between Nepal and another country. A second passport facilitates visa-free travel and residency rights in more places.
  • Ability to own property and conduct business in both countries. Dual citizens can own real estate and operate companies in multiple countries.
  • Access to public services and welfare benefits from both countries, like healthcare and education. This provides more options and security.
  • Being able to pass on citizenship and national identity to children from more than one country. This gives kids a broader set of future opportunities.
  • Participation in political and social life of Nepal and another country. Dual citizens can vote, get involved in community issues, and influence policies in multiple countries.
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Which Countries Allow Dual Citizenship with Nepal?

Nepal may recognize dual citizenship, but the other country where you want to hold citizenship needs to allow it too. Many nations are perfectly fine with their citizens also being Nepali citizens.

For example, countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, and many others all allow dual citizenship. But some countries like China, Japan, and others restrict or do not permit dual nationality.

So to understand if you can legally be a dual national with Nepal and another country, you need to check the specific laws of that other country. Some may require you to apply for special permission or obtain proof of dual status from the Nepali government.

The Future of Dual Citizenship in Nepal

While progress has been made, Nepal’s dual nationality policy is still evolving. There are calls to further clarify and solidify the rights of dual citizens:

  • Creating formal documentation or certificates to recognize and identify dual nationals. This would help them prove status and prevent misrepresentation.
  • Updating citizenship regulations to bring them fully in line with the constitution. Remove ambiguities on naturalized citizens.
  • Define rules for citizenship of children born to Nepalis abroad. Make retention of citizenship spanning generations easier.
  • Evaluate restrictions on government officials’ dual citizenship. Assess whether prohibitions are justified or too limiting.
  • Consider allowing certain foreigners like spouses of Nepalis to naturalize without giving up original citizenship.

With over 3 million Nepalis estimated to live abroad, resolving these issues will allow many to maintain ties to Nepal. Dual citizenship is the new reality for the global Nepali diaspora.

What Legal cases can Individuals with Dual Citizenship in Nepal face?

Understanding the punishment for dual citizenship in Nepal is crucial for anyone who might find themselves navigating this complex terrain.

An individual with multiple citizenship is viewed as having breached the passport law and the immigration policy of the nation. These transgressions are met with stringent legal consequences. Consequences under Passport Law and Immigration Policy

Section 21 of the Passport Act provides specific punishments for individuals guilty of submitting false documents. Penalties range from a hefty fine of Rs 200,000 to 500,000 and a potential prison sentence spanning 1 to 3 years. Beyond these immediate legal repercussions, such individuals may face other serious charges.

Potential Charges: Forgery, Treason, and Political Exclusion

The legal cases an individual with dual citizenship in Nepal can face extend beyond mere fines and prison sentences. Such a person could also face charges of forgery, a serious offence that carries its own set of legal consequences.

Even more dramatically, a person with dual citizenship could be charged with treason, a severe crime that highlights the perceived seriousness of holding multiple nationalities.

Additionally, the individual might face lifelong political repercussions. They could be barred from participating in electoral politics for life, a significant restriction that would limit their role in the nation’s political landscape.

Navigating Citizenship: The Case of Deputy Prime Minister Rabi Lamichhane

A noteworthy instance illustrating the complexities of dual citizenship in Nepal is the case of Rabi Lamichhane.

The president of the Rashtriya Swatantra Party, Lamichhane’s citizenship status became a subject of national debate and ended up costing him his membership in the House of Representatives.

A Tangle of Citizenship and Politics

Lamichhane’s journey of citizenship is layered and complex. In March 2014, he acquired American citizenship, which, according to the constitutional act, automatically rescinded his Nepali citizenship. Despite renouncing his American citizenship and returning to his homeland three months later, he did not immediately reacquire his Nepali citizenship.

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This oversight became a significant issue after Lamichhane won the general election on November 20, 2022. All he had as proof of his Nepali nationality was a copy of his citizenship issued in 1994 by descent.

The Fallout: Renunciation and Reclamation

This irregularity in Lamichhane’s citizenship status had severe consequences. He was stripped of his post in the House of Representatives and instructed to follow the process stated in the Citizenship Act of 2006 to reclaim his Nepali citizenship.

The case of Rabi Lamichhane underlines the severity of the consequences that come with dual citizenship in Nepal and the meticulousness with which these laws are upheld.

Nepal Dual Citizenship News: The creation of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA)

In Nepal’s ever-evolving discourse on dual citizenship, one development stands out: the establishment of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA).

This association was formed with the primary aim of unifying the Nepali diaspora and harnessing their skills, knowledge, and resources for the socio-economic development of the Nepalese community and the nation of Nepal.

A Conceptualized Framework Turned Reality

The idea for the NRNA was first conceptualized by Nepalese residents in Russia in 2002. This was followed by a meeting in London in 2003, where a coordination committee was formed to unify the Nepali diaspora.

The Government of Nepal duly acknowledged the significance of this idea, and the First NRN Global Conference on October 11 2003, marked a significant milestone in the association’s journey.

This day has since been declared NRN Day by the Nepal government.

The NRN Card: A Key Identifier

An integral part of this new framework is the NRN card. This is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu, and these cards are distributed internationally by Nepali Embassies and Missions.

For more information regarding the NRN Card, including privileges, fee structure, validity, eligibility, and queries relating to visas and more, individuals can contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at +977-01-4200182 or click here to learn more.

NRN Citizenship Nepal – dual citizenship Nepal and USA

One of the primary debates in the discourse on dual citizenship in Nepal revolves around Non-Resident Nepalis or NRNs.

The New Citizenship Act 2063: A Turning Point

The conversation around NRNs took a significant turn with the introduction of the New Citizenship Act 2063. Endorsed by Honorable President Ram Chandra Poudel, this act brought about a crucial change in the legal status of NRNs.

According to the provisions of this act, NRN nationals are allowed to hold dual citizenship.

What are the Rights provided to NRNs? 

One of the fundamental rights given to NRNs is acquiring a Nepali passport. This provision allows them to maintain a formal link with their country of origin, despite residing overseas. Additionally, NRNs are granted the right to enter and work in Nepal

Another significant right extended to NRNs is the ability to own property in Nepal Moreover, NRNs are allowed to travel with two passports, a clear departure from the country’s traditional restrictions against dual citizenship.

Non-Resident Nepali Citizenship Restrictions 

NRN citizenship is often referred to as “dormant citizenship“. Despite this status, NRNs can reside, work, and own property in Nepal, meaningfully connecting them to the country.

However, this citizenship status only offers them the full range of rights that come with full Nepali citizenship.

The Democratic Exclusion: Voting and Political Participation

An essential restriction NRNs face is the inability to participate in Nepal’s democratic processes. They are barred from exercising any electoral rights, meaning they do not possess the right to vote in Nepal. This limitation extends to national and local elections, leaving NRNs without a direct say in the country’s democratic decision-making processes.

Furthermore, their dormant citizenship status prohibits them from running for or holding various political positions.

This includes posts in the Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly, Constitutional posts, Rajya Sabha, and Legislative Council. High-level positions, such as the Vice-president, President, and Judge of the Supreme or High Court, are also off-limits for NRNs.

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Why Nepal does not allow dual citizenship 

Navigating the issue of dual citizenship is a complex process for any nation, and Nepal is no exception. The country’s position on dual citizenship is outlined in the Citizenship Act of 2006, which restricts this status.

The Citizenship Act of 2006: A Firm Stance

According to this act, dual citizenship is not permitted in Nepal. The law specifies that Nepali citizens who acquire foreign citizenship will automatically forfeit their Nepali citizenship.

Balancing Loyalty and Security

One of the primary reasons behind Nepal’s restriction on dual citizenship is the desire to ensure the loyalty of its citizens. The government believes that by requiring individuals to choose only one citizenship, it can avoid conflicts of interest and ensure its citizens’ dedication to the country.

Moreover, there are security concerns associated with allowing dual citizenship. Legislators fear that dual citizenship could open the door to potential security risks and illegal activities, including money laundering and terrorism.

Other Nations Sharing Nepal’s Stance

While the question of dual citizenship may seem unique to Nepal, it is worth noting that other nations also share this perspective. These include countries like…

1. Andorra

2. Austria

3. Azerbaijan

4. Bahrain

5. China

6. Djibouti

7. El Salvador

8. Estonia

9. Georgia

10. India

11. Indonesia

12. Japan

13. Kazakhstan

14. Lithuania

15. Malaysia

16. Montenegro

17. Netherlands

18. Norway

19. Poland

20. Saudi Arabia

21. Singapore

22. Slovakia

23. Tanzania

24. Thailand

25. Ukraine

26. United Arab Emirates

27. Venezuela

On a Personal Note:

Nepal has certainly come a long way in embracing dual nationality for citizens in recent years. While some uncertainties remain in implementation, the legal framework exists for Nepalis to hold citizenship of other countries without losing their original link to Nepal.

Dual nationals should take care to properly understand all conditions, benefits, and responsibilities that come with dual status. Consulting with legal experts can help avoid pitfalls. But overall, the door is open for Nepalis worldwide to stay connected to their homeland even as they naturalize and live overseas.

Nepal’s citizenship law is a shining beacon of impartiality and fairness.

1. What is the legal status of dual citizenship in Nepal in 2023?

As per the Citizenship Act of 2006, dual citizenship remains illegal in Nepal in 2023. Anyone found carrying two citizenships will face punitive measures.

2. What is the process to apply for citizenship in Nepal?

The application process for citizenship in Nepal typically involves submitting an application to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Nepal, accompanied by various documents such as proof of identity, proof of residency, and a clean criminal record.

3. Can foreign nationals acquire Nepalese citizenship?

Foreign nationals can acquire Nepalese citizenship, but this is subject to certain conditions including residency requirements, proficiency in the Nepalese language, and giving up any existing citizenship.

4. Can a person of Nepalese origin residing abroad retain their Nepalese citizenship?

People of Nepalese origin residing abroad cannot retain their Nepalese citizenship unless they give up their foreign citizenship.

5. Are there any specific benefits or drawbacks of dual citizenship in Nepal?

Since Nepal doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, a person cannot be a citizen of Nepal and another country at the same time. The benefits or drawbacks would therefore depend on the individual’s circumstances and needs.

6. How does Nepal’s dual citizenship policy compare with other countries?

Compared to other countries that allow dual citizenship, Nepal’s stance is more restrictive. Many countries around the world allow their citizens to hold dual or multiple citizenships.

7. What are the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in Nepal?

Citizens in Nepal have the right to vote, work, and live in Nepal, among other rights. They are also subject to certain responsibilities such as obeying the country’s laws, paying taxes, and serving in the military if required.

8. Can children born to Nepalese parents in a foreign country obtain dual citizenship?

Children born to Nepalese parents in a foreign country would typically be able to acquire citizenship of the country they were born in. However, to acquire Nepalese citizenship, they may have to renounce their foreign citizenship.

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