Becoming Russian – Moscow To Permit Dual Nationality For The First Time

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Russian lawmakers from both houses of parliament passed legislation on April 17 allowing dual Russian citizenship for foreigners, sending it to President Vladimir Putin’s desk less than two weeks after introducing it. Lawmakers have described the amendments to Russia’s citizenship law, which among other steps annuls a requirement to renounce one’s existing citizenship, as “revolutionary.” Russian legislators expect 10 million people, primarily from Russian-speaking populations in the former Soviet republics, to obtain Russian passports as the country tries to fix its population demographic – citizenship fell to its lowest level in a decade last year.

Russia’s overall population was estimated to 146.7 million in September last year, according to the State Statistics Service Rosstat. While migrant inflows had offset its natural population decline in previous years, in 2018, Russia’s total population dropped for the first time in a eleven years as migration numbers hit record lows.

The bill relaxing current citizenship rules passed the lower-house State Duma unanimously in a 302-0 vote in a rare session Friday. The Duma usually convenes between Tuesday and Thursday. Russia’s upper-house Federation Council, which traditionally gathers once a week on a Wednesday, passed the bill shortly after.

Both votes took place within 10 days since the Russian government submitted the legislation for consideration. Russia’s dual citizenship bill will become law 90 days after Putin signs it and Russia’s official gazette publishes it.

The bill also exempts spouses and children of Russian nationals from the five-year continuous residence requirement in order to become a naturalized Russian.

Russia’s migration policy guidelines for 2019-2025 state there should be clear and simple conditions for acquiring Russian citizenship. Last year, Russia expanded the list of people eligible for fast-tracked passports to include residents of separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

While many countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia  permit dual nationality, many others do not. An interactive map showing countries permitting dual citizenship can be found here.

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