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The Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu supported the Bill that would make it easier for persons under 15 years of age and over 65 years of age to get the citizenship of Estonia, and expand the circle of persons under 18 years of age who have the right to hold dual citizenship.

“The planned amendments concern a small target group, but will have a very significant impact on that target group,” the Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Rait Maruste said.

Pursuant to the Citizenship Act currently in force, minors under 15 years of age who were born in Estonia are granted Estonian citizenship by naturalisation if their parents apply for it, provided the parents have lawfully resided in Estonia for at least five years at the time of submission of the application and are not recognised by any other state to be citizens of that state in accordance with the legislation in force.

The amendment provides that such minors will be granted Estonian citizenship automatically from the moment of birth, except in the cases their parents submit an application for not being granted the citizenship. As a result of the amendment, Estonian citizenship would be granted also to the children who might be deprived of it due to the inactivity of their parents.

Regarding the persons over 65 years of age, the Bill will make getting citizenship easier for them by abolishing, in their case, the requirement to pass the written part of the language examination for persons who want to acquire Estonian citizenship; they only have to take the oral examination.

The Bill also provides extending the right to hold dual citizenship for persons under 18 years of age. According to the current Citizenship Act, Estonian citizens may not simultaneously hold the citizenship of another state, and if they do, the Police and Border Guard Board starts the proceedings for loss of Estonian citizenship. Children who have acquired the citizenship of two states by birth are an exception, they have to renounce either their Estonian citizenship or the citizenship of the other state within three years after attaining the age of 18 years. 

According to the amendment, besides the children who have acquired dual citizenship by birth, the children who have gotten Estonian citizenship by naturalisation and have in addition to that acquired the citizenship of another state would also have the right to keep dual citizenship. At the same time they, too, must renounce either their Estonian citizenship or their citizenship of the other state within three years after attaining the age of 18 years.

Member of the Constitutional Committee Jaak Aaviksoo said the proposed amendments would slacken the Estonian citizenship policy. “I cannot agree to such fundamental changes in citizenship policy,” he said.

With six votes for and two against, the Constitutional Committee sent the Bill on Amendments to the Citizenship Act and the State Fees Act (737 SE), initiated by the Government, to the first reading at the 12 November sitting of the Riigikogu.