Iceland's Justice Minister Seeks To End Parliament Granting Citizenship - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Justice Minister Seeks To End Parliament Granting Citizenship

Published February 21, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Aron Urb/Wikimedia Commons

Minister of Justice Sigríður Andersen has proposed that the granting of citizenship be put solely in the hands of the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL). A draft of a bill to that effect would also make changes to how fines and prison time affects when one can apply for citizenship.

As it stands now, a rejection for one’s application for citizenship can be appealed to Parliament, who typically vote on the matter twice a year. If this draft becomes a bill that is subsequently voted into law, it would make ÚTL the sole arbiter of granting citizenship.

Other changes to citizenship requirements are included in this draft. Amongst them is that a foreigner married to an Icelander would need to wait four years instead of three before they could apply for citizenship. There are also changes regarding what effects fines or prison sentences have on filing an application.

If passed into law, any fine under 80,000 ISK—such as in traffic offences, for example—would have no effect on one’s application. Fines of larger amounts will mean having to wait anywhere from one to five years before one could apply for citizenship. In addition, prison time—starting with sentences under six months and up to five years—would mean waiting for six to 14 years before eligibility for applying for citizenship could begin. Probationary sentences, however, would only mean a wait from one to three years.

When this draft is ready to be a bill, it will first go to the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee and, as Vísir reports, not every member of that committee is on board with removing Parliament’s ability to grant citizenship. Left-Green MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson, for example, told reporters that he believes it important that this process continues to exist, given that applicants can come from various backgrounds and circumstances.

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