Anyone who has holidayed in a country that requires a visa, permit or other travel document knows that border control can be a headache – and that’s just for tourists! Some countries make it almost impossible for anyone other than the children of parents born within their borders to become citizens, and gaining citizenship in any other way is like hitting the jackpot playing pokies.
Those nations’ positions may seem extreme, but if you look at their citizens’ standards of living, they generally rank among the highest in the world. Let’s take a look at the countries that are almost impossible to become citizens of, and how you can go about it.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is tucked away in the eastern Himalayas, and it has a population of roughly 741,700. You can apply for naturalisation only after having lived there for two decades.
The People’s Republic of China had a population of approximately 1.404 billion in 2017. The basic requirement to apply for citizenship in the East Asian country is to have a Chinese relative who lives there.
The Vatican City is surrounded entirely by the city of Rome, Italy. It has an estimated population of 1000. You can apply for citizenship if you are employed as a church worker or official, if you a cardinal based in Rome, or if you are part of the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.
Qatar had an estimated total population of 2.6 million in 2017. However, only 313,000 of those people are Qatari citizens. The law allows 100 expatriates per year to receive permanent residency. You need to have lived there for 20 years before you can even apply, making citizenship incredibly tough, and a lengthy process.
The Principality of Liechtenstein is in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland. It has a population of 38,547. The law stipulates that would-be citizens need to have lived there for 30 years. However, residents in your municipality may vote for you to become a citizen after 10 years. If you are married to a citizen, you can apply for citizenship after five years of marriage.
United Arab Emirates
If you are from another Arab country, you will need to have lived in the United Arab Emirates for seven years before you can apply for citizenship. If you are from any other country, you will need to have lived in there for 30 years. The 2013 population of the country on the Arabian Peninsula was estimated at 9.2 million, of whom 1.4 million were Emirati citizens.
Bordered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, Kuwait’s population in 2016 was approximately 4.5 million, of whom 1.3 million are Kuwaiti citizens. If you are a citizen of another Arab country, you need to have lived there for 15 years. If not, you need to have lived there for 20 years, and you need to be a practising Muslim.
Switzerland is regarded as the place where central, southern, and western Europe meets. Estimates put the 2019 population at 8,570,146. To become a citizen, you need to have a C-permit work permit, and to have lived there for 10 years. If you are an EU national, a Canadian or a US citizen, or from a European Free Trade Association country, you need to have live there for 5 years.
The Easiest Countries
Some countries make immigration easy. Mexico allows people to apply for citizenship after living there for five years or, if you meet certain conditions, less. Canada also requires that you live there for five years, that you meet tax requirements, and that you know the country’s history. Ireland has accommodating laws that offer citizenship through ancestry. Paraguay requires that you live there for three years and contribute to the country’s development, and Israel requires you to be Jewish and to have lived there for between three and five years, so if you’re looking at moving, these may be better options!