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Immigration finalises dual citizenship law guidelines

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By Patience Lunda:

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has said it will start receiving and processing applications for dual citizenship following the finalisation of guidelines it was developing.

The guidelines are key to the operationalisation of the dual citizenship law in the country.

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The law was passed in 2019 by Parliament, with dual citizenship regulations being gazetted in November 2021.

Department spokesperson Wellington Chiponde said only those who are Malawians by birth or descent would be qualified to acquire dual citizenship.

Chiponde added that the process had taken some time because the department wanted to develop guidelines for implementation of provisions of the Act.

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“Malawians were compelled to forfeit the citizenship of the country because of the old law but they will not be restricted now because of the new law and they will be able to do things they were failing to do before,” he said.

Security expert Aubrey Kabisala said dual citizenship would help Malawians in the diaspora take part in development activities back home.

However, Kabisala noted that the Malawi Government adopted the Malawi National Diaspora Engagement Policy in 2017 in order to provide a framework for its interactions with Malawians in the diaspora but its implementation has been a challenge.

“The issue of dual citizenship was captured in the Malawi National Diaspora Engagement Policy but it has taken years to implement it and this shows lack of seriousness on part of the government because Malawians in the diaspora are key to the development of the country,” he said.

The dual citizenship law would see interested Malawians in the diaspora being regarded as citizens of two countries while the old law only permitted Malawians under the age of 22 to have dual citizenship.

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