Citizenship is the status of a person recognized by the law of the state. Citizen is a legal member of a sovereign state. The idea of citizenship has been defined as the capacity of individuals to defend their rights in front of the governmental authority.
According to Aristotle, citizen is he “who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of any state is said by us to be a citizen of that state”. Vattal has defined citizens as, “the members of a civil society bound to this society by certain duties, subject to its authority and equal participants in its advantages”. “Citizenship”, according to Laski, “is the contribution of one’s instructed judgment to the public good”.
On the basis of these definitions we can mention here three important features of a citizen:
(1) The membership of the state.
(2) The social and political rights.
(3) Sentiment of devotion to the state.
There are two primary sources of citizenship:
Birthright in which a person is presumed to be a citizen if he or she was born within the territorial limits and naturalization, a process in which an eligible legal immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted.
Classification of Citizenship
A person can be recognized or granted citizenship on a number of bases. Usually citizenship based on circumstances of birth is automatic, but in other cases an application may be required.
One of the most common paths to citizenship is jus sanguinis, which, from Latin, translates to ‘right of blood’. This describes a person whose parent, grandparent or other ascendant is already a citizen of a specific state separate from the country that the person was born in. In many jurisdictions such as Canada, Israel or Greece, jus sanguinis and jus soli are combined into one model.
Jus soli or ‘right of soil’ generally refers to the instance in which a citizen born within a country is given its citizenship. Sometimes, a person is given automatic citizenship of the state they are born in, however this is not the case everywhere or may be restricted to certain regulations. Jus soli originated from the United Kingdom .
Naturalisation is another common route to acquiring citizenship. This usually applies to those who have entered the country legally, through political asylum or have lawfully lived there for a specific period. For those becoming new citizens, it is customary to take a test demonstrating understanding of the nation’s laws, culture, tradition and language.
Citizenship by investment or Economic Citizenship
Wealthy people invest money in property or businesses, buy government bonds or simply donate cash directly, in exchange for citizenship and a passport.
In the past there have been exclusions on entitlement to citizenship on grounds such as skin colour, ethnicity, sex, and free status (not being a slave). Most of these exclusions no longer apply in most places. Modern examples include some Arab countries which rarely grant citizenship to non-Muslims, e.g. Qatar is known for granting citizenship to foreign athletes, but they all have to profess the Islamic faith in order to receive citizenship.