Obtaining Iraqi citizenship a great challenge for Iranian Kurds
Iraqi government prohibits Iranian Kurds from becoming Iraqi citizens despite lack of any legal obstacles
According to the personal status law of Iraq, anyone who resides in Iraq for a period of 10 years or more, is entitled to become an Iraqi citizen regardless of his/her nationality. However, the central government of Iraq is hindering applications for Iraqi citizenship by Iranian Kurdish nationals who have lived in Iraq for the eligible period.
Some Iranian Kurds residing in Kurdistan Region argue they have tried hard to obtain Iraqi citizenship but their applications are be- ing rejected or put on hold in Baghdad, and they ask Kurdistan Regional Government to help them facilitate the process.
As per the personal status law, the issue of citizenship is centralized and the KRG can neither provide any assistance, nor issue and amend any of the procedures for granting citizenship to Iranian Kurds.
Currently the KRG issues a residency permit to any foreigners who enter Kurdistan and want to stay there. There are different types of residency permit ranging from three months to six months and one year.
Foreigners, who reside in Kurdistan due to political reasons, get a three month or six month permit depending on whether they are single or married.
Soran Ismaeli, an Iranian Kurdish national who has been residing in Sulaimaniya for 14 years now, describes how he is required to visit the residency office every six month to extend his permit.
“I have applied several times for an Iraqi citizenship, but all my applications have been rejected,” Ismaeli told the Kurdish Globe. “None of my children have Iraqi citizenship either.”
Although, hundreds of applications were submitted to the Sulaimaniya Directorate of Citizenship and Civil Status for Iraqi citizenship by Iranian Kurds during the year 2012, only 28 citizenship certificates have been issued during the year.
Brigadier General Mohammed Saeed, Sulaimaniya Citizenship and Civil Status Director, told the Globe that anyone who submits a complete application and has all the legal require- ments, he or she would get a citizenship certificate.
“There are a lot of conditions and regulations for this and they need to be amended to facilitate the process of obtaining a citizenship certificate,” argued B.G. Saeed.
Advocate and legal expert Kawa Qadir, who works as a lawyer at the Sulaimaniya Court, believes that granting Iraqi citizenship to Iranian Kurds is more of a political issue rather than a legal issue.
“The Iraqi government is concerned about the increase in the number of Kurds, which will have an impact on both the elections and the general census that the Iraqi government has been delaying for eight years now under different justifications,” Advocate Qadir told the Globe.
A hand raises an Iraqi passport in front of a crowd of Iraqis.