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Egypt: President Ratifies Law Amending Residency and Citizenship Laws

(Aug. 27, 2018) On August 14, 2018, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified Law No. 173 of 2018, which allows foreign nationals who deposit at least 7 million Egyptian pounds (EGP) (about US$391,000) in local Egyptian banks to be granted a five-year residency and the opportunity to apply for Egyptian citizenship. (Law No. 173 Amending Law No. 26 of 1975 and Law No. 89 of 1960, AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], vol. 32 (Duplicate (b)), 14 Aug. 2018 (in Arabic).)

Law No. 173 amends Law No. 26 of 1975 on Citizenship and Law No. 89 of 1960 on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners. Article 1 of the new Law amends article 17 of Law No. 89, which regulates the residency of foreigners. (Id. art. 1.) The new law also adds a new category of residency for foreigners, called “deposit residency.” In addition, article 2 of Law No. 173 adds a new article (article 20 duplicate) to Law No. 89, which stipulates that foreigners who deposit at least EGP7 million or the equivalent in foreign currency at a state-run Egyptian bank are eligible to apply for a new type of residency permit. (Id. art. 2.)

Article 3 of Law No. 173 adds article 4 duplicate to Law No. 26 of 1975. Article 4 duplicate provides that Egyptian citizenship may be granted to all foreigners who have lived in Egypt under a “deposit residency” for at least five consecutive years prior to applying for Egyptian citizenship. Those foreigners must also meet all other requirements of citizenship under Law No. 26. (Id. art. 3.)

According to a report issued by Parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, the new amendments target foreign investors as part of Egypt’s efforts to boost foreign direct investment in the country. They are also aimed at strengthening investors’ confidence that they would be investing their money in a stable environment. The Committee’s head, General Kamal Amer, said foreigners’ spouses and children would not be eligible for citizenship unless they resided in the country. (Ayat al-Tawy, Q&A: Egypt’s New “Deposit Residency” Option for Foreigners Seeking Citizenship, AHRAM ONLINE (July 17, 2018).) MP Mohamed al-Sewedy, a supporter of the new Law, has declared that, while the Law is critical for investment and enables investors to come to Egypt, the withdrawal of citizenship would be possible in the event that the naturalized citizen violated the conditions described in the citizenship law. (Mostafa Mohie and Rania al-Abd, LE7 Million Price Tag for Egyptian Citizenship, MADA (July 25, 2018).)

On the other hand, some members of Parliament oppose the new Law, among them Mostafa Bakry, who warned that the Law might be a means by which naturalized individuals could infiltrate the military, thereby compromising national security, a claim that General Amer dismissed as groundless because “enlistment in the Armed Forces requires careful screening.” (Id.)