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Laos: Special Citizenship Policy Being Considered

(Sept. 6, 2017) It was reported on July 21, 2017, that the Ministry of Justice of Laos has drafted legislation that would amend the Law on Lao Nationality to provide more favorable conditions for qualified foreign experts and other foreigners who seek Lao citizenship.  (Laos Considers Special Policy for Citizenship Granting, XINHUANET (July 21, 2017).)

Under the current Law on Lao Nationality (and also the amended draft of the Law), in general foreign nationals must have stayed in Laos legally for at least ten consecutive years before being permitted to apply for Lao nationality.  (Id.; Decree of the President of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on the Promulgation of the Law on Lao Nationality, No. 35/PO (in force on June 15, 2004), arts. 7 & 14, VIENTIANE TIMES.)

The amended draft debated at an extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet in mid-July considered a proposal that the period of required residence would be halved, to five years, “for foreign experts and foreigners who have played a good role in the Lao revolutionary task for national liberation and development process.”  (Laos Considers Special Policy for Citizenship Granting, supra.)

A Ministry of Justice official involved in the drafting process was quoted as saying that public opinion and the response of different sectors of society to the revised draft is being sought prior to submitting the draft law to the National Assembly in October for debate and approval.  (Id.)