27 August 2008

Embassy of Armenia in Abu Dhabi starts accepting citizenship applications

Consul Marat Melikian
Consul Marat Melikian
Azad-Hye Special

In 2007 the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia was amended and appropriate legislation was passed allowing dual citizenship, thus paving the road in front of the Diaspora Armenians for acquiring Armenian citizenship. Until then, Chapter 1 of the Law of the Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia, which was signed in 1995 by President Levon Ter Petrossian, stated clearly, "a citizen of the Republic of Armenia may not be a citizen of another country at the same time".

Following the adopted changes, thousands of future citizens have already filed for the Armenian citizenship. Under this legislation, persons of Armenian descent who live in foreign countries can file for the Armenian citizenship through the Embassies, while the procedure takes no more than a year.

The Consular Office of the Embassy of Armenia in Abu Dhabi has taken all measures to accept citizenship applications. Questions such as how to apply, what documents are needed, how the applications will be processed, are all clearly answered by the Embassy staff. Already, in the past few months Ambassador Vahagn Melikian met with the Armenian Community members in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait, in three separate occasions, providing extensive explanations about the procedures involved in the process of applying for the citizenship. This was a great encouragement for the community members. It also helped them to benefit from their summer vacations in order to secure official documents from their original countries, required for the citizenship process. It is expected that after the summer vacations considerable number of Armenians will be applying for the citizenship through the Abu Dhabi Embassy.

"Dual citizenship is an important mechanism that is further bringing together the Homeland and the Diaspora. We are ready in the Consulate to provide every single detail and assistance that will make the applying for Armenian citizenship a memorable event for all those who have the will to start a new kind of relationship with Armenia, based on full citizenship, with all accruing rights and duties", said Marat Melikian, Consul in Abu Dhabi. 

Information about the documents required to apply for the Armenian citizenship and the application form are available below.

Until recently the Diaspora Armenians were granted Special Residency Status in the form of Special Armenian Passports. This enabled them to travel into Armenia without visa. In Armenia they enjoyed the full protection of the law, as well as the rights and obligations of Armenian citizens, except for the right to vote and to run for office, enroll in political organizations or serve in the army.

The new law will create new waves of Armenians heading toward Armenia. Thus, the law will have far-reaching positive results. A dual citizen will have all the rights of an Armenian citizen except running for the presidency or for a seat in the National Assembly. That does not mean dual citizens will never be able to serve in those posts. After living in Armenia for 10 years, they may give up their other citizenship and receive full rights.

As far as the Armenian government is concerned, dual citizens are first and foremost citizens of Armenia. They have the same duties toward the country as any Armenian citizen would. That includes serving in the military, except for those who have served in another army for 12 months and those who have passed the age of 27. 

Dual citizens will be completely under the jurisdiction of the Armenian government. This means that the Armenian authorities will consider them as Armenian citizens and they will not be able to ask for trial under foreign penal codes.

On of the issues that needs to be looked into is paying taxation. International tax agreements between Armenia and other countries will ensure that the individual does not pay the same tax twice in two separate countries.

The introduction of dual citizenship in Armenia will certainly encourage investments in the long run. It is a completely different thing to be a citizen enjoying full participation in the civil, political and other aspects of the country, than feeling a kind of vague moral obligation towards it.

Although this new law came too late (it was first discussed in 1991), however it will be a good opportunity to provide Armenia with the means of development and further progress. The authorities in Armenia were hesitant in the past and they opposed to the concept of dual citizenship fearing that new citizens will have significant influence on the voting scene in Armenia. With the gradual advent of the new law, especially after having a five year term secured to President Serzh Sargsyan, the new citizens of Armenia will not create any political imbalance in the country and by the time the next Presidential elections are due, the new voters will be integrated in the mainstream politics and will not create any accumulative advantage in favor of any particular political party.

It is far from reality that all of the Armenians will be involved in the citizenship acquiring process. Those who are most likely to apply for the citizenship are in fact those who left Armenia in the last two decades (especially after the 1995 law) and have subsequently adopted the citizenship of their new environments. The majority of these people have members of their families back in Armenia and they continue to maintain plots of land or property there. Their number is not less than 700,000 and they currently live in three major locations: Russia, the United States and Europe.

The second group of Diaspora Armenians who will be inclined to ask for Armenian citizenship are the Armenians of neighboring countries, such as Georgia (a drive that is escalated after the recent clashes between Georgia and Russia), Iran and Middle Eastern Arab countries. Armenia is considered a better economic and social environment for these Armenians compared to their present host countries. Especially the potential of Armenia is considered brighter than the politically and economically unstable Middle East countries, although at present there are many similarities between these countries and Armenia. A third and smaller wave of Armenians could be those currently residing in the United States, Canada and Europe for a long time, but who have maintained ties with the motherland and are engaged in charity work or have already established their businesses in Armenia.

Thus, the practice of dual citizenship will attract more Diaspora Armenians back to Armenia and encourage them to invest more there. This can lead to a rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Armenia, as more Diaspora Armenians will feel secure about their investments or property acquisitions there. Eventually, Diaspora Armenians will be more active participants in the social and political life in Armenia.

Questions and Answers:
If someone has a valid Special Residency Status for 10 year term, can he/she still apply for Citizenship?
Yes, he/she can still apply for the full citizenship. When the full citizenship is eventually granted, the Special Residency Status will stop being useful for the same person.
What are the documents required for applying the citizenship?
Diaspora Armenians need to secure the following documents for their applications:
Note: The documents either should be in Armenian or translated into Armenian language.
1- Handwritten request addressed to the President of the Republic of Armenia H.E. Serzh Sargsyan, signed by the applicant himself/herself, where explicit desire is expressed in applying for the citizenship, with a brief note about the reasons and motivation behind it.
2- Application form (PDF format, in Armenian language)
3- Self described biography (composition style). 
4- Original passport and copy of it (additionally, copy of the Special Residency Status / Special Armenian Passport should be provided, if applicable). Those who do not have proper passports need to provide copy of their travel document or certificate of non-citizenship (e.g. for Armenians who have Palestinian Travel Document).
5- Six photos of the following size: 35X45mm
6- General health certificate: issued by a general practitioner or a clinic, describing the physical fitness of the applicant. 
7- Police clearance certificate (penal record) related to the countries where the person has lived in the past ten years, including the penal record of the passport holding country. 
8- Employment letter issued by the current employer. Not applicable for housewives.    
9- Birth certificate (Or excerpt of civil registry from Syria or excerpt of ID card from Iraq).
10- A document that proves the Armenian ancestry of the individual. This can be a individual baptism certificate from an Armenian Church or birth certificate of first-degree relative (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters) or any other document that proves the ethnic origin.
11- Military service proof for male applicants.
12- Questionnaire-test about the Armenian Constitution (30 questions, 4 pages). The test is simple and most answers are in the form of logical multiple choices. The text of the questionnaire is available here.
Other categories such as those married to citizens of Armenia or those who possessed in the past Armenian citizenship and failed to keep it because dual citizenship was not allowed, are required to provide fewer documents. Check with the Consulate to know the exact requirements for each case.
In one-year time, the individual whose application is accepted will be required to travel to Armenia and attend the ceremony of granting the citizenship.

Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Abu DhabiH.E. Gegham Gharibjanian, Ambassador
Honorable Marat Melikian, ConsulTel: +971 2 4444196 (Consular office: +971 2 4444128)
Fax: (971 2) 4444197
P.O. Box 6358, The Diplomatic Quarter, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia
Any individual 18 years of older has the right to apply for Armenian citizenship, regardless of ethnic origin.
The terms of acquiring Armenian citizenship are defined according to the Governmental Decision number 1390-N issued on 23 November 2007 based on the "Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia" adopted on 06 November 1995 as amended by Law number 75-N. / 27 February 2007.
The law deals with acquisition and cessation of the citizenship of Armenia, citizenship of a child in case of changing of citizenship by the parents and in case of adoption. It clarifies the bodies regulating the citizenship and the procedure for cases relating to citizenship in general. See copy of the law in English (PDF format, 7 pages) here.
General requirements for acquiring citizenship of Armenia include: legal residence in Armenia for the last 3 years, good knowledge of Armenian language and basic acquaintance with the Constitution.
For people of Armenian origin there is a simplified method of acquiring the citizenship without the requirement of legal residence in Armenia or knowledge of Armenian. This applies also to spouses of Armenian citizens. The process for the simplified method of acquiring the citizenship lasts maximum one year.

In all cases, citizenship of Armenia is awarded upon a decree of the President of Armenia.
See below the chart for the steps of acquiring citizenship.
For any additional information you can contact the nearest diplomatic or consular representation of the Republic of Armenia. See the list of Armenian diplomatic representations abroad.
For consular issues (including citizenship) you can also contact the Mr Karen Gevorgyan, Attaché at the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Armenia using the following email:

Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia: www.mfa.am
Read here interview with the Consul of Armenia in UAE and replies to inquiries related to the citizenship issues.

No comments: