National Assembly approves amendment to Seychelles Citizenship Act

Fonseka said that one of the benefits of being a Seychellois citizen is being the holder of a very strong passport ranked number one in Africa with free entry visas in various countries. (Seychelles Nation)

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The Seychelles National Assembly on Tuesday approved a proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to make adjustments to the conditions required for gaining Seychellois citizenship by naturalisation and registration.

Twenty-two members voted for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2023, presented by Errol Fonseka, the Minister for Internal Affairs.

“Citizenship is a very sacred privilege and Seychellois citizenship is very precious with all the benefits it brings such as voting rights, free healthcare and education, government land, and a holder of a very strong passport ranked number one in Africa with free entry visas in various countries. This is the value of the document we are discussing today,” he said.

Fonseka said, “To allow us to better face the reality of a globalised world and to respond to a call for more transparency and prepare Seychelles to better benefit from opportunities that the new century promises we are making propositions to amend the Citizenship Act.”

He noted that such revision of the Citizenship Act since at the adoption of the Constitution of the Third Republic was done in 2013.

He said that under registration for citizenship under 5 (1) the new provisions demand that people who have given an exceptional service or made commendable actions will have the possibility of becoming a Seychellois citizen. This will be done through the recommendation that the Citizenship Committee will submit to the President.

Fonseka said that the President, however, always has the veto right to reject the recommendation.

A major change to the Citizenship Act under 5 (1) is that the President will no longer have the discretionary power to give Seychellois citizenship under this provision.

“Since October 2020, no foreigners have received Seychellois citizenship under 5 (1) and with the amendment being proposed only the committee will have the right to do it,” Fonseka stressed.

Additionally, the new conditions that were added to the Act in 2013 under special criteria to allow students, investors, and priority workers to get Seychellois citizenship will be abolished.

Fonseka said a new provision will be made under section 5 (3).

“It will allow a foreigner the ability to apply for Seychellois citizenship if the person’s Seychellois partner died during the marriage. This includes conditions such as if when the application was submitted the applicant would have celebrated 15 years if the Seychellois partner was alive and if the foreigner has not remarried,” he explained.

The minister said that under naturalisation for a foreigner married to a Seychellois under section 6 of the Citizenship Act, the marriage has to last for 10 years and that the foreigner must have lived in Seychelles for at least 5 years.

“The new criteria require that the marriage last for 15 years and that the foreigner lives in Seychelles for at least two years,” he said.  

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