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Legislative Naturalization: How to Become a Filipino Citizen

What is the fastest way for a foreigner to become a Filipino citizen? There are several ways a foreigner can attain citizenship, depending on their circumstances. Someone born and raised in the Philippines can attain citizenship through judicial naturalization. Meanwhile, a foreigner of any other circumstance may go through administrative naturalization. However, there are some special cases wherein a foreigner can become a Filipino citizen through legislative naturalization.

Our previous articles have discussed judicial naturalization and administrative naturalization. In the final part of our series about naturalization, we will be discussing legislative naturalization. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Legislative Naturalization?

Legislative naturalization is another way to gain Filipino citizenship. It is a direct grant of citizenship by Congress to qualified foreigners. One can only attain citizenship through legislative naturalization if he or she has made a significant contribution to the country and its people. This is in contrast to judicial and administrative naturalization, which call for the possession of various qualifications. They also require the filing of petitions accompanied by specific requirements, as can be seen in the previous articles.

Qualifications to get Naturalized

If you have read our previous article on judicial and administrative naturalization, these qualifications may look familiar. This is because the modes of acquiring citizenship through naturalization have identical qualifications. However, for legislative naturalization, since citizenship is directly granted by Congress, those qualifications do not need to be strictly met. It is the prerogative of Congress, based on one’s significant contribution to the country, to grant such citizenship. However, nothing bars Congress from using the same qualifications as a guide in granting citizenship, which we will be reproduced here:

  • Is at least twenty-one (21) years old at the date of the hearing of the petition;
  • Has lived in the country for at least ten (10) consecutive years;
  • Is of good moral character, believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and has shown proper and irreproachable conduct during his or her residence in the Philippines towards the government and the community;
  • Owns real estate in the Philippines OR has some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;
  • Knows how to speak English or Spanish, AND any of the principal Philippine languages; and
  • Has enrolled his or her minor children of school age in a recognized school where Philippines history, government, and civics are a part of the school curriculum.

In addition, the ten (10) years of continuous residence required under the second condition can be reduced to five (5) years if the petition has any of the following qualifications:

  • Has honorably held office under the Government of the Philippines;
  • Has established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines;
  • Is married to a Filipino woman;
  • Has been engaged as a teacher in the Philippines in a public or recognized private school for not less than two years, so long as the school is not for the exclusive instruction of children of a particular nationality or race; or
  • Was born in the Philippines.

Process of Achieving Citizenship

Achieving citizenship through legislative naturalization is a process that mirrors that of passing a bill. The process begins with the filing of a bill by a member of one of the two houses of Congress. The two houses of Congress are the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines.

A naturalization bill must undergo three readings in the house of Congress where it originates. For example, if a member of the Senate of the Philippines filed the naturalization bill, the bill must then pass three readings in the Senate. These readings must also all take place on separate days. This process is covered by Section 26, paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution.

If the bill passes all three readings and receives a majority affirmative vote from the members, it will be transmitted to the other house of Congress and undergo the same procedure. For example, if a bill is approved by the Senate of the Philippines, it must then be transferred to the House of Representatives. The bill must also pass all three readings on separate days in the House of Representatives.

If the bill is approved by both houses of Congress, copies of the bill will also be transmitted to the President of the Philippines. If the President approves of and signs the bill, the bill officially becomes a law. 

Once the bill has been approved by the President, all the applicant needs to do is wait for the publication of the naturalization law, take the Oath of Allegiance, and receive the issued Certificate of Naturalization by the Bureau of Immigration. This grants the applicant Filipino citizenship, and he or she will attain the full rights and responsibilities of a Filipino citizen.

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