Migrants to wait longer for citizenship

Interior Ministry officials are next month expected to submit to Parliament a revised version of a controversial citizenship law for migrants, passed two years ago by the then socialist government, making naturalization harder for immigrants to attain.

According to sources, the goal of the revision is to bring policy into line with laws in other southern European countries that also have growing immigrant populations.

The original 2010 law allows second-generation immigrants whose parents have been living in Greece legally for at least five years to apply for citizenship. According to the proposed revision, this period of time would be extended to eight or 10 years.

Another reform in the works would grant citizenship to immigrants who have graduated from a Greek secondary school and secured a place at a state university or college. ?When a young person has demonstrated an interest in our language, culture and in Greek education, we are obliged to acknowledge this,? Alternate Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou told Kathimerini.

On the other hand, the number of years that second-generation immigrants must study at a Greek school to secure citizenship will increase to nine years, from the current six, according to the revised law.

Also, migrants aged over 18 residing legally in Greece will have to wait 10 years before acquiring citizenship compared to the current seven years.

According to ministry statistics, 54,968 immigrants were granted citizenship between 2000 and 2011. But the majority — 43,060 — were ethnic Greeks from Albania.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called several times for the repeal of the 2010 citizenship law, calling it a magnet for undocumented migrants.