Countries that grant citizenship to those born there

If you could be born again, where would you like to be born? Although the question seems quite irrelevant to some, a large part of the world population would have a clear answer, and it would certainly not be what they call their home country.
Differences in rights and opportunities can greatly depend on one's nationality. The price of a visa, the right to work in another country, or the right to enter in the first place may be different from one person to another, based on the citizenship written in the passport.
There are several ways to gain the citizenship one desires. Maybe the easiest way is by being born in the country of choice, considering your parents have chosen for you. Citizenship upon birth is a right that is also known as 'jus soli', which is Latin for 'right of soil'.
According to a report by the Center of Immigration Studies in 2010, there are 30 countries around the world offering citizenship upon birth. In practice, this means that citizenship is granted to an otherwise stateless person who is born on a particular territory, or on a ship or plane flagged by that country.Although most countries adopted the law to accommodate immigrants that had already settled in the country, it has become a popular tool among foreign nationals who wish to grant their child a better future in the form of a different nationality.
Most popular countries practicing this right are the United States and Canada, explained Jorawar Singh, General Manager at WWICS. Other than the North American countries, most countries in South America practice the same right, although no European country is known to apply such law. Further east, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Cambodia grant citizenship upon birth.
"This is mostly done by nationals that have had disturbances in their own country, such as Pakistan and Syria. They want to secure a better future for their children. We have a couple of clients who have enjoyed this right."It is very easy; once a child is born there citizenship will automatically be granted. There is no doubt about that, it is the law," he added.
Although citizenship is assured, there are some hurdles along the way, he continues. "Medical procedures will not be covered, so the couple ends up paying the full amount of the delivery procedure. This usually costs a huge amount of money."
There is an ethical consideration too, Jorawar believes. "When these people apply for a visa, they do not disclose the pregnancy. When they are asked for the purpose of their visit, they will come up with other reasons. This is somehow not right."
The Center for Immigration Studies claims that up to 400,000 children are born annually to illegal immigrants in the US, representing about 10 percent of all children born in the country. Like Jorawar, many consider this misuse of the law, and suggest abolishment of jus soli.

In response to the high number of child births from foreign nationals, some countries that previously practiced jus soli have adjusted the law, setting requirements for the child to become a citizen.
Called lex soli, common requirements are that at least one parent is a citizen or permanent resident to the country, or was born in the same country.
Some European countries apply such rules, such as the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, as well as Australia and New Zealand, among others.

Other countries have abolished birth upon citizenship altogether in response to what is considered misuse. One such example is India, which abolished the law in 2004 in reaction to illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
However, as long as the right exists, there is little that can go wrong, suggests Jorawar. "Governments are lenient towards this practice right now. Once the citizenship is granted, it will not be reversed."The following countries offer jus soli: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, Al Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala,  Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 

[Image via Shutterstock]

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