2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Politics and government

Legal status of Persons

Leave to Remain
Illegal immigration

Legal designations

Native-born citizen
Naturalized citizen
Migrant worker
Illegal immigrant
Political prisoner
Stateless person
( Enemy alien
Enemy combatant
Administrative detainee)

Social politics

Immigration law
Nationality law
Nativism (politics)
Immigration debate
" Second-class citizen"

Citizenship is membership in a political community (originally a city or town but now usually a country) and carries with it rights to political participation; a person having such membership is a citizen. It is largely coterminous with nationality, although it is possible to have a nationality without being a citizen (i.e., be legally subject to a state and entitled to its protection without having rights of political participation in it); it is also possible to have political rights without being a national of a state. In most nations, a non-citzen is a non-national and called either a foreigner or an alien. In the United States, because there is state citizenship, foreign is the legal term for someone not a citizen of the state, and alien is reserved for someone not a citizen of the United States. Thus New York insurance companies are foreign in New Jersey, while a Dutch insurer is alien.

See nationality for further discussion of the properties of national citizenship and how it can be acquired.

Citizenship, which is explained above, is the political rights of an individual within a society. Thus, you can have a citizenship from one country and be a national of another country. One example might be as follows: A Cuban-American might be considered a national of Cuba due to his being born there, but he could also become an American citizen through naturalization. Nationality most often derives from place of birth (i.e. jus soli) and, in some cases, ethnicity (i.e. jus sanguinis). Citizenship derives from a legal relationship with a state. Citizenship can be lost, as in denaturalization, and gained, as in naturalization.

Citizenship often also implies working towards the betterment of one's community through participation, volunteer work, and efforts to improve life for all citizens. This is often referred to as active citizenship. In this vein, schools in England provide lessons in citizenship; in Wales the model used is Personal and Social Education.

Supranational citizenship

In recent years, some intergovernmental organizations have extended the concept and terminology associated with citizenship to the international level, where it is applied to the totality of the citizens of their constituent countries combined. Two examples are given below, of citizenship in the European Union, and also of citizenship within the Commonwealth of Nations. As of 2005, citizenship at this level is a secondary concept, with a weaker status than national citizenship.

The ultimate version of supranational citizenship would be some sort of global citizenship; the United Nations does not represent this concept directly, however, being more of an international forum than a structure for expressing individual rights and responsibilities.

European Union (EU) citizenship

The Maastricht Treaty introduced the concept of citizenship of the European Union. This citizenship flows from national citizenship — one holds the nationality of an EU member state and as a result becomes a "citizen of the Union" in addition.

EU citizenship offers certain rights and privileges within the EU; in many areas EU citizens have the same or similar rights as native citizens in member states. Such rights granted to EU citizens include:

  • freedom of movement and the right of residence within the territory of the Member States;
  • right to vote and stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament and at municipal elections in the Member State of residence;
  • right to diplomatic and consular protection;
  • right of petition to the European Parliament; and
  • right to refer to the Ombudsman.

The right of residence connotes not only the right of abode, but also the right to apply to work in any position (including national civil services with the exception of sensitive positions such as defence).

EU member states also use a common passport design, burgundy coloured, with the name of the member state, national seal, and the title "European Union" (or its translation), and most also use a common format for their driving licences in order to simplify their use within the whole EU.

Commonwealth citizenship

The concept of " Commonwealth Citizenship" has been in place ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth of Nations. As with the EU, one holds Commonwealth citizenship only by being a citizen of a Commonwealth member state. This form of citizenship offers certain privileges within some Commonwealth countries:

  • Some such countries do not require tourist visas of citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
  • In some Commonwealth countries resident citizens of other Commonwealth countries are entitled to political rights, e.g., the right to vote in local and national elections and in some cases even the right to stand for election.
  • In some instances the right to work in any position (including the civil service) is granted, except for certain specific positions (e.g. defence, Governor-General or President, Prime Minister).

Whilst Commonwealth citizenship is sometimes enshrined in the written constitutions (where applicable) of Commonwealth states and is considered by some to be a form of multiple citizenship, there have never been, nor are there any plans for a common passport.

Although the Republic of Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949, it is often treated as if it were a member, with references being made in legal documents to 'the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland', and its citizens are not classified as foreign nationals, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Canada departed from the principle of nationality being defined in terms of allegiance in 1921. In 1935 the Irish Free State was the first to introduce its own citizenship (However, Irish citizens were still treated as subjects of the Crown, and they are still not regarded as foreign, even though Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth; Murray v Parkes [1942] All ER 123).

The Canadian Citizenship Act which came into effect on January 1, 1947 provided for a distinct Canadian Citizenship, automatically conferred upon most individuals born in Canada (with certain exceptions) and defined the conditions under which one could become a naturalized citizen. The concept of Commonwealth citizenship was introduced in 1948 in the British Nationality Act 1948. Other Dominions adopted this principle, in New Zealand, in the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948. Citizenship has replaced allegiance, a more than symbolic change.

The philosopher Karl Marx's 1874 British citizenship document. (Public Record Office).
The philosopher Karl Marx's 1874 British citizenship document. ( Public Record Office).

Subnational citizenship

Citizenship most usually relates to membership of the nation state, but the term can also apply at subnational level. Subnational entities may impose requirements, of residency or otherwise, which permit citizens to participate in the political life of that entity, or to enjoy benefits provided by the government of that entity. But in such cases, those eligible are also sometimes seen as "citizens" of the relevant state, province, or region. An example of this is how the fundamental basis of Swiss citizenship is citizenship of an individual commune, and thus of a canton and of the Confederation.

Honorary citizenship

Some countries extend "honorary citizenship" to those whom they consider to be especially admirable or worthy of the distinction.

By act of United States Congress and presidential assent, honorary United States citizenship has been awarded to only six individuals.

Honorary Canadian citizenship requires the unanimous approval of parliament. The only three people to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship are Raoul Wallenberg posthumously in 1985, Nelson Mandela in 2001 and the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso on June 22, 2006.

In 2002 South Korea awarded honorary citizenship to Dutch football (soccer) coach Guus Hiddink who successfully and unexpectedly took the national team to the semi-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Honourary citizenship was also awarded to Hines Ward, a black Korean American football player, in 2006 for his efforts to minimise discrimination in Korea against half-Koreans.

American actress Angelina Jolie received an honorary Cambodian citizenship in 2005 due to her humanitarian efforts.

Cricketers Matthew Hayden and Herschelle Gibbs were awarded honorary citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis in March 2007 due to their record-breaking innings' in the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Historical citizenship

Historically, many states limited citizenship to only a proportion of their population, thereby creating a citizen class with political rights superior to other sections of the population, but equal with each other. The classical example of a limited citizenry was Athens where slaves, women, and resident foreigners (called metics) were excluded from political rights. The Roman Republic forms another example (see Roman citizenship), and, more recently, the szlachta of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had some of the same characteristics.

Polis citizenship

The first form of citizenship is based on the way people lived in the ancient Greek times, in small-scale organic communities of the polis. In these days citizenship could not be seen as a public matter, separated from the private life of the individual person. The obligations of citizenship where deeply connected into one’s everyday life in the polis. To be truly human, one had to be an active citizen to the community, which Aristotle has famously expressed: “To take no part in the running of the community's affairs is to be either a beast or a god!” This form of citizenship was based on obligations of citizens towards the community, rather than rights given to the citizens of the community. This was not a problem because they all had such a strong affinity with the polis; their own destiny and the destiny of the community were strongly linked. This was not all; citizens of the polis saw the obligations of the community as an opportunity to be virtuous, it was their primary source of honour and respect. In Athens, citizens were both ruler and ruled, important political and judicial offices were rotated and all citizens had the right to speak and vote in the political assembly. An important aspect of polis citizenship was however; the exclusivity. The citizenship in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in cities that practiced citizenship in the Middle Ages, was very exclusive and inequality of status was widely accepted. Those who were citizens had a much higher status than those who could not obtain the status of a citizen, such as women, slaves or ‘barbarians’. Women were considered not to be rationally capable of political participation for example (although some, most prominently Plato, disagreed). There were also other methods used to determine whether someone could be a citizen or not, at certain times this had to do with wealth (the amount of taxes one paid), political participation, heritage (both parents had to be born in the polis). In the times of the Roman Empire the polis citizenship changed its form: the reach of citizenship was expanded from the small scale communities throughout the empire. The Romans found that granting citizenship to people from all over the empire was legitimating for Roman rule over conquered areas. They also found that taxes were more easily collected and the need for expensive military power in those areas with citizenship was reduced. Citizenship during the Roman era was no longer a status of political agency; it had been reduced to a judicial safeguard and the expression of rule and law. After the collapse of the Roman Empire the importance of citizenship became even smaller. During the Middle Ages, the search for personal salvation had replaced the pursuit of honour through the exercise of citizenship. The church has replaced the political community as focus for moral guidance and loyalty.

School Subject

Citizenship education is taught as a major subject of the National Curriculum in English schools. It is compulsory in all state schools. Some state schools offer an examination in this subject, all state schools have a statutory requirement to report student's progress in Citizenship.

Citizenship is not taught as a subject in Scottish schools, however they do teach a subject called "Modern Studies" which covers the same material as Citizenship Studies in the equivalent key stages.

Responsibilities of Citizenship

The duties of responsible citizenship depending on one's country include:

  • paying taxes
  • serving in the country's armed forces when called upon
  • obeying laws enacted by one's government
  • demonstrating commitment and loyalty to the democratic political community and state
  • constructively criticizing the conditions of political and civic life
  • participating to improve the quality of political and civic life
  • respecting the rights of others
  • defending one's own rights and the rights of others against those who would abuse them
  • exercising one's rights

Requirements for Obtaining American Citizenship

US rules for American citizenship dictate that to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, the following specific requirements be satisfied:

The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
The applicant must be a permanent resident. The applicant must reside in the US continuously in the past three months, for at least 30 months in the past five years, without a 12 month absence.
Good Moral Character
The applicant must disclose all relevant facts, including his or her entire criminal history, regardless of whether the criminal history disqualifies the applicant. There are a number of immigration waivers available for individuals who have committed fraud or other crimes.
Attachment to the Constitution
The applicant must show that he or she respects and follows the principles of the US Constitution.
Applicants for naturalization must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language. (Some exemptions apply.)
United States Government and History Knowledge
Knowledge of the US government is examined by the Immigration test provided during the naturalization (citizenship) interview. The new US immigration test was developed to test an applicant’s knowledge of US government and history and the English language through an English sentences test Sample English Sentence List. At minimum, an applicant for naturalization is required by the rules for American citizenship to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States. (Some exemptions apply.)
Oath of Allegiance
The applicant swears to
  • support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.;
  • renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and
  • bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required.
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