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18 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023

In this article, we will list and explore the 18 hardest countries to get citizenship in 2023. You can skip our detailed analysis and go directly to the top 5 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023.

Obtaining citizenship in certain countries poses significant challenges due to a combination of stringent requirements, lengthy residency obligations, and limited dual citizenship allowances. Many nations enforce high financial investments or contributions as part of their citizenship programs, deterring potential applicants.

Moreover, cultural and language proficiency requirements further complicate the process, while selective naturalization policies impose strict criteria for eligibility. Political, socioeconomic, and geopolitical factors also heavily influence the ease of acquiring citizenship, often resulting in legal and administrative hurdles for applicants. These complexities stem from a country's immigration policies, which undergo changes impacting citizenship accessibility.

Rationale Behind Rigorous Citizenship Criteria

Unauthorized and illegal immigrants can strain public resources such as healthcare, education, and social welfare programs in countries. To address this, most nations have stringent citizenship criteria. These criteria aim to protect national security, ensure economic stability, and foster social cohesion. They involve extensive background checks to assess an individual's potential contributions to the country's economy and society.

Additionally, requirements such as language proficiency and cultural knowledge assist in integrating newcomers while preserving the country's cultural identity. Citizenship criteria are influenced by limited resources, historical contexts, geopolitical concerns, and political factors. Nations aim to manage population growth, protect their identities, and respond to changing global migration patterns. In essence, these criteria strike a balance between safeguarding national interests and embracing individuals capable of enriching society.

The Migration Policy Institute's September data indicates a rise in the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population from 11.0 million in 2019 to 11.2 million in 2021. This increase marks the largest annual growth since 2015, despite public expectations fueled by images of border chaos. However, these 2021 figures do not encompass the record-high border encounters witnessed in 2022 amidst the ongoing global mobility limitations due to COVID-19.

ICMPD Migration Outlook 2023 report notes that between January and December of 2022, Frontex, the agency responsible for guarding the external borders of the European Union (EU), documented a total of 327,131 instances of unauthorized border crossings. This marks the highest recorded number since 2016. The increase represents a substantial surge of 64% when compared to the figures from 2021. Moreover, it reflects a striking rise of 162% in contrast to the numbers reported at the end of 2020. It's important to note that the latter year witnessed constrained mobility due to Covid-19 containment measures, affecting various forms of movement, including irregular migration. However, despite these significant increases, the apprehension figures remained notably lower than those observed during the peak of the "refugee crisis" in previous years, such as 1.3 million in 2015 and 511,000 in 2016. You can also take a look at the most challenging European countries for citizenship.

Business in Europe

Securing citizenship in European nations poses notable difficulties owing to rigorous criteria and intricate procedures. Nonetheless, the continent hosts thriving industries including technology, automotive, and healthcare. Major companies such as Stellantis N.V. (NYSE:STLA), Logitech International S.A. (NASDAQ:LOGI), and Genmab A/S (NASDAQ:GMAB) are prominent players in these sectors, making substantial contributions to Europe's economy. Let's take a look at recent business updates from these companies.

On November 23, Stellantis N.V. (NYSE:STLA) introduced the SUSTAINera Circular Economy Hub (CE Hub) located at the Mirafiori Complex in Turin, Italy. The company has implemented a comprehensive strategy aimed at advancing its Circular Economy objectives through a multifaceted approach based on the principles of the 4R strategy: Reman, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle. The primary goal of this state-of-the-art Circular Economy Hub is to prolong the lifespan of parts and vehicles, ensuring their sustained functionality for as long as possible. Once their utility reaches its end, materials are gathered for recycling, sourced from both the remanufacturing process and end-of-life vehicle dismantling. Stellantis N.V. (NYSE:STLA) recycles these materials and subsequently reintroduces them into the manufacturing cycle to create new vehicles and parts.

On October 16, Logitech International S.A. (NASDAQ:LOGI) launched Zone Wireless 2, a premium business headset engineered to offer exceptional two-way noise-free calling experiences through advanced AI technology. The headset incorporates AI far-end noise suppression, noise-canceling microphones, hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and personalized stereo sound, ensuring optimal clarity for business professionals during calls and meetings. Zone Wireless 2 stands as Logitech International S.A.'s (NASDAQ:LOGI) AI-powered headset specifically designed to facilitate seamless, noise-free communication in both directions. Logitech International S.A. (NASDAQ:LOGI) continues to exemplify innovation through groundbreaking technologies, setting new standards in communication and productivity across global industries.

On November 27, Bloomberg reported that Genmab A/S (NASDAQ:GMAB) announced pivotal regulatory milestones pertaining to epcoritamab, an investigational T-cell engaging bispecific antibody administered subcutaneously. The U.S. FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) to epcoritamab-bysp for treating adult patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) follicular lymphoma (FL) after receiving two or more lines of systemic therapy. BTD is a designation intended to facilitate the development and review of investigational medicines by the U.S. FDA, particularly for severe or life-threatening diseases, when preliminary clinical evidence indicates that a therapy could offer substantial improvements over existing treatments. Furthermore, the EMA has validated a Type II variation application for epcoritamab for the same indication. EMA validation signifies that the application is comprehensive and initiates the scientific review process conducted by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). If approved, R/R FL would become the second conditionally approved indication for epcoritamab within the European Union.

Let's now take a look at the hardest countries to get citizenship in, in 2023.

18 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023
18 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023


To determine the 18 Hardest Countries to Obtain Citizenship in 2023, we relied on the access to nationality rankings from MIPEX 2020 as the primary measure. This ranking system reflects the difficulty of acquiring citizenship, with lower rankings indicating greater obstacles. In cases of ties, we used prerequisite residency timelines as a secondary metric to differentiate rankings.

Note: North Macedonia was omitted from our list of hardest countries to get citizenship because of the accessibility of its Citizenship by Investment program with a significantly lesser amount when compared to other such programs.

18 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023

18. South Africa

Access to Nationality: 36

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 5 Years

South African citizenship can be acquired through birth, descent, or naturalization. Individuals born in South Africa before October 6, 1995, or born in or out of wedlock on or after October 6, 1995, with one parent as a South African citizen or permanent resident, are citizens by birth. Those with a South African parent or grandparent may qualify for citizenship by descent. To become a citizen through naturalization, one needs five years of permanent residency, along with meeting specific criteria like good character, proficiency in an official language, and passing a citizenship test. Successful applicants will attend a citizenship ceremony and pledge allegiance to South Africa.

17. Czechia

Access to Nationality: 36

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 3-5 Years

In Czechia, strict requirements since 2013 have made it challenging for immigrants to obtain dual nationality and a sense of belonging. Naturalization requires a minimum five-year residency with a permanent residence permit (three years for EU citizens), proficiency in Czech, a clean record, and an understanding of Czech society.

16. Indonesia

Access to Nationality: 34

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 3-5 Years

To become an Indonesian citizen, certain criteria must be met, including residing in Indonesia for at least five consecutive years (or three if married to an Indonesian citizen), possessing good character and no criminal record, proficiency in the Indonesian language, a clear understanding of Indonesian culture and history, and demonstrating financial stability. The application process involves submitting paperwork to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, attending interviews and language proficiency tests, waiting for processing, and upon approval, taking an oath of loyalty to the Republic of Indonesia. Notably, Indonesia doesn't acknowledge dual citizenship, with exceptions granted for those with dual citizenship at birth, like children born to an Indonesian and a foreign parent.

15. Spain

Access to Nationality: 30

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 10 Years

Various pathways exist to obtain Spanish citizenship, encompassing options like citizenship by residency, marriage, descent, or naturalization. Among these, the most prevalent approach involves residency, necessitating ten years of living in Spain with a valid Spanish residence permit before applying for citizenship. Nonetheless, specific exemptions apply to individuals from select nations like Ibero-American countries, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and those with Sephardic Jewish ancestry. They might qualify for citizenship following a shorter residency period than the standard ten years.

14. Slovakia

Access to Nationality: 28

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 8 Years

Obtaining Slovak citizenship by naturalization entails meeting specific legal criteria outlined in the Slovak Nationality Act. These requirements mandate continuous and permanent residency in Slovakia for a minimum of eight years before the application, along with demonstrating integrity as defined within the Act's parameters. Proficiency in the Slovak language and a comprehensive understanding of the Slovak Republic are also essential prerequisites. Moreover, fulfilling any additional specified conditions and submitting all necessary documentation as per the Nationality Act is mandatory in this process.

13. Switzerland

Access to Nationality: 28

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 10 Years

The standard naturalization pathway is designed for foreign individuals who have resided in Switzerland for a minimum of 10 years, including at least three years within the five-year period before applying for citizenship. Eligibility also requires holding a permanent residence permit (C permit). On the contrary, simplified naturalization primarily applies to individuals who are married to a Swiss citizen, those born in Switzerland and part of the third generation of a family of foreign citizens residing in Switzerland, as well as specific cases like stateless individuals. The specific process and criteria for naturalization can vary based on the respective canton. It's important to note that Switzerland permits dual nationality. The naturalization procedure involves demonstrating successful integration into Swiss society, familiarity with the Swiss way of life, and ensuring no threat to Switzerland's internal or external security.

12. Hungary

Access to Nationality: 25

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 8 Years

Hungarian citizenship can be obtained through various methods, including naturalization, descent, birth, marriage, or simplified naturalization. To acquire citizenship through naturalization, individuals must fulfill specific criteria, including eight years of uninterrupted residence in Hungary, a clean criminal record, a steady source of income, good moral character, and the successful completion of a basic constitutional studies test. However, there is an option for simplified naturalization available to individuals who are not Hungarian citizens but have Hungarian lineage or demonstrate proficiency in the Hungarian language. This streamlined process does not mandate continuous residence or a specific level of financial stability.

11. Latvia

Access to Nationality: 24

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 5 Years

Acquiring Latvian citizenship through naturalization involves specific eligibility requirements. According to Latvian Citizenship Law, individuals must have lived in Latvia for at least 5 years, possess a permanent residence permit, demonstrate proficiency in the Latvian language, national symbols, history, culture, and the Constitution's basic principles, and have a lawful source of income. Furthermore, applicants typically must renounce their existing citizenship, unless they are stateless or from a country permitting dual citizenship. The process includes a citizenship test and pledging loyalty to Latvia. The naturalization procedure may take up to a year. Importantly, Latvia generally does not permit dual citizenship, with few historical exceptions.

10. Slovenia

Access to Nationality: 22

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 10 Years

To qualify for naturalization in Slovenia, it is mandatory to have been a resident for a minimum of 10 years, with the last five years being continuous. Additionally, individuals must demonstrate proficiency in the Slovene language for basic communication and provide evidence of active connections within the country. There is a separate naturalization procedure for those who can make substantial contributions to Slovenia's economic, social, scientific, cultural, or related domains. Furthermore, citizenship eligibility extends to the fourth generation, provided that the person is a direct descendant and has resided in Slovenia for at least one year. The citizenship application process includes a visit to Ljubljana, the capital city.

9. Lithuania

Access to Nationality: 22

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 10 Years

If a person has resided in Lithuania for the last ten years, maintains habitual residency, has passed the examination in the official language and fundamental principles of the Republic of Lithuania's Constitution, holds a lawful source of income, is stateless, or has formally declared the intention to renounce citizenship of another country, and meets further criteria outlined in the Law on Citizenship of Lithuania, they could qualify to obtain Lithuanian citizenship via the naturalization process.

8. Jordan

Access to Nationality: 22

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 15 Years

The eligibility criteria for residency in Jordan stipulate a 15-year residency requirement. The Cabinet of Jordan holds complete authority in granting or rejecting naturalization requests and holds the prerogative to exempt applicants from the residency condition under exceptional circumstances that are deemed advantageous for the state. Alternatively, the Jordan Citizenship by Investment Program offers an expedited path to Jordanian citizenship within three months for individuals and their direct family members who make a substantial and qualifying investment in the country.

7. Croatia

Access to Nationality: 19

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 8 Years

To be eligible for Croatian citizenship through naturalization, certain conditions must be met. These encompass maintaining an uninterrupted residency in Croatia for at least 8 years, possessing permanent resident status, showcasing proficiency in the Croatian language and Latin script, and exhibiting acquaintance with Croatian customs and societal norms. Moreover, the application process mandates the submission of pertinent documentation, such as a curriculum vitae, a letter of motivation, and a birth certificate, along with the formal citizenship application.

6. India

Access to Nationality: 16

Prerequisite Residency Timeline: 12 Years

Foreigners who have been living in India as residents for a minimum of twelve years are eligible for naturalization, subject to the conditions and qualifications outlined in the law. Furthermore, individuals belonging to specific religious minority groups from neighboring nations may be eligible for a reduced residency requirement of six years. Moreover, Indian citizens who choose to permanently settle in Pakistan or Bangladesh, or willingly obtain foreign citizenship, will automatically lose their Indian citizenship.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023.

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Disclosure: None. 18 Hardest Countries to Get Citizenship in 2023 is originally published on Insider Monkey.