Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood) is a social policy by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by having a parent(s) who are citizens of the nation. It contrasts with jus soli (Latin for "right of soil").
At the end of the 19th century, the French-German debate on nationality saw Ernest Renan oppose the German conception of an "objective nationality", based on blood, race or even, as in Fichte's case, language. Renan's republican conception explains France's early adoption of jus soli. Many nations have a mixture of jus sanguinis and jus soli, including the United States, Canada, Italy, Israel, Germany (as of recently), Greece, the Republic of Ireland and others.
Apart from France, jus sanguinis still is the preferred means of passing on citizenship in many continental European countries, with benefits of maintaining culture and national identity. Some countries provide almost the same rights as a citizen to people born in the country, without actually giving them citizenship. An example is Indfødsret in Denmark, which provides that upon reaching age 18, non-citizen residents can decide to take a test to gain citizenship.
Unlike France, some European states (in their modern forms) are post-empire creations within the past century. States arising out of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires had huge numbers of ethnic populations outside of their new boundaries, as do most of the former Soviet states. Several had long-standing diasporas that did not conform to 20th century European nationalism and state creation. In many cases, jus sanguinis rights were mandated by international treaty, with citizenship definitions imposed by the international community. In other cases, minorities were subject to legal and extra-legal persecution and their only option was immigration to their ancestral home country. States offering jus sanguinis rights to ethnic citizens and their descendants include Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and, from 2009, Romania. Each is obligated by international treaty to extend those rights.
Many countries provide immigration privileges to individuals with ethnic ties to these countries (so-called leges sanguinis). As examples:
- Bulgaria: Article 25 of the 1991 constitution specifies that "person[s] of Bulgarian origin shall acquire Bulgarian citizenship through a facilitated procedure." Article 15 of the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship provides that an individual "of Bulgarian origin" may be naturalized without any waiting period and without having to show a source of income, knowledge of the Bulgarian language or renunciation of his former citizenship. Bulgaria and Greece were subject to a population exchange following the second Balkan war. Conditions of treaty settlement mandated that they accept individuals' claiming respective ethnic origin.
- Belgium: A former Belgian citizen (other than a person deprived of citizenship) may resume Belgian citizenship by declaration after a 12-month period of residence. Residence abroad can be equated with residence in Belgium if the person can prove genuine ties with Belgium. The conditions under which the person lost his or her Belgian nationality and the reasons for wishing to regain it will be taken into account. Children aged under 18 automatically acquire Belgian citizenship if a responsible parent resumes Belgian citizenship. See also Belgian nationality law.
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