Norwegian immigration authorities’ decision to revoke the citizenship of children born to a mixed nationality couple sparks a campaign to reexamine the rules.
Norwegian mother 40-year-old Nina Sivertsen and her Australian Greg Considine have three daughters.
One, Milla, was born in Australia in 2007. Norwegian immigration authorities confirmed their first daughter was eligible for dual nationality when they enquired about this, according to the parents.
Nina gave birth to their twins Agnes and Elliot in Norway the following year, whereupon their father was bound to notify Australian authorities due to the country’s legislation.
This is accomplished by the Australian parent being obliged to sign a document called “Registration of Australian Citizenship by Descent”, whereupon they automatically qualify as an Australian national.
It was only after they applied to renew the twins’ Norwegian passports last year before intending to move back to Norway that their problems started.
In a letter from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Canberra, officials wrote that the UDI have confirmed that Agnes’ and Elliot’s Norwegian citizenship was automatically forfeited when they received their Australian one. Their passport application renewals were consequently rejected.
The twins’ Norwegian nationality has now been revoked by the UDI based on a rule that says “a child who acquires another citizenship by application or explicit consent shall lose his or her Norwegian citizenship where the parents jointly or the parent who has sole parental responsibility, have or has lodged the application or given the consent,” report the mixed nationality couple.
They also argue that it was just one parent – Greg – who signed the form and regard it purely as a registration, because “nowhere in this document does it say “application approved”.
“Children born to Norwegians in Norway with one Australian parent are Norwegian at birth,” Nina and Greg write to the UDI in a statement.
“These children are also eligible, under Australian law, to Australian citizenship by descent when one parent is Australian. It has long been the understanding from many of us that inherited Australian citizenship from one parent has been allowed, without our children having to surrender the Norwegian citizenship.”
“We have received information from consulates, UDI etc., where this information has been confirmed to us. It now turns out that UDI interprets acquiring citizenship by descent in the case of Australia, as “an application for a new citizenship”, and that our children then automatically have their Norwegian citizenships cancelled,” they state, declaring the information on the UDI’s website as “confusing”.
The couple continues, saying that “several of us have contacted consulates etc., and received information that states that our children can legally have both citizenships.”
“UDI’s own English website is quite explicit with regards to loss of Norwegian citizenship only occurring where parents JOINTLY or the SOLE GUARDIAN makes such an application.”
“For citizenship by descent in Australia, only the Australian parent need apply, and as such, UDI is not applying the law consistently and either making an incorrect or discriminatory interpretation of Australian law.”
Nina Sivertsen also reports she spoke with Australian authorities by phone on Friday last week. They confirmed that Australian Citizenship by Descent is only a registration of citizenship, not an application.
Today, Royal Norwegian embassy in Canberra personnel tell her that their own investigations into the matter reveal the opposite, something she says is very “discouraging”.
“Australian immigration authorities have confirmed that when children are born to an Australian parent outside Australia, an active application is required in order to obtain Australian citizenship,” their letter reads.
“The citizenship is awarded from the date of the decision, not from birth. In such instances, Norwegian citizenship will be lost according to Norwegian legislation. The same result would follow from a registration of citizenship.”
“For information about possible resettlement in Norway, we refer to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration,” conclude officials.
The “Registration of Australian Citizenship by Descent” form can be found here (external site), and the UDI’s dual citizenship rules here (external site).