Immigrants’ citizenship status in Europe: the role of national policies

Angela Paparusso, Sapienza Università di Roma
Elena Ambrosetti, Sapienza Università di Roma
Salvatore Strozza, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

A large body of literature has stressed the role played by citizenship status for immigrants’ process of integration into the residence country. There is overwhelming evidence that citizenship status is an indicator of integration. Although acquiring residence country citizenship represents only a component of the entire process of integration, and therefore it does not necessarily mean gaining social acceptance into the hosting society, by granting to immigrants the same status and rights of native-born residents, citizenship status formally reduces gaps with natives and equalizes new to old citizens. The acquisition of citizenship status of the new residence country may depend on (1) individual characteristics of immigrants, such as demographic, human capital and the so-called ‘immigration’ variables, (2) structural characteristics of both origin and destination countries and (3) institutional factors in the destination country. Among the latter, we find policy factors and precisely national citizenship policies, which establish who is eligible for naturalization. Although almost all European countries have shifted from a ‘nationalist’ to a more ‘multiculturalist’ citizenship policy, thus formally liberalizing the access to citizenship rights, the chances to obtain the citizenship status of the new country of residence are still quite limited for many immigrants and their descendants in Europe. Moreover, conditions under which immigrants become naturalized citizens largely vary across countries. Indeed, several differences in citizenship rights policies exist in terms of residence requirements for naturalization, citizenship by birth, dual citizenship toleration and language and integration requirements. Within these considerations, this work aims to examine the effect of both individual-level characteristics and measures of national citizenship policies on the probability to have citizenship status among first-generation immigrants living in some European countries. Individual-level data stem from the Immigrant Citizens Survey (ICS); country-level data come from a systematic review of national citizenship policies, academic literature and the Eurostat database.

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Presented in Session 114: Terms of belonging: immigrant integration