Millions of overseas Vietnamese could lose citizenship

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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An overseas Vietnamese family at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport An overseas Vietnamese family at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport

Millions of overseas Vietnamese who fail to register to keep their Vietnamese nationality by July 1 would lose it and the government should change the law to head off the threat, a top official said Tuesday.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, chairman of the Fatherland Front, which monitors the government’s activities and policies, urged the government to make amendments to regulations and get the approval from the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature..

A 2009 government decree requires overseas Vietnamese, or Viet Kieu, who did not lose their Vietnamese citizenship before July 1, 2009, to register before July 1 this year to retain it.

But only 6,000 out of several million overseas Vietnamese have registered so far.

Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong said since some of the Viet Kieu live in countries that do not allow dual citizenship, they may not want to give up their foreign citizenship, Nguoi lao dong (Laborer) newspaper reported.

The Ministry of Justice, the National Assembly’s Diplomatic Committee, and the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese have yet to compile figures on the number of ethnic Vietnamese living around the world, he said.

So even if the deadline is extended by another five years, it is impossible to say how many people would register, Cuong said.

“The Ministry of Justice, therefore, has no basis to seek a revision to the law.”

Besides, it is “not simple” to get the National Assembly to amend just one article in a law, he said.

The newspaper reported that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out how many Viet Kieu want to keep their Vietnamese citizenship.

Nguyen Sinh Hung, chairman of the National Assembly, said since the Nationality Law is not on the house agenda, the latter would have to be revised. 

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