What are 3 Citizenship Rules That Have Changed Over Time

Citizenship represents membership in a particular state and implies certain rights and duties. Although the concept of citizenship dates back to ancient Greece, citizenship rules have significantly changed throughout history, reflecting social, political, and economic transformations. In this blog post, we will discuss three significant citizenship rules that have changed over time.

1. Birthright Citizenship Rule

One of the most debated citizenship rules worldwide is birthright citizenship. This rule grants citizenship to every person born within the territory of a state, regardless of their parents’ citizenship status. The United States has one of the most famous instances of birthright citizenship, enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution in 1868. However, this has not always been the case.

During the early years of the United States, citizenship was primarily based on ethnicity and social status. Only white, male, property owners were granted citizenship. In 1857, the US Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision declared that African Americans could not become citizens, and the birthright citizenship rule was not codified until after the Civil War.

Furthermore, some countries have eliminated birthright citizenship due to increased migration and concerns about citizenship tourism. For example, in 2004, Ireland removed birthright citizenship rules, allowing it only for those with at least one Irish-born parent.

2. Dual Citizenship Rule

Dual citizenship refers to the situation in which an individual holds two distinct citizenships concurrently. Dual citizenship has become more common due to globalization, immigration, and intercultural marriages. However, it was not always widely accepted.

Until the 19th century, dual citizenship was not recognized in most countries. In the aftermath of World War II, many European countries abolished dual citizenship, believing that it could lead to divided loyalties. The United Kingdom, for example, did not recognize dual citizenship until 1948, and Germany did not allow it until the 1990s.

Today, most countries accept dual citizenship, and some even recognize multiple citizenships. The United States, for example, allows dual citizenship, and children born to US citizens overseas can have American citizenship, even if they hold citizenship in another country.

3. Naturalization Rule

Naturalization is the process by which a foreign citizen becomes a citizen of a new country. Citizenship through naturalization was not initially widespread and was often restricted to wealthy or influential individuals.

In the United States, the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited naturalization to “free white persons,” excluding women, people of color, and indentured servants. Immigration laws in other countries were similarly restrictive, often limiting naturalization to specific ethnic groups.

Today, most countries have eliminated discriminatory practices and allow foreign citizens to naturalize based on residency and other requirements. In the United States, for example, any person who meets the residency and other eligibility requirements can apply for naturalization.


Citizenship rules have changed significantly over time, reflecting social, political, and economic influences. Birthright citizenship, dual citizenship, and naturalization rules have all undergone significant transformations, shifting from discriminatory practices to more inclusive policies. We can expect that citizenship rules will continue to evolve in response to the changing needs and aspirations of modern societies.

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