Nationalization in the Central American region

By: David Nuñez

The various legislations in the Central American region have determined the possibility for a foreigner to obtain nationality through an administrative procedure before the immigration authority, which is normally achieved by residing in a Central American country for a certain period of time. Similarly, the CA-4 countries recognize the possibility of dual or even multiple nationalities.

The permanence in the country for a certain period of time is a fundamental condition to obtain the nationality. However, there are other more common requirements to obtain it:

  1. Renouncing one’s nationality of origin (except for some countries).
  2. Examination of the applicant to demonstrate that he/she writes and speaks Spanish.
  3. Civic examination to verify that the foreigner knows the history and geography of the country in which he/she is applying for nationality.
  4. That he has sufficient economic resources to subsist in the country.
  5. Certificate of criminal record.
  6. Birth certificate of the applicant.

The countries of the region have also recognized special situations to obtain nationality, among which we highlight:

  1. Foreigner who marries a national, based on the restrictions of each country.
  2. Foreigners from Spain, Latin and Central America, based on the parameters determined by the legislation.
  3. Foreigners who have made investments in the country.
  4. Minor foreigners who received the nationality by extension, since their father or mother has been naturalized according to the law. In this case, if the foreigner wishes to maintain the nationality obtained by extension, he/she must ratify it when he/she reaches the age of majority.

Any person interested in obtaining the nationality must formally request it before the competent authority, attaching to such request all the requirements established by the immigration law. The approval process is long and varies among the countries of the region, but normally takes from 9 months to 3 years, and subsequently the naturalized person must obtain the corresponding identity documents.

Finally, even though the authorities grant the foreigner the requested nationality, the naturalized person may lose the nationality for the following reasons:

  1. Prolonged absence from the country that granted the nationality or permanence in the country of origin.
  2. Presentation of fraudulent documents in the application for nationality.
  3. Express renunciation to the nationality of the country that granted it.
  4. Refusing to defend the sovereignty of the country that granted the nationality.
  5. Carrying out activities against the internal or external security of the country that granted the nationality.