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How to Acquire Filipino Citizenship Through Judicial Naturalization in the Philippines

Citizenship marks the reciprocal relationship between the State and an individual. It is defined by Britannica as the “relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection.”


It is a general notion that the question of how to acquire Filipino citizenship cannot be easily answered due to the length of stay requirements and pre-conditions imposed on the applicant.


Section 1, Article 4 of the 1987 Constitution enumerates who are the citizens of the Philippines, as follows:


1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the adoption of this Constitution;

2. Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

3. Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

4. Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.


In the Philippines, one mode to acquire Filipino citizenship is through naturalization. Note that the Philippines abides by the jus sanguinis principle, which is founded on blood relationships with one’s parents. Hence, for non-citizens, they may acquire Filipino citizenship or nationality through naturalization in the Philippines. There are two kinds of naturalization in the Philippines: administrative and judicial. Philippine Administrative Naturalization is open to those who were born in the Philippines and who have resided here since birth. The governing law for Administrative Naturalization is Republic Act No. 9139 or the Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000. If the applicant is not qualified for Administrative Naturalization, then the other option is to go through Judicial Naturalization in the Philippines, which is primarily governed by Commonwealth Act No. 473.


How can a person become a naturalized Filipino citizen? Any person having the following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by Judicial Naturalization:


1. He/she must be at least 21 years of age at the date of hearing;

2. He/she must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than 10 years;

3. He/she must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;

4. He/she must own a real estate in the Philippines or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;

5. He/she must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any of the principal Philippine languages; and

6. He/she must have enrolled his minor children in schools where Philippine history, government and civics are part of the curriculum


However, the requirement of ten (10) years of continuous residence as mentioned above may be reduced to five (5) years for any applicant or petitioner having any of the following qualifications:


1. Having honorably held office under the Government of the Philippines;

2. Having established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines;

3. Being married to a Filipino woman;

4. Having been engaged as a teacher in the Philippines in a public or recognized private school for not less than two (2) years. Take note that the school must not have been established for the exclusive instruction of children of persons of a particular nationality or race; and

5. Having been born in the Philippines.


Further, the following people cannot be naturalized Philippine citizens, as they are disqualified:


1. Persons opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments;

2. Persons defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and predominance of their ideas;

3. Polygamists or believers in the practice of polygamy;

4. Persons convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude;

5. Persons suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases;

6. Persons who, during the period of their residence in the Philippines, have not mingled socially with the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos;

7. Citizens or subjects of nations with whom the United States and the Philippines are at war, during the period of such war; and

8. Citizens or subjects of a foreign country other than the United States whose laws do not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects thereof.


Requirements


A. Declaration of Intention


As a general rule, one year prior to the filing of his petition for admission to Philippine citizenship, the applicant for Philippine citizenship shall file with the Office of the Solicitor General:


1. A declaration under oath that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the Philippines;

2. Such declaration shall set forth name, age, occupation, personal description, place of birth, last foreign residence and allegiance, the date of arrival, the name of the vessel or aircraft, if any, in which he came to the Philippines, and the place of residence in the Philippines at the time of making the declaration;

3. No declaration shall be valid until lawful entry for permanent residence has been established and a certificate showing the date, place, and manner of his arrival has been issued;

4. The declarant must also state that he has enrolled his minor children, if any, in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Department of Education, where Philippine history, government, and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen; and

5. Each declarant must furnish two photographs of himself.


As an exception, said Notice of Intent may be dispensed with, if the applicant was born or studied his primary and secondary education in the country or resided in the Philippines continuously for thirty (30) years.


B. Petition


Under the law, any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the competent court:


1. A petition in triplicate;

2. Two photographs of the petitioner;

3. The petition which shall set forth:

a. The petitioner’s name and surname;

b. Their present and former places of residence;

c. Their occupation;

d. Their place and date of his birth;

e. Whether single or married and the father of children, the name, age, birthplace and residence of the wife and of each of the children;

f. The approximate date of his or her arrival in the Philippines, the name of the port of debarkation, and, if he remembers it, the name of the ship on which he came;

g. A declaration that he has the qualifications required by this Act, specifying the same, and that he is not disqualified for naturalization under the provisions of this Act; and

h. That the petitioner will reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of the filing of the petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship.

4. The petition must be signed by the applicant in his own handwriting and be supported by the affidavit of at least two credible persons, stating that:

a. They are citizens of the Philippines;

b. Personally know the petitioner to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by this Act and a person of good repute and morally irreproachable; and

c. Said petitioner has in their opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of this Act.

5. The petition shall also set forth the names and post-office addresses of such witnesses as the petitioner may desire to introduce at the hearing of the case. The certificate of arrival, and the declaration of intention must be made part of the petition.


The requirements for processing one’s judicial naturalization in the Philippines may seem daunting, given the tedious requirements and processes delineated above. Determining the right mode of naturalization in the Philippines (i.e. judicial versus administrative) also requires a careful study of one’s qualifications. In order to seamlessly handle your visa application it is best to consult and be assisted by a Philippine immigration lawyer.


*Arceo and Irasusta Law Firm is an immigration law office in Quezon City that serves clients anywhere in the Philippines and abroad. Its immigration lawyers have extensive experience in preparing, compiling, and processing the requirements for naturalization. Should you wish to seek assistance of an immigration law firm for visa application, citizenship, residency, and other immigration-related matters, you may contact us at lawfirm@arceotandoc.com to get in touch with any of our immigration attorneys.