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Free naturalization campaign for six months in Venezuela


A presidential decree regularizes ilegal immigrants. The new rule implies the creation of a unit in the immigration office to simplify the residence and naturalization process.

Foreign citizens with immigration problems in Venezuela may now obtain the citizenship, at no cost, in a period no longer than six months, under a presidential decree published Tuesday in the Official Gazette.

Just as explained by El Universal last Friday, the decree eliminates a number of administrative procedures to grant illegal foreigners the legal status of residents.

The first step for these citizens is to enroll in the Register of Foreigners at the National Identification and Immigration Office (Onidex) and submit their passport or any other identification document, a work certificate, a document attesting their residence issued by a local authority and four recent photos.

To obtain the naturalization, applicants only need to present a letter expressing their wish to become Venezuelans. In this letter, they may argue some "favorable circumstances" mentioned in section 6 of the Law of Naturalization.

All the procedures will be totally free of cost for the applicants, according to the decree. Under the decree, the Ministry of Interior and Justice will also create a department within the Onidex with adequate personnel to control the whole process of naturalization, admission and stay of foreign citizens in the country.

The new department will coordinate the special operation of regularization and naturalization, simplifying all the process. However, the special operation is set to be in place until August 3, 2004. After this date, no more applications will be admitted for filing.

Additionally, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latin American and Caribbean immigrants will receive a response on their applications in a period no longer than four months.

The Ministry of Interior and Justice, the Onidex and the Ministry of Communication and Information will be in charge of promoting the measure among the foreign communities in Venezuela - campaign that has already started.

At the moment, foreign citizens requesting naturalization must pay as much as 260,000 bolivars ($162) in fiscal stamps.

Translated by Edgardo Malaver

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