Egypt's parliament on Monday passed amendments to laws that govern citizenship and residency regulations for foreigners.
The new amendments allow foreigners who deposit at least EGP 7 million (approx. $391,000) in an Egyptian bank to acquire Egyptian citizenship.
See below for Ahram Online’s short guide to the new changes.
Q: What has been changed?
A: The recent amendments create a new method for foreigners to gain residency in Egypt, allowing those who deposit at least EGP 7 million (approx. $391,000), or the equivalent in foreign currency, at a state-run Egyptian bank, to apply for a new type of residency permit.
They also allow Egyptian nationality to be granted “to all foreigners who have lived in Egypt under a 'deposit residence' for a period of at least five consecutive years, prior to applying for naturalisation," if they meet other requirements in this regard.
There are other types of foreigners who are eligible to apply for Egyptian citizenship, including foreigners born in Egypt, those with Egyptian origins, or those who have Egyptian fathers, and those categories have not been affected by these amendments.
Q: What does this mean?
A. Those foreigners who meet this deposit requirement may apply for Egyptian citizenship after five years rather than the normal ten for foreigners with different qualifications, as prescribed by the law regulating Egyptian citizenship.
That is to say, the new rules allow those foreigners who are able to meet the conditions the option to gain Egyptian citizenship at an accelerated pace.
Q: Who are the new amendments designed for?
A: The new amendments mainly target foreign investors, as part of Egypt's efforts to boost badly needed investment and streamline doing business in the country.
The new changes are aimed at promoting Arab and foreign investments in the country and bolstering investors' confidence that they will put their money in an environment of stability, a report by the parliament's defence and national security committee said earlier this week.
They are also designed to make things easier for "foreigners who have had long and strong connections with Egypt," it added.
The committee's head, General Kamal Amer, said foreigners' spouses and children will not be eligible for citizenship unless they reside in the country.
He also said that the new changes complement an investment bill Egypt passed last year aimed at attracting investors and creating incentives for foreigners to invest in the country.
Q: Who has the final say in the matter?
A: The decision on nationality is made by Egypt's interior minister.
Q: Where does the money from the deposits go?
A: If a nationalisation application submitted by a foreigner who meets the prescribed deposit conditions is accepted, the money will then go to the state coffers.
"In the case of accepting the naturalisation request, the value of the deposit shall be transferred to the public treasury of the state," the amended law stipulates.
Q: Will those foreigners then be treated as Egyptians?
A: Those who have obtained the Egyptian nationality will only be able to exercise political rights five years from the date when they acquired citizenship.
They will also not be elected or appointed to a representative body until after ten years from their date of naturalization.