Urgent Question regarding Vietnamese Citizenship

Hi all,

I am in need of urgent advice regarding Vietnamese citizenship law.

My parents had Vietnamese nationality and moved to Hong Kong in the late 1970s to immigrate to Europe. They told me they had to give back all the Vietnamese Docs and passport when leaving for Hong Kong. I was born in Hong Kong on October 1979.

So I have a Hong Kong birth certificate, now an expired Hong Kong ID card.

I am currently living in Europe and applying to for my British Citizenship however I have been advised that by Vietnamese nationality law, I had automatic Vietnamese nationality and as I have never renounced it, I am not eligible for British Citizenship. I am not sure if I am eligible even for a Vietnamese Passport.

I believe new laws were passed in 1988?

I need to know what my status is. Was I eligible for Vietnamese nationality even though I was born in Hong Kong and given a British National Overseas passport and Hong Kong ID?

Sadly, I have not ever been back to Vietnam so have not registered myself or would be on any Government data base in Vietnam.

I need to confirm to the British Government that I never held Vietnamese Citizenship.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Kind regards,
Lee

You should consult with a lawyer about this, but as I happen to have quite a bit of knowledge about your issue, this is my answer after reading your post and filling in the blank (the missing parts of your story, as alluded in this next paragraph). 

Remember, my answer is based on the best of my knowledge and not a random guess or hearsay, unfortunately cannot be held as a voice of legal authority.

-  I don't believe that your parents retained their nationality at the time of your birth.  The late '70s was the period during which Vietnam was a closed country and Vietnamese who escaped lost their nationality simply by their action.  When they became citizens of another country, there was no need to renounce their birthright as Vietnam at that time had no political relationship with anyone but Russia and China (and they were at war with the latter so essentially, Russia was IT!)

I and thousands of other Vietnamese immigrants who became naturalized US citizens in the late '70s automatically lost our Vietnamese nationality.  Not one of us needed to renounce anything. 

-  As you were not born to Vietnamese parents (not legally Vietnamese anyway), you were not automatically a Vietnamese by birth so how could you renounce something that you never had? 

I left Vietnam before the war officially ended, a few years before your parents did.  My children were born in the States during the time when I was no longer a legal Vietnamese but before I became a US citizen: they did not have Vietnamese nationality.  They're natural-born US citizens.

-  Approximately 10 years ago, Vietnamese government offered Overseas Vietnamese a 5-year chance to retain or restore their Vietnamese nationality.  Less than 0.15% of Overseas Vietnamese answered the call (6000 out of 4.5 millions).  The other 99.85% were happy with their statuses, even the ones who had yet to officially belong to any country.

Even though the deadline for that amnesty (for lack of better term) period expired 5 years ago, a new proposal to extend it to July 1, 2019 was passed just a few months ago.  If you truly wish to have Vietnamese nationality, you may want to hurry up and contact your nearest Vietnam Consulate within the next 2.5 weeks.

As how to confirm that you were not and have never been a Vietnam National, you should contact a more knowledgeable lawyer, one who doesn't assume that just because your parents came from Vietnam, you were automatically a Vietnamese by birth.

Hi Ciambella,

Thank you for your response. My dads family were all planning to immigrate to the US however he decided to go to the UK sooner after I was born.

Thank you for the advice, I will searching for a knowledgeable lawyer. As my dad advises he was told he gave up his citizenship when he left back then but did get any official documents. I guess that was just the way it was then.

You made two contradictory statements, one that you are applying for British citizenship and second that you are not eligible for British citizenship.  If your application for British citizenship is still viable, may I suggest that you not even broach the subject of Vietnamese citizenship with British authorities.  If they bring it up, you should declare that you have no interest or intention to take Vietnamese citizenship.  After, and if, you are granted British citizenship, maybe then you could look into dual citizenship if still available.  Consider that if you end up with Vietnamese as your only citizenship, your travel and living options will be severely limited and you might even be asked to leave Britain as you will be there without a visa.

Hi Thigv,

I meant that I am applying for British Citizenship however the UK gov states that i cannot have any other citizenship apart.from my BNO.

Part of the process is to provide documents about my parents and grandparents. In their eyes, my parents were still vietnamese citizens when I was born and by vietnamese law. Any child born by vietnamese parents will automatically have vietnamese citizenship. They bought this up in my application.

So I am trying to find out whether I actually have this or by someway due to my parents being refugee status in Hong Kong at the time of my birth. I was not eligible if this is the case. They will approve my application.

The UK does not make things simple.

Many thanks for replying to my post.

LeeQ :

Hi Thigv,

I meant that I am applying for British Citizenship however the UK gov states that i cannot have any other citizenship apart.from my BNO.

Are you sure about this?

The UK allows dual citizenship...

IgorLaz :

Are you sure about this?

The UK allows dual citizenship...

I think the US does not allow dual citizenship.  In fact new citizens take an oath to forswear other allegiance.  However they effectively look the other way as many people maintain two or more passports.  Maybe the UK is the same, technically forbidding but effectively allowing dual citizenship.

Maybe some of you have seen the advertisements.  Right now for a modest $1,000,000 US any one of us can purchase a Maltese passport.  Sounds like a great deal for money launderers and drug smugglers.

Yes, unfortunately there is a clause regarding registering from BNO to British citizenship. You can not have another nationality prior to 1994.

My lawyers now have submitted my case so I have my fingers crossed the UK gov accepts my application.

THIGV :
IgorLaz :

Are you sure about this?

The UK allows dual citizenship...

I think the US does not allow dual citizenship.  In fact new citizens take an oath to forswear other allegiance.  However they effectively look the other way as many people maintain two or more passports.  Maybe the UK is the same, technically forbidding but effectively allowing dual citizenship.

Maybe some of you have seen the advertisements.  Right now for a modest $1,000,000 US any one of us can purchase a Maltese passport.  Sounds like a great deal for money launderers and drug smugglers.

The US does not care about multiple citizenships.  There are no laws allowing it, and there are no laws forbidding it. 

A person naturalizing to become a US citizenship does not renounce their other citizenships nor are they forbidden from obtaining other citizenships in the future.

The bottom line is the US does not care about holding multiple citizenships.

The UK's POV that you are a Vietnamese citizen is not conclusive.  They can treat you as a Vietnamese citizen if they like.  It doesn't mean Vietnam has to accept that determination.

You are not automatically a Vietnamese citizen.

Only the Vietnamese government can make the legal conclusion that you are a citizen.

You will need documents showing your parents were Vietnamese citizens.  Without those documents, you will not be able to obtain Vietnamese citizenship.

Vietnamkid :

A person naturalizing to become a US citizenship does not renounce their other citizenships nor are they forbidden from obtaining other citizenships in the future.

My apologies for going on about US citizenship when the OP is talking about UK but I could not let the prior statement to go unchallenged.

The first part of your statement is patently untrue although your statement about future citizenship may be correct.  To quote the oath directly:  "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; ...."  This is slightly legalize but it certainly amounts to a renunciation of prior citizenship(s).  The use of "heretofore" may technically allow acquisition of other citizenship(s) in the future.  The fact that it is so obviously not enforced does not make the opposite so.  An oath sworn before a government official has the force of law.

Vietnamkid :

Only the Vietnamese government can make the legal conclusion that you are a citizen.

I probably should let his speak for himself but I had the distinct impression that the OP was primarily seeking UK citizenship.  The prospect of Vietnamese citizenship may actually be an obstacle.

THIGV :
Vietnamkid :

A person naturalizing to become a US citizenship does not renounce their other citizenships nor are they forbidden from obtaining other citizenships in the future.

My apologies for going on about US citizenship when the OP is talking about UK but I could not let the prior statement to go unchallenged.

The first part of your statement is patently untrue although your statement about future citizenship may be correct.  To quote the oath directly:  "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; ...."  This is slightly legalize but it certainly amounts to a renunciation of prior citizenship(s).  The use of "heretofore" may technically allow acquisition of other citizenship(s) in the future.  The fact that it is so obviously not enforced does not make the opposite so.  An oath sworn before a government official has the force of law.

LOL.

I am a US immigration lawyer.  My clients who naturalized will be shocked that they all lost their other citizenships.  My Vietnamese American relatives will all be shocked that they are no longer Vietnamese citizens.  LOL

From NOLO.   https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia … izens.html

U.S. Immigration Law Allows Dual Citizenship

It would be nice if the U.S. Congress had, at some point, simply spelled out within the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) that dual citizenship is allowed by the United States. It hasn’t done so. In fact, you won’t find any formal or official recognition of dual citizenship as an immigration status.

What’s more, the oath of allegiance that immigrants must take in order to become naturalized citizens declares that the immigrant will:

renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.

That’s enough to make anyone think that they must choose between whether to be a citizen of the U.S. or of their home country.

Nevertheless, U.S. practice, as upheld in various court decisions, is to allow dual citizenship. (You can see this on the U.S. State Department’s website, for example, where it explains that: “U.S. law does not . . . require a person to choose one citizenship or another.”)

The United States will not ask naturalizing citizens to take any steps to formally renounce the citizenship of their home country. Nor will it stop U.S. citizens from later adopting citizenship in another country – though if their intention is to give up U.S. citizenship, they can certainly do so. You may continue to vote in your home country, if it allows it.

All this does not mean that the U.S. will tolerate divided loyalties. Dual citizens must obey U.S. laws, uphold the U.S. Constitution, and in every other way adhere to the naturalization oath that they take. They are also required by the I.N.A. to carry their U.S. passport when leaving the U.S., and to present it upon reentry. (I.N.A. Section 215(b).)

From the US State Department.  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel … ality.html

"U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship."

THIGV :
Vietnamkid :

Only the Vietnamese government can make the legal conclusion that you are a citizen.

I probably should let his speak for himself but I had the distinct impression that the OP was primarily seeking UK citizenship.  The prospect of Vietnamese citizenship may actually be an obstacle.

LOL

Your arrogance and ignorance speaks volumes. 

The UK asserts he's a Vietnamese citizen, so it's relevant that only the Vietnamese government can make the legal conclusion that the OP is a Vietnamese citizen.

Ciambella :

I and thousands of other Vietnamese immigrants who became naturalized US citizens in the late '70s automatically lost our Vietnamese nationality.  Not one of us needed to renounce anything.

I know of a person with a tangentially related legal experience.  Having arrived as a teen and never having bothered to obtain US citizenship, as an adult she was subject to deportation for a drug conviction.  However she can't be deported as the current Viet government, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, rather cleverly maintains that they don't have to accept her as she was a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam Cộng Hòa) which is no longer in existence.  LeeQ:  If the UK authorities continue to assert that you are a Viet citizen, maybe your lawyers should assert that you are only potentially a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam and thereby stateless.  The Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be willing to accept you as a citizen but they may not have to.

Vietnamkid:  Your link:  https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia … izens.html actually seems to prove my point that as I said  "... they [the US government] effectively look the other way as many people maintain two or more passports." The US government clearly neither forbids or endorses dual citizenship.  However if push comes to shove on issues like taxes  :mad: , the US will certainly assert that they come first.

THIGV :
Ciambella :

I and thousands of other Vietnamese immigrants who became naturalized US citizens in the late '70s automatically lost our Vietnamese nationality.  Not one of us needed to renounce anything.

I know of a person with a tangentially related legal experience.  Having arrived as a teen and never having bothered to obtain US citizenship, as an adult she was subject to deportation for a drug conviction.  However she can't be deported as the current Viet government, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, rather cleverly maintains that they don't have to accept her as she was a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam Cộng Hòa) which is no longer in existence.  LeeQ:  If the UK authorities continue to assert that you are a Viet citizen, maybe your lawyers should assert that you are only potentially a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam and thereby stateless.  The Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be willing to accept you as a citizen but they may not have to.

Under the agreement normalizing relations between the US and Vietnam, Vietnam does not have to accept any US deportee that entered the US before July 11, 1995.  Even if the person was a citizen of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, that person can't be deported to Vietnam.  It has nothing to do with being a citizen of the Republic of Viet Nam. 

Before July 1, 2009, Vietnam did not allowed for dual citizenship.  Anyone who obtained a foreign citizenship was no longer a Vietnamese citizen.  Anyone who lost their Vietnamese citizenship this way must apply to regain their Vietnamese citizenship. 

Since OP obtained a foreign citizenship before July 1, 2009, he lost any Vietnamese citizenship that he might have had.  He would need to apply to the Vietnamese government and be approved for citizenship.

THIGV :

Vietnamkid:  Your link:  https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia … izens.html actually seems to prove my point that as I said  "... they [the US government] effectively look the other way as many people maintain two or more passports." The US government clearly neither forbids or endorses dual citizenship.  However if push comes to shove on issues like taxes  :mad: , the US will certainly assert that they come first.

Bwwaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!  Try reading the rest of the article.

THIGV :

You made two contradictory statements, one that you are applying for British citizenship and second that you are not eligible for British citizenship.  If your application for British citizenship is still viable, may I suggest that you not even broach the subject of Vietnamese citizenship with British authorities.  If they bring it up, you should declare that you have no interest or intention to take Vietnamese citizenship.  After, and if, you are granted British citizenship, maybe then you could look into dual citizenship if still available.  Consider that if you end up with Vietnamese as your only citizenship, your travel and living options will be severely limited and you might even be asked to leave Britain as you will be there without a visa.

Spot on.

I’m not qualifed or can contribute to your situation because my circumstances were ever so different in that I was born in Vietnam but left before my first birthday and became a British Citizen, I know where you are coming from though because having been to the london consulate enquiring about VEC and Vietnamese passports they kept asking and emphasising whether my parents ever renounced their citizenship. They fled anyway they could, i doubt they had a chance to file paperwork. I got the impression it was like saying just because you or your parents fled the country doesn’t mean they stopped becoming Vietnamese citizens and would be welcome to get their passports back.

Your parents were vietnamese citizens but you never were. Don’t bring it up. Get the British passport, then if you want a Vietnamese one later prove your parents were former citizens with them or just stick with a 5 year VEC.

What with the troubles that are only going to get worse in Hong Kong, I would be collecting as many passports as I can and moving assets abroad for when it properly kicks off.

THIGV :
Ciambella :

I and thousands of other Vietnamese immigrants who became naturalized US citizens in the late '70s automatically lost our Vietnamese nationality.  Not one of us needed to renounce anything.

I know of a person with a tangentially related legal experience.  Having arrived as a teen and never having bothered to obtain US citizenship, as an adult she was subject to deportation for a drug conviction.  However she can't be deported as the current Viet government, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, rather cleverly maintains that they don't have to accept her as she was a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam Cộng Hòa) which is no longer in existence.  LeeQ:  If the UK authorities continue to assert that you are a Viet citizen, maybe your lawyers should assert that you are only potentially a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam and thereby stateless.  The Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be willing to accept you as a citizen but they may not have to.

Again, spot on.

Your parents were actually stateless and the British government would recognise it. I know this because my sister, uncle and aunt went before I did and did in fact become British Citizens from being stateless just after 1975. They too spent time in refugee camp in Hong Kong. They were the lucky ones as many got sent back after years in the camps. You will find that all the vietnamese in the UK was given the option to go the US but many declined.

I had another auntie on my dad side who left for the US in 1975 because her husband was in the ARVN and my uncle on my mums side worked in a US military hospital and was allowed to go the US but declined to go because he already had a big family and at the time couldn’t afford the ticket for everyone. It’s very sad as he was put in a re-education camp.

Thanks for everyone who contributed.

The UK Home office does not make logical decisions unfortunately. Found out they do not hire anyone with a law degree, so the staff just goes by a check list. So decisions can be wrong and not logical.

The UK Gov kept stating that I had Vietnamese Citizenship at birth however I have been to the Vietnamese Embassy and they have said the opposite, provided me with two letters to confirm this but the UK Home office wants an explanation which the V. Embassy states they do not provide. So I am stuck in between.

My lawyers have now submitted all documents and evidence we have to confirm I have never had Vietnamese Nationality. So hopefully the UK Gov see sense otherwise, technically I believe I will then be stateless.

I would then have to appeal the decision to take it to court for a Judge, the lawyers advises the Judge would look at all the evidence and make a logical decision.

So now, I am awaiting the UK decision.

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