Official Explains Citizenship Application Process

Many foreigners think that it is almost impossible to get Botswana citizenship regardless of how long one has stayed in the country.

Some foreigners say that they have lived in Botswana and brought development and investment to the country but their attempts to become citizens have failed. Some say that their applications are rejected or take several years to be considered. However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Letso Mpho has said that the time taken to get a response to a citizenship applicants differs according to what an individual wants.

Application for citizenship through naturalisation takes an average of two years to be approved or rejected.

The process involves, vetting, gazetting of names at Attorney General Chambers for 30 days, quarterly interviews.

Recommendations are done in December only before the minister's final decision and notice to the applicant.

Mpho said that a maximum of 200 applicants can acquire citizenship through naturalisation in a year. He explained that application for naturalisation of spouses who have been in the country for a period of five years or more takes an average of a year or less to be approved or rejected.

"The process is not entirely different from the one mentioned above except that one has to have quarterly interviews, recommendations to the minister (immediately) and minister's final decision," said Mpho. The application for naturalisation as a citizenship through the president take less than a year to be approved or rejected. "In this one you only have to submit your application which is taken to the Office of the President for approval after vetting. There methods for citizenship application for children under 21 years, adopted children over three years and settlement of people who resided in Botswana before independence. These can take less than a year to reject or approve. A foreigner born in Botswana and who has lived in the country for more than 30 years are Batswana because at the age of 16 they qualify for the national identity card. Till 1982, people born in Botswana automatically qualified for citizenship by birth regardless of whether their parents are Batswana or not.

Currently, a person will automatically qualify for citizenship only when one of the parents is a Motswana. "If both parents are non-citizens, one does not automatically qualify but can apply through citizenship naturalisation by an individual," Mpho said. He explained a rejection of a citizenship application if final before the minister's decision cannot be appealed.

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