Big fall in the number of applications for naturalisation

The number of people applying for Belgian citizenship through naturalisation has fallen sharply in recent years. During the period between 1996 and 2012 there an average of 10,000 applications for naturalisation were received each year. However, this had fallen to just 175 in 2017. The figures come from the Flemish nationalist Federal MPs Sarah Smeyers and Werner Janssens.  

The sharp fall has come out in the main because of a tightening up of the procedures to be followed in order to obtain Belgian nationality through naturalisation.

The stricter rules came into force in 2013. Since then those wishing to become Belgian, must have lived here for at least five years, be proficient in one of Belgium’s official languages (Dutch, French or German) and prove that they have made efforts to integrate.  This year so far there have been 104 requests for naturalisation.

Ms Smeyers who was one of the driving forces behind the new bill told VRT News that "We want this privilege to be reserved for people that are truly integrated and that can make an important contribution to the country, such as sportspeople and scientists. Obtaining citizenship through naturalisation has truly become the exception to the rule”.