Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Citizenship of Fiji Amendment Bill 2020 seeks to ensure for one to become a citizen of Fiji, they have to at least be a permanent resident.

While tabling the bill in Parliament, Sayed-Khaiyum says currently if someone comes to Fiji as a foreigner and gets a work permit and stays for aggregate five years in Fiji, the person can apply for citizenship.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the amendment aims to change this.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says that there are anomalies that need to be fixed.

While speaking on the motion, SODELPA MP, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu asked Sayed-Khaiyum what happens to the children of people who are serving in the British Army.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the existing provisions regarding children of Fijian citizens remain.

The amendment states that in order to qualify for the grant of a certificate of naturalisation under section 13, a person must be the holder of a valid permanent residence permit, have been lawfully present in Fiji for an aggregate period of 10 years in the 15 consecutive years immediately before the application for naturalisation, be of good character, intend to continue to reside in Fiji and have adequate knowledge of the English language and of the responsibilities and privileges of Fijian citizenship in accordance with guidelines which may be prescribed by regulations.

It also says for the avoidance of doubt, in calculating the aggregate period in subsection (2)(b) the Minister must not take into account any period in which the applicant was not a holder of a valid permanent residence permit and where the applicant has held more than one permanent residence permit, only take into account consecutive periods in which the applicant has held a permanent residence permit.

An application for citizenship lodged with the Fijian Immigration Department on or prior to 31st August 2020 must be assessed under the criteria applicable on that date.

An application for citizenship lodged with the Fijian Immigration Department on or after 1st September 2020 must be assessed under the criteria provided for by virtue of the Citizenship of Fiji (Amendment) Act 2020.

Parliament will debate and vote on the amendment bill on Thursday.