UML politico Surya Thapa’s misleading post on Facebook about the Citizenship Amendment Bill

The Federal Parliament approved the Nepal Citizenship (First Amendment) Act, 2079, known as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, on 22 July, 2022. The Citizenship Amendment Bill has become an election campaign issue for the main opposition, the Communist Party of Nepal (UML).

On August 20, 2022, Ishwar Pokharel,  senior vice-president of the UML, told voters in Kathmandu that under the bill, a foreign woman marrying a Nepali man would be eligible for Nepali citizenship the day after their wedding, and could run for political office the following day.

Surya Thapa, a Politburo member of the UML, on July 25, 2022, claimed a foreign woman who marries a Nepali man can obtain Nepali citizenship on the day of her wedding, and can even be appointed minister on the same day.

“Simplified Nepali Citizenship Law. Within ten hours, you go from daughter-in-law to federal minister,” Thapa tweeted to his more than 50,000 followers.

He shared graphics on Twitter depicting how long it would take for a foreign woman married to a Nepali man to become a citizen of Nepal.

UML politico Surya Thapa’s misleading tweet about Citizenship Amendment Bill

 “Especially for Indian women who are married to Nepali men, this is a golden opportunity,” he wrote before sharing this:

  • 10 am: Wedding with a Nepali man. Vermillion power [a symbol of a married woman in Hinduism] and a certificate of Nepali citizenship.

  • 12:00 : Nomination for federal lawmaker 

  • 2:00 pm: Swearing in

  • 4:00 pm: Appointed a cabinet minister

  • 6:00 pm:  Swearing in

  • 7:00 pm: Assume the role of minister

  • In ten hours, you become a minister

A majority of partners from the five-party coalition [which started with the great “people’s war”] approved this citizenship bill. This is the result of negotiations and mediation that Pushpa Kamal Dahal [the Maoist leader] engaged in during his [recent] trip to India. This is a disgusting gesture of surrender and an act of someone who dances to someone else’s tunes.

surya thapa

Thapa tweeted the misleading images again on August 15, 2022 along with President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s letter to the House urging it to reconsider the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Thapa has 56,000 followers on Twitter, and almost the same number of people follow him on Facebook. He also shared the same content on Facebook on August 15, 2022. His post received 687 likes and 45 comments. It was shared 16 times.

Nepal Check fact-checked Thapa’s claim that an Indian woman who marries a Nepali man can become Nepal’s citizen on the day of their wedding. As Nepal gears up for its parliamentary elections in November, the Citizenship Amendment Bill is getting centre stage on the electoral agenda.

Contrary to Thapa’s claim, the Citizenship Amendment Bill retains the same provision from existing legislation on naturalised citizenship based on matrimonial relationships.

In other words, the Citizenship Amendment Bill approved by Parliament maintains the provisions of the Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006 that address issues related to naturalised citizenship for foreign women married to Nepali men.

We first looked at the legal provisions for granting naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimonial relationship. We then examined the provisions for granting naturalised citizenship in the Constitution of Nepal, Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006, and Nepal Citizenship Rules, 2006.

According to Nepal’s constitution, a foreign woman who marries a Nepali citizen may choose to become a citizen of Nepal.

The Citizenship Act

The Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006 was enacted as a consequence of a political agreement on November 8th, 2006.

Subsection 1 of Section 5 of the Act contains provisions pertaining to matrimonial naturalised citizenship. The law states that foreign women who marry Nepali nationals must apply to the appropriate authorities with proof of their marital status and show they have started the process of relinquishing their previous citizenship in order to obtain a Nepali one. 

The Citizenship Act further stipulates that foreign women who apply for Nepali citizenship must take an oath to uphold the duties of a Nepali citizen by abiding by the country’s laws and the constitution.

What are the regulations?

In order to implement an Act, rules are formulated by incorporating practical aspects of the provisions of the Act. The Nepal Citizenship Rules, 2006 does exactly that. 

The process for a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen to apply for citizenship is standardised by this rule. When a foreign woman applies for citizenship, she must fill out a form with all of her personal information (name, surname, date of birth, place of birth, country of father, mother, and husband) in a prescribed format.

The date of marriage and evidence of renunciation of a foreign citizenship must be provided, together with documentation of a “continuous” stay after arrival in Nepal.

In addition to this, she must disclose the sources and means of livelihood. Foreign women who wish to get citizenship must prove they are “well-known” by the concerned municipality officials.. 

The district administration office reviews the application, which includes their personal information, the municipality’s recommendation, and documentation of their decision to forego or act to forego their foreign citizenship. Citizenship can only be obtained by following these requirements. 

The National Identity Card and Registration Act 2076 mandates that marriages must be registered within 35 days. The Act specifies that after 35 days, a marriage may still be registered by paying a late fee.

What documents must a foreign woman married to a Nepali man provide, and how long does the process take? 

To better understand the administrative requirements for granting citizenship to foreign women married to Nepali men, we spoke to the assistant chief district officers of two districts.

We spoke to Chiranjeevi Giri, assistant chief district officer, Saptari. 

According to Giri, an Indian woman seeking Nepali citizenship should send a letter to the relevant district magistrate of India as confirmation that she has renounced her citizenship. “In the event that an Indian woman married to a Nepali man wishes to renounce her Indian citizenship and obtain citizenship in Nepal, she should send a letter through the Nepal government’s postal service,” Giri told Nepal Check.

Giri said that it’s not possible to get citizenship on the day of the wedding. According to him, foreign women can apply to the district administration office with proof of marriage registration, ward recommendation and proof of renunciation of foreign citizenship. 

Is it practically possible for a foreign woman to get citizenship on the same day she weds a Nepali man? In response to the question, he said, “After filing an application at the district administration office, if all the documents submitted along with the application are in order, citizenship will be granted.” He said, “It’s not possible to obtain citizenship on the day of the wedding as all procedures and paperwork must be completed.”

We also spoke to Ramesh Pandey, assistant chief district officer of Bardia. In addition to getting  signatures and fingerprints of five local residents on the form, the application must include a letter from the Nepal Police declaring that the woman is eligible to gain naturalised citizenship based on marital ties, he said.

He explained the requirements to Nepal Check: “Proof of marriage to a Nepali citizen, recommendation of the ward, state-issued certificate indicating the identity of the woman’s parents, a letter sent from Nepal’s government post office to renounce foreign citizenship, or proof of renunciation of citizenship with the respective authorities of the respective country, and a police letter.

“If we still have doubts, we can investigate it confidentially. It is not possible to submit all these documents and complete the process in a day,” Pandey said.

Both Giri and Pandey, government officials with the authority to grant citizenship, said they were unaware of any foreign women granted citizenship on their wedding day.

Nepal Check also called Phanindra Mani Pokharel, spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Pokharel said it’s not possible to get citizenship on the day of the wedding, even as the law makes no mention of a specific timeframe. “The time period is not stated in the law. If a person possesses all the necessary documents, they will be granted citizenship. However, getting naturalised citizenship in that way is far-fetched rather than realistic,” he said.

This is contrary to CPN (UML) leader Surya Thapa’s claim on his social media posts that the current Citizenship Amendment Bill would allow Indian women who marry Nepali nationals to obtain Nepal’s citizenship on the day of their wedding.

The Citizenship Bill introduced by the current government has not amended the existing provisions of granting naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimonial relationship. This means the bill continues the provision of Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006, about granting citizenship to foreign women married to Nepali citizens. 

Even though the Act does not specify a deadline for foreign women who marry Nepali citizens to apply for citizenship, Thapa’s claim that they could obtain Nepali citizenship on their wedding day is misleading. 

ClaimClaimed byNepal Check Verdict
Foreign women married to Nepali citizens can obtain citizenship on the day of their wedding.
CPN (UML) leader Surya Thapa
Nepal Check verdict after fact-checking UML politician Surya Thapa’s claim that foreign women married to Nepali citizens can obtain citizenship on the day of their wedding.