Iranian Cabinet Drafts Citizenship Bill for Children with Foreign Fathers

President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet drafted a bill on November 4 which, if passed by the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) and the Guardian Council, would grant citizenship to children younger than 18 born to Iranian mothers and foreign fathers. The parents would then be able to obtain birth certificates for these children.

Under the current law, individuals who are 18 and older don’t need parental consent to apply for Iranian citizenship, but they must renounce their paternal citizenship at the relevant government agency inside their father’s native country before the authorities in Iran can consider their application for naturalization.

According to a recent government report, there are three million children in Iran who lack birth certificates, most of whom live in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. Most of the disenfranchised populations of major cities including Tehran, Shahriar (Tehran Province) and Zahedan (capital of Sistan and Baluchestan) lack birth certificates. They are not, therefore, entitled to national health, cannot open a bank account, attend schools or receive benefits. Many undocumented children are exploited and used for cheap labor.

“If ratified, the bill would enable these children to lead a dignified life as Iranian citizens,” Shahindokht Molaverdi, the Special Assistant to the President for Citizenship Rights, said. “These children and their parents shouldn’t have to live with uncertainty and fear.”

Mrs. Molaverdi explained: “The bill would be a significant step towards protecting women’s rights and families. The proposal also calls for lifting the current restrictions which require children, whose fathers are foreign nationals, to be born in Iran or have been living in the country for an uninterrupted period of five years and be fluent in Farsi. It’ll fast-track their citizenship applications.”

In 2006 the Majlis ratified a bill which allowed children with Iranian mothers and foreign fathers to live legally in the country and apply for citizenship after turning 18.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the office of Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president for Family and Women and Family Affairs, are pushing for the ratification of this bill which has been in the works for the past three years.

Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi