Children born in Egypt or to at least one Egyptian parent automatically earn citizenship. Spouses of Egyptian nationals do not earn citizenship through marriage, though marriage to an Egyptian will undoubtedly improve the chances of your application being approved.
To be eligible for Egyptian citizenship, you must have lived in the country for a minimum of 10 consecutive years, and you must be over 21 years of age. You cannot have a criminal record, and you must be able to prove that you are mentally sound and have no serious physical disabilities that would make you “a burden on the state.” You must be able to demonstrate competency with Arabic and prove that you have a legal means of earning a living.
Applying for Egyptian citizenship as a spouse
If you are the wife of an Egyptian national, the process for citizenship application comparatively simple (curiously, this courtesy is not extended to foreign spouses of Egyptian women). You need only fill out an application form (available at an Egyptian consulate or the offices of the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo) and attach the following documents:
- The original (and one copy) of the Egyptian husband’s birth certificate
- Original and copy of the husband’s father’s (or uncle or aunt’s) birth certificate
- Original and copy of the Egyptian marriage certificate
- A copy of both the husband and wife’s passport
- A written statement from the husband conveying his wish for his wife to obtain citizenship and verifying good martial relations. This must be notarized by either a notary public or an Egyptian consulate official.
- Four recent photographs of the wife
- A processing fee equivalent to about USD100
At this point the application is submitted to the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo for approval.
Other citizenship applications
If you are not the wife of an Egyptian national, you should visit the Egyptian consulate or the Ministry of the Interior office in Cairo to begin the application process. Experiences with the process (and success rates) vary wildly. You should make sure to collect documents similar to those above before your trip (and don’t forget copies!). Also, make sure that your residence and work permits are in order.
If you are granted citizenship, you are not allowed to participate in elections until five years from the day it is granted. You may not run for political office until you have been a citizen for 10 years.
Citizenship by Presidential Decree
The Egyptian President may grant citizenship to any foreign national who has rendered some major service to Egypt. This includes officials of Egypt’s two leading religions, Islam and Coptic Christianity. The President may also waive the restrictions on political participation mentioned above.
Finally, the Ministry of Interior may declare a physically or mentally disabled foreigner eligible for citizenship if that individual has fought as a member of the Egyptian military.
A note on citizenship for women
Foreign women married to Egyptian men should pursue citizenship if at all possible, especially if they have children. Egyptian divorce law is notoriously counterintuitive with regards to women’s rights (an Egyptian court will not grant a woman a divorce unless her husband also approves, for example). A foreign woman without citizenship will undoubtedly get even less than the meagre consideration that the law affords women, even where her children are concerned.