Almost 40,000 people acquired Belgian nationality in 2021

Almost 40,000 people acquired Belgian nationality in 2021
Belgian flag. Credit: Chris Robert at Unsplash

The number of people who have been granted Belgian nationality has been stable for the last few years, except for 2020 during the pandemic.

In 2021, 39,448 people acquired Belgian citizenship, while in 2019, 40,588 people received Belgian nationality. However, in 2020, the figure dropped to 34,441 people.

Morocco is the main country of origin for most new Belgians. In 2021, 3,611 Moroccans were given Belgian citizenship which represents 9% of new Belgians last year.

Syrians and Iraqis are increasingly represented in the countries of origin for many new Belgians.

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Yet there are paperwork issues for many people seeking citizenship, particularly in relation to obtaining legal residence. Anyone applying for citizenship must have an unlimited residence permit at the time of applying for Belgian nationality.

The residence permit is examined before the application is submitted. But according to Federal Migration Center, Myria, the way that applicants have to provide an exhaustive list of residence permits has been condemned several times in case law.

"This exhaustive list is discriminatory: it excludes foreign nationals who have a right of residence but who have a document that is not on the list," said Myria.

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