EU countries seem to follow similar legislative trends when handing out passports is concerned. The Daily Mail reported recently that a speeding offence was enough for the UK Border Agency to reject a citizenship application from a person from Botswana due to “bad character”, despite serving in the British Army for 4 years and having an otherwise impeccable record.
Spain’s authorities also apply administrative discretion to assess the eligibility of a foreigner to a Spanish passport, although, by contrast to the above decision, it seems that proportionality is better applied in Spain. The basic principles will however apply when an applicant has won the right to become a national, by passing of time: good behaviour, lack of criminal and police records, adequate integration in the Spanish society, reasonable command of the language and a stable income.
Let’s see the outcome of some cases that were ultimately resolved by the Courts after appeals were lodged both by turned-down applicants, or the Spanish State Lawyer against permits granted by the Civil Registry.
- The Moroccan husband living in Spain, with a son (4) and a daughter (2) who is turned down because of insufficient integration, and the allegations put forward are: his only friends are 3 nationals of his country, that he knows that the Spanish Constitution prohibits theft and only socializes with other nationals at work, that he barely comprehends the political structure of the society he lives in, among other things, and has shown minimal understanding of essential aspects of the society he wishes to become part of.
- An Argentinian who illegally connected a telephone device to a box and made several free phone calls, within Spain and also abroad, was equally denied citizenship. Turns out that the telephone company operators caught him red-handed and reported him to the Police and whilst he paid the sum and apologized, the Court deemed that such an action was hardly consistent with “good moral character”.
- Conversely, the Dominican lady sees the Supreme Court revoking a decision by the Civil Registry rejecting her nationality application. In this case, the High Court understood that there was no reason to deny her right to a Spanish passport on the basis that she was working in a brothel, since it was not demonstrated that she offered sexual services but that even if she were, the profession was neither illegal nor morally reproachable, both in Spain and in the EU.
- An Iraqi national that, since entering Spain, had dealings with car robbers, swindlers, document falsifiers and drug traffickers, according to a report drawn up by the Spanish Secret Service (CESID), was denied the right to citizenship by applying notions of “public order” and “national interest”.
- A Gambian polygamist was too discarded as eligible to Spanish nationality because according to the Court, the legal configuration of marriage, as being overwhelmingly present in Spain, is monogamy, and having several wives (polygamy) or husbands (polyandry), whilst not negatively considering cultures or societies that allow this form of custom, was crucial to assess the level of integration and adaptation to the Spanish society…which was found to be nil.
- Finally, an illiterate applicant (of unknown origin) who was initially handed down a rejection, successfully appealed on grounds that belonging to a demographical group where the percentage of literacy is minimal, did not necessarily imply that the person could not fully integrate in society as in fact, she could speak Spanish with fluency and express herself clearly and effectively.