Testing Citizenship

78 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016 Last revised: 25 Mar 2017

Date Written: May 6, 2016


In the last fifteen years, in the United States and elsewhere, there has been a profound and remarkably rapid change to long-established naturalization laws and regulations. In particular, aspiring citizens are now asked to pass increasingly rigorous language and knowledge tests to demonstrate that they can truly “belong” to the cultural mainstream in their new country. The political rhetoric accompanying these changes has focused heavily on concerns about national security and economic vitality in the context of the global recession. As U.S. scholars, lawmakers and advocates consider how best to respond to renewed calls to overhaul American nationality laws, the recent experiences of other Western nations in doing so can shed light on the range of options that are potentially available. This Article therefore explores recent developments in the statutory and regulatory naturalization requirements in seven countries — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Australia. The Article identifies potential options for reform to American nationality laws, that are informed by these recent developments here in the United States, as well as by the experiences of other mature democracies.

Keywords: immigration, nationality, citizenship, comparative

Suggested Citation

Elias, Stella Burch, Testing Citizenship (May 6, 2016). Boston University Law Review, Vol. 96, 2016, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2776768

Stella Burch Elias (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics