Senior leaders of the ruling coalition on Wednesday, agreed to move the Citizenship Bill forward.

A meeting of the ruling parties held at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar decided to move the Citizenship Bill forward, said government spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki while talking to media persons after the meeting.

According to him, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had proposed to move the Citizenship Bill ahead in the meeting. He also shared that the citizenship bill will be tabled in the parliament soon after completing the due process.

The bill to amend the Nepal Citizenship Act, 2063 BS was registered on 8th August, 2018  and was presented in the Parliament on 10 August 2018. The bill was sent to the State Management and Good Governance Committee on August 21 for clause-by-clause discussion. The committee prepared the report with dissenting opinion and submitted it to the parliament on June 23, 2020.

The committee has given the report with the provision that if a foreign woman who is married to a Nepali citizen wants to adopt a Nepali citizenship, she can become a naturalised citizen if she has been married for seven years and has continuously resided in Nepal during the period. The new National Identity and Vital Registration Act 2076 BS has also made it mandatory for a marriage between Nepali and foreign national to be registered in court for legal recognition.

Disputes however remain over the seven-year deadline, and the ruling coalition will have to make efforts to forge a consensus in the parliament for it to be endorsed.

The fate of the Citizenship Bill has also affected thousands of people who are awaiting to avail citizenship by descent.

Although Nepal’s constitution allows children of citizens by birthright to obtain citizenship by descent, but the Citizenship Act has not been amended accordingly. According to reports, about 35,000 applications for citizenship could not be processed as the law was not enacted as per the provisions of the constitution.

Despite repeated commitments by several ruling leaders to address the plight of citizens who await citizenship by descent, including K P Sharma Oli during his premiership and Deuba during his – their concerns have remained ignored.

The ordinance, if moved to the HoR would also open dialogue towards their fate.