Aside from ancestry and extended residency, one shortcut to foreign citizenship is being a top-level athlete. Some countries will give citizenship to athletes who will improve their chances of Olympic victory. If you aren’t a world-class pole vaulter, then you may face a long and, in some cases, nearly impossible road to gaining citizenship in countries like Switzerland, China, and Qatar.
Five countries where it is the hardest to become a citizen, according to Business Insider.
1. Vatican City
With about 800 residents and 450 citizens, Vatican City is the smallest country on Earth, perhaps partially because it has one of the toughest immigration policies on the planet. According to the Library of Congress, you can become a citizen if you are a cardinal living in Vatican City or Rome, if you are a diplomat representing the Holy See, or if you live in Vatican City because you are an official of or worker for the Catholic Church
Liechtenstein, a tiny, mountainous country between Austria and Switzerland, has a population of just under 40,000 — and the country’s immigration policy appears to aim to keep it small. If you want to become a citizen, you need to live in Liechtenstein for at least 30 years, with each year before you turn 20 counting as two years. If you’re married to a Liechtenstein citizen and already live in the country, that time period is shortened to five years of marriage. If you want a shortcut from the 30-year residency requirement, you can ask your community to vote you in after 10 years. Regardless of method, you’ll have to give up your current citizenship.
The Himalayan nation of Bhutan is known for measuring its success by its National Happiness Index rather than GDP. It is one of the most isolated countries in the world. The country didn’t open to tourism until 1974 and continues to regulate and monitor travel to the country closely, so you can imagine that the immigration process is not easy. It takes two Bhutanese parents to be born a citizen, and if you only have one, you have to apply for naturalized citizenship after you have lived in Bhutan for 15 years. The 15-year requirement also applies to government employees. Those with non-Bhutanese parents who don’t work for the government may apply after living in the country for 20 years, as long as you meet a list of requirements, including no record of speaking or acting against the king or country. If you do that in the future, your citizenship can be rescinded. Even if you meet the requirements, Bhutan reserves the right to reject you for any or no reason.
If your father is not Qatari, then neither are you, even if your mother is, according to Doha News. If you have been a legal resident of Qatar for 25 years without leaving the country for more than two consecutive months (among other requirements), you can apply for citizenship. The Doha News reported that Qatar only naturalizes about 50 foreigners a year. Additionally, naturalized citizens are not treated the same way under the law as citizens born in Qatar, likely because the country provides very generous government benefits that would be costly to extend to all citizens.
5. United Arab Emirates
Federal Law No. 17 states that if you are an Arab citizen from Oman, Qatar, or Bahrain, you can apply for naturalization after three years of residency. Arabs from other countries are eligible after seven years of residence in the UAE. Descendants of Emirate parents are eligible for citizenship if they were born of known or unknown parents within the state.