The current citizenship law framework in Uganda was established by the 1995 Constitution and the Citizenship and Immigration Control Act 1999. The 1995 constitution provides for an explicit ethnic definition of Ugandan citizenship, and includes a schedule listing ethnic groups that are considered Ugandan. For members of those groups, however, citizenship is provided based on birth in Uganda, without need to prove the parent is a citizen — restoring the jus soli citizenship that had existed at independence, but only for indigenous groups (which exclude people of European and Asian descent). Some ethnic groups, such as the Maragoli, have complained at exclusion from citizenship rights because they are excluded from this list. Children of refugees are also excluded from acquiring citizenship based on birth in Uganda.

The constitution provides that spouses of citizens, and  persons living in Uganda for twenty years on entry into force of the constitution, as well as others who have “legally and voluntarily” entered the country, are entitled to acquire citizenship by registration. Naturalisation, a more discretionary process, is provided for by the act, based on twenty years residence in Uganda and other conditions.

In 2005, the citizenship provisions in the constitution were amended by Act No.11 of 2005, to permit dual citizenship, change the residence periods for registration as a citizen, and add to the list of “indigenous” groups; the Citizenship and Immigration Control Act was amended in 2009 to match the revised constitution. In 2006 a new Refugees Act was adopted, stating that “the Constitution and any other law in force in Uganda shall apply to the naturalisation of a recognised refugee.”  In 2015, a Constitutional Court judgement confirmed that refugees were not eligible for citizenship by registration as provided under the Constitution, but expressed its view that they should be eligible for naturalisation under the Citizenship and Immigration Control Act.

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