Vietnamese couple granted citizenship by naturalization illegally

“As revealed in our records, these two foreigners have been residing in Vanuatu for only two years, after arriving in 2018," he told Daily Post.

“Records show they are a married couple.

“Our letters to inform the Citizenship Commission on the duration of their stay in Vanuatu was issued in August 2019.

“Both letters were issued on the same date but for unknown reasons, the wife was granted citizenship in September 2019 and her husband later around May this year, 2020.

“We have provided the Citizenship office with the findings of our investigation.

“Any further action on these citizenships granted without meeting the eligibility criteria is to be taken by the Citizenship Office.

“An advice from the State Law clearly states that non-citizens wanting to become a Vanuatu citizen must reside in Vanuatu for at least 10 years."

Director Markson explained that he as the Director of the Department of Immigration and Passports can exercise his authority under the Passport Act to cancel the passport of any person believed to have incorrect information.

“The two foreigners have been instructed to surrender their passports.

“We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe there are similar cases and we are looking at how we can assist the Citizenship Commission."

Director Markson said he has already issued an instruction to the Visa Unit to amend its letters to the Citizenship Commission, to include the Department's recommendation on whether applicants are eligible or not.

In the past until recently, the letters are just general information on the duration of applicant's residency, he said.

Apart from the couple, the Department of Immigration and Passports is yet to verify allegations about another foreigner also alleged to have obtained Vanuatu citizenship illegally.