By Mahlet Mesganaw, Partner at DMLO
Foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin shall be granted a special identification card. The procedure and eligibility requirements for the special identification card are specified under Proclamation No. 270/2002 and Regulation No. 101/2004. The identification card is issued with the aim of executing the rights, privileges and responsibilities of those foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin.
Who Issues the Identification Cards
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Agency are tasked with the authority to issue the identification cards. MoFA will issue the identification cards through its embassies all over the world when the request comes outside of Ethiopia. When the request for the identification card is made in Ethiopia, the Agency shall be the authority to issue the identification cards.
Who is Eligible
A person who has been an Ethiopian national before acquiring a foreign nationality is eligible. Moreover, if the foreign national has at least one of his parents or grandparents or great grandparents who were an Ethiopian national, then he is eligible for the identification card. One exception here is that an Eritrean who forfeited Ethiopian nationality for Eritrean nationality is not eligible.
The spouse, who holds a foreign nationality but is married with a foreign national of Ethiopian origin is also eligible to apply for the identification card. Here spouses who are Eritrean nationals are accommodated.
Minors, who are children of holders of the foreign national Ethiopian origin identification card, are eligible to enjoy the rights and privileges granted to the foreign national of Ethiopian origin. The names of the minors shall be mentioned in their parent(s) identification card. This will enable the minors to enjoy the corresponding rights and privileges without a separate identification card. Nevertheless, the minor can request for a separate identification card from his parent(s). Considering the law on minors and the circumstances for the request, a separate identification card may be issued to the minor.
Some foreign nationals who reside in Ethiopia but who are not Ethiopians by origin may be eligible for the identification card. When the MoFA and the Agency jointly find it appropriate, a foreign national residing in Ethiopia may be eligible to acquire foreign national of Ethiopian origin identification card.
The application shall be in a prescribed form. The form shall be accompanied by four recent passport size photographs. In addition to that there will be documentary evidence showing the applicant is a foreign national of Ethiopian origin. Valid passport or travel document and marriage certificate and birth certificates of his children under the age of 18, if applicable, shall also be produced.
Rights and Privileges of Having the Identification Card
The foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin are not required to have an entry visa or residence permit to live in Ethiopia. They can be employed in Ethiopia without a work permit requirement. Enjoy pension schemes under the relevant pension law. Own immovable property. They will be considered as domestic investors to invest in Ethiopia under the investment law. In general, enjoy the economic, social and administrative services without any restrictions as imposed on foreign nationals.
Validity Period and Renewals
The validity period of the identification card shall be five years since the date of issuance. Renewal shall be conducted after ascertaining the fact that grounds for cancellation are non-existence. The Ethiopian mission shall conduct the renewal when the request is abroad and the Agency when the request is in-country.
The amount of fee payable to obtain the identification card is US$ 500(Five Hundred Dollars) or for renewal USD$ 200(Two Hundred Dollars) or for lost identification USD$ 300(Three Hundred Dollars) or their equivalent in local currency where it is requested or in ETB if the applicant is residing in Ethiopia.
Return of the Identification Card
Without any reason whatsoever and at any time, a holder of the identification card may return the identification card to the issuing authority. However, if there are obligations the identification card holder entered during the validity period of his identification card, he shall be obliged to discharge his obligations.
Cancellation of the Identification Card
If the identification is obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, the identification card may be canceled. If the holder of the identification card is convicted for crimes of terrorism or smuggling of narcotics or armament, the identification card will be cancelled. The identification card will be canceled, if the holder is a citizen of a country at war with Ethiopia or is willingly helping such country. If the holder of the identification card proved to have served in the regular army or intelligence of another country, the identification card will be canceled. Finally the identification card will be canceled if holding the identification card is contrary to public and national interest. The cancellation decision shall be passed by a joint session of the MoFA and the Agency.
Therefore, the procedure for issuance of the identification card till the return or cancellation of the identification card are listed by law. Enjoyment of the rights and privileges are believed to strengthen the ties of foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin to their country of origin and contribute to the development and prosperity of Ethiopia.