Mixed marriages as a strategy for nationality acquisition? The case of recent immigration in Spain

Tatiana Eremenko, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Clara Cortina, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Although the Europeanisation of family immigration policies remains admittedly weak, a clear process of policy diffusion across countries has been ongoing for years now in this area. Fears about ‘sham marriages’ as a strategy to by-pass immigration regulations have grown almost everywhere (Kofman, Kraler et al. 2012). In France, for instance, bi-national marriage have been increasingly presented as a ‘weak link’ in immigration control and, in response, recent laws have been passed to make it ever more difficult for foreign spouses to obtain residence rights and citizenship (Neveu 2013). Spain, in contrast, has not made any legal reform in this regard in spite of having received the largest inflows in the continent, along with Ireland for quite a few years. This is particularly unexpected considering that naturalization through marriage in Spain is considerably easier than naturalization by residence, which requires 10 years of previous legal residence in general but only 2 for Latin-Americans, Portugueses and Philippines. By utilizing information available in the National Immigrants Survey (2007), we analyze the extent to which data on citizenship acquisition reflect a strategic utilization of mix-marriage as a shortcut to citizenship. Our results indicate a relatively low rate of naturalisation. Secondly, differences in that probability does not differ much between immigrants in mixed marriages and immigrants married to a non-Spanish citizen, with just a few exceptions, especially the Portuguese, who are much more likely to become citizens if they are married to a Spaniard. In contrast, the Latin-American groups do not show relevant differences in their probability to naturalize depending on whether they have married a Spanish or not. The paper will explore in detail the reasons for these differences and try to understand the role that immigration and nationality rules applicable to immigrants from different origins play in these results.

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Presented in Session 94: Policy settings and partnership dynamics among immigrants