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In Belgium for 20 years, Lia has still not been able to obtain Belgian nationality: “I feel rejected and sad”

Pierre pushed the orange Alert us button to let us know about the “incomprehensible” situation of his adopted daughter Lia, 38. The young woman of Iranian origin arrived in Belgium in 2002, she was adopted in 2016 and explains to us that she did everything to integrate into her host country: she worked, took training and got involved in the life of his community. Despite this, his request for nationality was once again refused, after two more attempts. She and her father do not understand this refusal and denounce a system that does not take into account the personal path of each one.

“At the end of 2016, I adopted a woman of Iranian origin. As she was an adult, she did not obtain nationality automatically. She has just applied for nationality which was refused”Pierre pushed the orange Alert us button to denounce this situation that he considers “incomprehensible”.

Her daughter Lia, 38, has lived in Belgium since 2002. She arrived at the age of 18 with her mother and half-brother to start from scratch. “I was uprooted like that. Morally, it was very hard… to drop friends, part of the family to arrive in a country where you don’t know the language”, remembers the young woman. Quickly, Lia did everything to integrate into Belgium. She started to work, to follow several training courses and, a few years later, she also passed her driving license. Lia is the mother of two children of Belgian nationality, a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. She has been living in Waremme for a few years.

It’s hard to put into words, but it’s feeling loved, feeling secure… And having a family is something I’ve fought for all my life.

At the time, Pierre was in a relationship with Lia’s mother. “He was my stepfather and the current was going very well. We often discussed, he taught me computers because it’s his job. One day, I said to him ‘You don’t want to be my dad ?’ He looked at me but he didn’t say anything. And a year later he asked me if I had a particular day off, so I had no idea that… But he had made an appointment with a lawyer to take the necessary steps”explains the 30-year-old.

In 2016, Pierre officially became Lia’s dad. “Her father died when she was young, she needed a father and I needed a daughter. I was reaching an age where it feels good to worry about someone. So I I started the procedure and I had the pleasure of having a girl who took my name”, he said, with emotion. For him, family ties are very important. “Having taken my name is something that really touches me”, he adds. And it is also a very symbolic act for his daughter. “It’s hard to put into words, but it’s feeling loved, feeling secure… And having a family is something I’ve fought for all my life”she says.

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Three refusals of nationality in the space of several years

Even if this adoption was not intended to offer Belgian nationality to Lia, she had not obtained it automatically because she was already of age. But today, things look more complicated than expected: “I applied for Belgian nationality because I find it normal after 20 years of living in this country. I am invested here so I think I have the right to have it”, notes the resident of Waremme. Unfortunately for her, her application was denied for the third time in several years. “Since I arrived in Belgium, I have worked in different companies so when I made these steps, I really thought I was going to have it… As a mother of two children, as someone who has shown for 20 years that she was an exemplary citizen. I invested myself in my family, in my job, I have been a member of a political party for six years, I am a union delegate… All that makes an image to say that I am ready to invest myself even more and to stay in this country”she continues, disappointed with this new failure.

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She and her father do not understand at all why this refusal. “I feel rejected and sad, I can’t even explain. It’s hard… I absolutely didn’t expect that”, she slips, moved. The reasons given according to them? Lia wouldn’t have worked hard enough in the past five years. “I agree, but I have a story behind… I have 20 years of history behind me, but we don’t look at that, we don’t ask questions and I think it’s sad. doesn’t make sense, both for me and for my children. My daughter is really sad, she doesn’t feel loved either. She’s Belgian and for her, it’s as if we hadn’t accepted her mother.”details Lia.

For his father either this decision is not logical. “He misses a few hours of work after a Covid period where many people have not been able to work, as is also the casehe complains. We are not at all interested in her life, her feelings, what she really wants… No, because a paper is missing, it’s over, goodbye.” Unlike Lia, her mother and half-brother were able to obtain Belgian nationality, which further reinforces her feeling of rejection. But, as a lawyer specializing in immigration law explains, these decisions should not be made personally. “It’s not a refusal of Belgium to grant nationality. It’s not something to be deserved”emphasizes Céline Verbrouck of the Altea firm in Brussels.

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Lawyer
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To obtain this nationality, specific conditions have been established by Belgian law. “These conditions are strict and they are not free, that is to say that we cannot prove that in all ways”, she insists. It is indeed necessary to respect concrete procedures and a simple referral error can lead to a refusal. “People don’t always understand the rules. Most often, the person was simply misdirected and didn’t know that this document was needed to prove this condition. Often, the refusal is simply the result of the fact that we did not have the right document and we did not know that this document was needed”she continues.

This is, it seems, what happened in the case of Lia. The young woman indeed made a request for access to nationality on the basis of an article of the nationality code but she could have relied on another legal provision to claim it. “According to article 12bis, first paragraph, thirdly, she had to prove her social integration in a precise way: either by a diploma of upper secondary education at least issued by an organization recognized by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, or to have worked for five years, but that can be proven with specific papers, or with the follow-up of the social integration program with a specific institution to issue this type of certificate. social, she did not fit into that box”explains the lawyer.

Several conditions for access to nationality

Lia having been legally resident in Belgium for more than ten years, she could, according to the specialist, make a request on the basis of article 12bis, paragraph one, fifth. “To enter this condition, you just need to prove knowledge of one of the three national languages ​​at level A2, be careful not with just any paper. You have to be well informed! And the second condition is participation in the life of her host community. The fact that she has children, that she has been here for a long time, that she has been adopted, that she has followed several training courses… These are proofs of participation in the life of of her host community: we see that she is sociable, she has an active life, she is not completely sequestered at home or radicalized… She fits, in my opinion, much more into this disposition “adds Céline Verbrouck.

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But here again, you have to be careful to register on the basis of the correct legal provision because there is no question of modifying the procedures along the way. “Once we are in a switch, the rest of the procedure is done according to the conditions of this switch. If there is an error from the start, we will not repair it along the way”, she warns. Applications for access to nationality must then be submitted to their municipality. This serves only as an intermediary with the public prosecutor’s office, which will make the final decision.

If the applicant does not provide one of the mandatory documents, we have no choice but to refuse

In Lia’s case, it was the Liège public prosecutor’s office that ruled on her request. We therefore contacted the latter who simply explained to us that the law was enforced. “We act as a kind of mailbox. The strict conditions are imposed by law: if the applicant does not provide one of the mandatory documents, we have no choice but to refuse.”

Lia’s file was apparently not complete, one of the conditions of article 12bis was not met, according to the Liège prosecutor’s office. “We have notified an act of opposition to the granting of nationality due to missing elements”he told us.

The inhabitant of Waremme will therefore have no other choice, at this stage, than to submit a new application for nationality. She does not intend to give up because obtaining nationality represents for her a very important and reassuring act: “I would like to find additional security, stability on earth. I would like to be able to say that this is my country. I want to be quiet, it’s not easy to feel that you’re not at home… And at any time, the situation can change. What will happen? And what will happen to my children?”she asks herself in the end.

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