Due to the pandemic-related travel restrictions moving around Europe has become difficult in recent times, especially for individuals without European union passports. This is an important, but not the only factor driving the growth of interest in obtaining citizenship of an EU country, including Poland. At the same time, requirements for obtaining polish citizenship do not seem too strict compared to other EU countries.
There are several ways to get Polish citizenship. It can be acquired through birth or through naturalisation. As for the latter it has two forms: being recognised as a Polish citizen or receiving a discretionary decision of the President of Poland granting citizenship.
Children acquire Polish citizenship if at least one of their parents is Polish, no matter where they were born. If someone born to a Polish parent does not have any documents confirming their Polish citizenship, they may apply for formal confirmation of their Polish citizenship. For this, Polish citizenship of at least one of the parents must be proven. It can be proven with any available document, or a copy, such as a parent’s passport, birth certificate, military service book, certificate of baptism, or certificate of membership of a local community or certificate of residence in Polish territory, also in lands that formerly belonged to Poland. The entire confirmation procedure usually takes 4–6 months and is conducted in Poland before the province governor (wojewoda). A person residing outside of Poland may also submit an application through the Polish consul for applicant’s place of residence.
When it comes to obtaining Polish citizenship through residency, a person can apply for recognition as a Polish citizen in many situations. The most common and available is through long-term, continuous legal residence in Poland. The residence must be based on a permanent residence permit, or permission to settle, or a long-term EU resident’s permit. The stay in Poland must last at least 3 years in general cases, or 2 years for a foreign citizen who has remained married to a Polish citizen for more than 3 years. However, the required period of continuous stay in Poland is only 1 year for persons staying in Poland under a permanent residence permit granted on the basis of a “Polish National’s Card” or Polish origin. In all cases, recognition as a Polish citizen requires passing a Polish language exam at the B1 level or higher. This requirement is regarded as a major barrier for foreigners due to the difficulty of the Polish language. Other requirements include having a stable source of income in Poland and a place of residence in Poland. The entire procedure usually takes 2-3 months and is conducted by the province governor. If the foreigner meets the statutory conditions regarding the period of legal residence in Poland and other requirements, the decision in the case must be favourable.
Obtaining Polish citizenship by grant of the President is one of the most popular procedures chosen by foreigners. The President of Poland may grant Polish citizenship to a foreign citizen at the foreigner’s request. The President’s decision is entirely discretionary, which means that there are no set prerequisites or requirements to be met in this procedure. The President’s decision-making process takes into consideration all the circumstances related to the foreigner that the foreigner has presented, such as the foreigner’s family situation (family members in Poland), employment in Poland, and social, civic, political, business, cultural, sports and other activities in Poland. It also takes into account the recommendation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration and other institutions, since a background security check is also a part of the process. The procedure is not demanding in terms of the required documents, but is time-consuming (it currently takes about a year to obtain a presidential citizenship decision). The statistics are encouraging. In 2019, there were 2,157 citizenship applications submitted to the President, and about 83% of those were successful. In practice, most favourable decisions are issued to applicants who have made a significant contribution to the Polish economy, politics, culture or sports.
Magddalena Świtajska, adwokat, Aleksandra Wójcik, Employment & Global Mobility practice, Wardyński & Partners
The content of this article is a part of Episode 14 of the programme News from Poland – Business & Law. You can watch the episode here >>>