We’ve written before about the European Union’s “Right to Be Forgotten” laws (see our post on Making A Murderer’s Ken Kratz and his potential to be forgotten here), and we’ve talked a great deal about defamation and privacy concerns. Today we’re excited to begin a new series of blog posts that talk about what it takes to secure citizenship in each country of the European Union.
We’ll be working through the list of EU countries alphabetically, in groups of five or so, and will store them under a new category in our blog, so these references will be easy to find in the future. Today, we’ll be discussing:
If you are considering gaining citizenship in an EU country, please note that our resources are basic outlines only, and are intended to give you a starting point on your journey. Each country’s requirements are different, and laws are constantly evolving. Please take the time to verify the requirements of the country where you plan to gain citizenship with its consulate or other official representative in your area. Revision Legal’s posts will not take the place of securing individual legal representation and should not be considered a substitute for direct discussion with the country where you plan to gain citizenship.
Citizenship for Austria is primarily concerned with years of residency and a citizenship test for a fee of EUR 1050. The standard requirements are as follows:
- Continuous legal residency of roughly ten years
- No ban on residency and no pending procedure to revoke the leave to remain in Austria or any other EEA country
- Clean criminal record
- Proof of German language skills
- Proof of sufficient means of subsistence
- Positive attitude towards the Republic of Austria
- Renunciation of former nationality
- Knowledge of democratic system and history of Austria and Vienna (Citizenship test)
- Applicants under the age of 14 do not have to take the Citizenship test
If an applicant does not meet the standard requirements above, there is still legal claim to citizenship, at a cost of 776 Euro, through one of the following circumstances:
- Thirty years of uninterrupted primary residence in Austria
- Fifteen years of uninterrupted residence with proof of sustainable personal and professional integration
- Six years of primary residence, provided the applicant has been married to an Austrian for five years, and the spouse has been sharing a household with the applicant for five years
- Six years of residence and official right to asylum
- Six years of residence provided that the applicant holds the citizenship of an EEA member state
- Six years of residence if the applicant is going to be naturalized for reasons of achievements in the field of science, business, art, and culture or sports in the interest of the Republic of Austria
- Six years of residence and proof of sustainable personal integration
Legal claims to children are available at a cost of EUR 276 with proof of parental citizenship. Finally, there is an exception of naturalization to those who were once Austrian citizens but have been removed for various racist and/or political persecutions through declaration.
In Belgium there are three main paths to citizenship.
- Declare citizenship through parental rights or geographic birth location.
- Individuals who have the right to Citizenship for Belgium and another nation have the right to choose through declaration at the age of 18.
- For individuals who have no birth right to Belgian nationality, the House of Representatives may grant naturalization.
Individuals older than 18 years of age who move to Belgium on their own volition must be residents for five years. This policy changed in 2013, before which it was only a three-year minimum residency. The actual form is acquired through the House of Representatives or the Registrar in municipality that correlates to your place of residency. However, if an applicant’s main place of residency is abroad, they must apply through the Belgian Embassy or Consulate.
If an applicant lives abroad, they must submit evidence that proves they have ‘genuine links’ with Belgium during the five year required period. This is considered one of the easiest European Union countries to gain citizenship to, as long as the applicant is able to prove ties for a continuous five-year period.
Like many other European nations, the Republic of Bulgaria recognizes three types of citizenship: by birth in the nation, by parental citizenship, or by naturalization. Bulgaria is considered one of the simpler nations to acquire citizenship via naturalization. The following is required for naturalization:
- Legally resided in Bulgaria for at least five years as a permanent resident
- Clean criminal record or rehabilitated record
- Has a source of income to be a contributing member of Bulgarian society
- Has a command for the Bulgarian language
- Released from previous citizenship
If the applicant is under refugee status, the required residency minimum is reduced to three years. There is one final exception to the naturalization process. If an individual is able to prove that he or she has special contribution or investment to the Republic of Bulgaria, then he or she is able to abbreviate the permanent residency requirement. This form of application is called citizenship by investment.
The contribution to Bulgaria for the citizenship by investment is a case-by-case basis and the amount of contribution determines the requirement for the years of residency required. For example, if a non-citizen makes a large contribution then their required residency may be reduced to only two years, while an applicant with a small contribution may only be reduced to a four-year residency. This style of naturalization makes the Republic of Bulgaria one of the easiest European nations to acquire citizenship.
The Ministry of Interior oversees naturalization for the Republic of Croatia. When an individual has rights to citizenship by birth or by genealogy, local authorities and governments who oversee birth certificate authentication handle the forms required to gain citizenship. For individuals who wish to gain citizenship through naturalization, the process is slightly longer.
- Personal data
- Residence or address abroad
- Marital status
- Information about children
- Information about parents
- Information about next of kin who have acquired Croatian citizenship
These forms can be submitted to a local police department or to a diplomatic mission. The applicant must also be over 18 years of age, a permanent resident of at least five years, knowledge of the Croatian language and Latin script, and demonstrate respect for the Republic of Croatia. The residency requirement, often the limiting factor for applicants, is on par with many other European nations like Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and France, among many others.
Unlike many other European nations, the Czech Republic does not recognize citizenship for individuals born on Czech territory alone. It does, however, recognize both rights by blood and naturalization. Individuals who have a birth mother or father who is a citizen of the Czech Republic can acquire citizenship via right by blood.
For citizenship via naturalization, the requirements are in line with many other European nations. First, the residency requirement is a five-year minimum. Second, the applicant must prove proficiency in the Czech language. There is an exception for current or former Slovak citizens for this language requirement. Finally, applicants must denounce prior citizenship of any other nation.
There are exceptions to the five-year residency requirement at the discretion of the Ministry of Interior if one of the following applies:
- Born in the Czech Republic
- Resided in the Czech Republic continuously for a period of at least ten years
- Had a past Czech Republic nationality or the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
- Was adopted by a national of the Czech Republic
- Is a spouse of a national of the Czech Republic
- One parent is a national of the Czech Republic
- Moved to the Czech Republic before December 31, 1994 on an invitation by the Government
- Is a stateless person or was granted the status of recognized refugee by the Czech Republic
Applications can be picked up and dropped off at regional offices in Prague, Brno, Plzen, and Ostrava. There is a CZK 10,000 fee, which roughly translates to $400 USD.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Rock Cohen