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 offer the second in our series of blog posts that talk about what it takes to secure citizenship in each country of the European Union. (Find Part I here.) 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.
Unless you are of Cypriot descent, were born on Republic of Cyprus land, or are married to a citizen of Cyprus, there are only two ways to naturalize.
The first is by residency. The residency requirement is set to a seven year required stay within the country’s borders prior to the date of application. If you are a child or spouse of a Cypriot citizen, then this requirement is reduced to five years. In either case, the applicant must have spent the prior 12 months continuously in the Republic of Cyprus.
The application process will cost roughly 500 EU. Along with the fee, the following must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department:
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of clean criminal record
- Marriage certificate
- Copies of all pages of the passports of the applicant to prove residency
- Statement of arrivals and departures completed by applicant
- Newspaper copies that advertise the application for naturalization
- Two passport size photographs
The second means of naturalization is through exception. This is similar to Bulgarian naturalization exceptions. On a case-by-case basis, the country will waive some of the residency requirement based on the contributions the applicant has made to the Republic of Cyprus.
Marriage to a Cypriot national reduces the residency requirement to only two years, but requires the marriage to have taken place at least three years prior to the date of application. Finally, individuals with Cypriot origins may apply for citizenship if they are older than 18 and their father or mother was of Cypriot origin. The requirement for Cypriot origins varies depending on when the applicant was born.
Danish citizenship is one of the hardest to obtain in the European Union through naturalization. However, individuals who are fortunate enough to have a birthright can obtain citizenship through one of following methods:
- Birth in the Danish Realm and at least one parent has Danish citizenship
- Birth outside of Denmark but the applicant’s mother is a Danish citizen
- Birth outside of Denmark but the applicant’s father is a Danish citizen and is married to the applicant’s mother
- Adoption by a Danish citizen before the applicant is 12 years of age
- Birth after July 1, 2014 if either parent is a Danish citizen
For those that are not birthright eligible, naturalization is the only option for citizenship. Denmark has one of the longest residency requirements in all of the European nations. The country requires a minimum of nine continuous years of residency with interruptions only allowed for special circumstances. Absence from Denmark for more than 14 days is considered to break the continuous residency chain. Even for refugees or stateless people, the residency requirement is only reduced to eight years.
Marriage has the potential to reduce each year of residency requirement for the amount of years a person has been married to a Danish citizen. This reduction can only be used for up to three years. If the applicant is married to a Danish citizen, there is also an exception for absences from Denmark for greater than one to two years. However, there must still be a continuous three-year period of residency at one point.
Along with meeting the requirements stated above, an applicant must pass a Danish Citizenship Test to prove understanding of Danish culture and history.
In Estonia, there are four main ways an individual can gain citizenship. First, if an individual is born of at least one parent whom is already considered an Estonian citizen then the child is also considered an Estonian citizen by descent regardless of where they were born. Second, any person married to an Estonian citizen prior to February 26, 1992 is eligible for citizenship. Finally, those that meet the following requirements may apply for citizenship through naturalization:
- Applicant is 15 years or older
- Reside in Estonia for at least eight years and of those eight years spent at least five years of permanent residency
- Be familiar with the Estonian language
- Pass a naturalization test
- Display a means of stable income
- Have taken an oath of loyalty to Estonia
The process of naturalization in Estonia has a few exceptions to the requirements stated above. For example, if an applicant has graduated from an Estonian college then there is an assumption that the applicant is proficient in the Estonian language and therefore does not need to take a written test. Additionally, if an applicant takes language courses in order to gain proficiency, upon naturalization the government of Estonia will monetarily reimburse the applicant.
The final exception applies to people younger than 15 and those who are disabled in any capacity. The state of Estonia makes exceptions to many of the requirements for these two groups of people in order to ease naturalization in cases where applicants have been loyal residing individuals within Estonia. It is critical to remember that each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the examining agency has the right of discretion to make exceptions to many of the non-defined terms.
In comparison to other European Nations, Estonia is likely considered slightly more stringent for the average applicant because of the longer residency requirement.
There are five different avenues toward Finnish citizenship:
- Nationality of one or both biological or adoptive parents (the ‘Parentage Principle’)
- The applicant was born in Finland (the ‘Birthplace Principle’)
- The applicant’s parents’ marriage to each other (‘Legitimation’)
- Application (‘Naturalization’)
Finland acknowledges multiple citizenships, so if someone is looking to only gain Finnish citizenship, but wishes to retain their US citizenship, Finland will recognize both. On the Finland immigration page they do note that not all nations recognize multiple citizenships and may choose which citizenship they wish to accept.
When it comes to nationality of a parent, there are several considerations that Finland takes into account. If the applicant’s mother has Finnish citizenship, and has not lost it or given it up, Finnish citizenship is automatic as well, and notification of birth should be sent to a Finnish register office. If the applicant’s father has Finnish citizenship and was married to the birth motherat the time of birth, again, Finnish citizenship is automatic and the Finnish register office should be notified of the birth. However, if the applicant wasborn out of wedlock and the father is a Finnish citizen, a formal declaration of Finnish citizenship must be made.
If adopted before the age of 12, and either one of or both of the adoptive parents have Finnish citizenship, an applicant will automatically have Finnish citizenship granted. However, if the adoption took place between 12 and 17 years of age, formal declaration must be made in order to obtain citizenship.
A person born in Finland to non-Finnish parents (that is, they were not Finnish citizens at the time) may only obtain citizenship in special cases. It will be left up to the Finnish Immigration Services to determine whether or not to grant arequest for citizenship. Like most nations, a person born in Finland, to Finnish parents, automatically has Finnish citizenship.
A person born outside of wedlock to a father with Finnish citizenship, whose parents marry after their birth, can obtain citizenship as of the date of theparents’ marriage. The marriage must be viewed as valid in Finland.
To apply for Finnish citizenship through naturalization, a collection of requirements must be met. These include language skills, established identity, period of residence in Finland, personal integrity, means of support and fulfillment of payment obligations. If an applicant is granted citizenship, theywill be notified and can then apply for a Finnish passport.
A declaration is only used in specific cases, as briefly outlined above. There is a special form that is required to be completed, different from a regular application for citizenship. The form is only available in Finnish and Swedish, so there is a language requirement even for a declaration.
There are four main ways to become a French citizen:
- Child of a French citizen born in France
- Child of a French citizen born abroad
- Marriage to a French citizen
Similar to other European Union (“EU”) countries, recognition of dual citizenship is not provided for in French law, but the government will recognize it. What this means is that a newly-minted citizen of France does not have to give up citizenship to a country they may already be citizens in. This may not be the same for the country holding the existing citizenship, so it’s a good idea to inquire with that immigration service to see what would happen to a current citizenship.
As is the case in many other nations, a French-born child of French citizens will automatically be a French citizen himself or herself.
If one parent is a French citizen, but a child is born outside of France, the child has a right to French citizenship. Unlike Finland, where it depends on which parent holds the citizenship, and whether or not the child was born out of wedlock, the same restrictions do not appear to apply when requesting citizenship in France. In this case, an applicant would petition the French government for a French nationality certificate. The best part is that an applicant does not have to be currently living in France to make this application.
Should a person marry a French citizen and wish to obtain citizenship, theycan make an application after four years of marriage to their partner. Prior to applying for citizenship, it’s a good idea to look at whether or not a ‘long stay’ visa from the French government is required. There are visa waiver countries where this is not a requirement.
To apply for citizenship via naturalization, an applicant must have been living in France for five years continuously prior to bringing the application.Completing two years of higher education in France reduces the five-year period to two years, after which point you can apply for French citizenship.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Rock Cohen