EU Citizenship: Part IV

By John DiGiacomo

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 third in our 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.

Latvia

Latvia has had four major revisions to its citizenship laws in the past century. With the tumultuous experience of joining and then separating from the USSR, politics for nationality laws has created confusion and turmoil amongst many people. Because of this unification and division process, Latvia recognizes dual citizenship to tender to some of those issues.

Citizenship to Latvia is slightly unique because of the dual citizenshipallowances. Unlike many other European nations that require the applicant to denounce prior citizenship to other nations, Latvia allows you to maintain citizenship in a select number of countries. These countries include other European member states, NATO member states, Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand. If an applicant has citizenship to a non-approved nation, then there may be a waiver under certain circumstances.

Regardless of prior citizenship, individuals may apply for citizenship under one of the following manners:

  • Right by blood
  • Stateless status
  • Naturalization

With most cases of right by blood, any individual with one parent of Latvian citizenship is also eligible for Latvian citizenship themselves. This is further extended to individuals who are children of stateless parents. Because of the nation’s history, the Amendments of 2013 allowed for children under the age of 15 to be granted citizenship even if their parents are not citizens.

For the remaining individuals, steps for naturalization are somewhat simple and similar to that of other European nations. First, upon granting citizenship, applicants must provide an oath of loyalty to the Republic of Latvia. This does not denounce prior citizenship, but affirms loyalty to Latvia. The applicant must also prove proficiency of the Latvian language. This test is waived if the applicant has spent more than half of their education within Latvia. Finally, and most cumbersome, the applicant must have a five-year permanent residence within Latvia.

Applications are examined by the Ministry of Interior. Like many other countries, the Ministry takes into account what an individual is bringing to the country. As noted by many other European nations, an individual who is significantly contributing to the nation is much more likely to be excused from the five year residency program.

 

Lithuania

Like other Soviet Union nations, Lithuania has recognized a right of return since 1991. Individuals who were able to prove that their ancestors were born within the nation’s boundaries would be granted citizenship as a right of blood. This method only requires documentation like a birth certificate. This is similar to the laws that recognize individuals born within Lithuania’s borders as immediate citizens. For all others, naturalization is possible but considered lengthier than most other nations within the European Union.

The Lithuanian government requires a Lithuanian language examination, Lithuanian Constitution examination, source of income, oath of loyalty, and a residency period of ten years. While most of these requirements are similar to that of other EU nations, the residency requirement is considerably longer than average. The ten-year requirement is five years longer than many other nations in the European Union.

The application process must be done in person and is only provided in the Lithuanian language. Dual citizenship is allowed in some rare circumstances, but is not typically accepted. Generally, dual citizenship is reserved for refugees, individuals under 21 years old, or by virtue of marriage or adoption. Fees for the application process are generally low, with the processing of the application only costing 65 EUR, or roughly $72 USD.

 

Luxembourg

Being a citizen of Luxembourg grants individual benefits of being a citizen of the European Union. Free travel through the European Union, right to consular protection, and political voting rights are only some of the benefits of being a citizen of the European Union. In comparison to other EU nations, Luxembourg is considered one of the more stringent nations to acquire citizenship.

People born within Luxembourg’s state boundaries are granted citizenship ifthe individual 1) is stateless, 2) was abandoned at birth, or 3) is the child of a parent born in Luxembourg. For those don’t meet one of the above requirements, naturalization is still an option. For spouses of Luxembourg citizens, the naturalization process makes no exceptions and the applicant must still meet all of the standard requirements.

To gain citizenship via naturalization, the applicant must:

  • Have permanent residence for at least seven consecutive years
  • Be over 18 years old
  • Pass an examination testing one of the three Luxembourgish languages
  • Take courses in civic instruction
  • Provide documentation of good repute

These requirements are very similar to those of other European nations. The seven-year consecutive year residency is slightly longer than others. As of 2009, Luxembourg began allowing dual citizenship for certain countries that recognize it. As for the language requirements, the test must prove proficiency in French, German, or Luxembourgish in order to pass.

Finally, for those that believe to have displaced ancestry from Luxembourg, there is an option to recover citizenship rights as of 2008. If the individual can prove that their ancestor was that of Luxembourg descent as of January 1, 1900, then the individual can recover their ancestral right by filling out a Certificate of Ancestor.

A similar application is permitted for individuals who lost citizenship due to naturalization in another country prior to the 2009 dual citizenship allowance. In either of these cases documentation is needed to prove rights to Luxembourg citizenship.

 

Malta

In 1964, Malta gained its independence from Great Britain, meaning that up until that year all people born within the Maltese lands were British citizens. Since gaining its independence, Malta has joined the ranks of many of the other European Union nations allowing right by blood and right of soil citizenship. These two doctrines aid in making sure that individuals born with ties to the nation are allowed citizenship regardless of the nation’s tumultuous past.

Right by Blood

An individual born between September 21, 1964 and July 31, 1989 whose father was a Maltese citizen by birth or naturalization may be granted citizenship regardless of birth location. This right by descent also applies to children born after this 1989 date to mothers who were born in Malta or are Maltese by naturalization. Today, if a person can prove ancestry to Malta, regardless of paternal or maternal side, then they may apply for citizenship by registration.

Right of Soil

Between Malta’s date of independence in 1964 and July 31, 2001, anyone born within the territory of Malta was granted citizenship. Since this 2001 shift, people born in Malta are only allowed citizenship if one of their parents is a Maltese citizen or if one of their parents were born in Malta, regardless of citizenship.

Naturalization

If candidates are unable to prove right by birth or soil, then the individual can always apply via naturalization. First, an individual must reside within Malta for a five-year permanent residence before beginning any application process. This must be provided by documentation upon application. Dual citizenship is allowed, meaning the applicant may retain their previous citizenship status along with the granting of the Maltese second citizenship. The application process is run by the Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs.

Individual Investor Program

At the beginning of 2014, Malta implemented a program for a naturalization-expedited process by investment in the nation. Limited to a total of 1,800 applicants, 585 applicants were approved as of May 2015. The investment program expedites the process and eliminates certain components like a language or constitutional test that many other countries require. The price for investment is high, but many of those wanting to diversify to a EU nation have taken this path. The payment plan is as follows:

  • EUR 650,000 for the main application;
  • EUR 25,000 for the spouse and every child under the age of 18;
  • EUR 50,000 for every unmarried child between 18 and 26; and
  • EUR 50,000 for every dependent parent above the age of 55.

This does not relieve an applicant of the five-year residency, but instead allows them to apply prior to the residency with the expectation that after the application they will invest in a five-year lease for a rental, or that they will purchase a home.

 

Netherlands

The Netherlands citizenship is relatively straightforward, with only three main options for citizenship: right by descent, right by option, or by naturalization. In the age of families being more unique, the Netherlands has created a system that accounts for all types of descendants to be included in Dutch citizenship if documentation is proven. First, a child of at least one Dutch citizen will automatically become a Dutch citizen if born after January 1, 1985. If the child is born of an unmarried Dutch father and non-Dutch mother then the father must acknowledge the child prior to birth. There are other exceptions for adopted children, stateless dependents, and children who descend from a line of Dutch ancestry.

For the most part, individuals who now wish to obtain citizenship must do so by option or by naturalization. Citizenship by option is considered a simple and quick way of acquiring citizenship if an applicant meets one of the following requirements and also has a Dutch residency permit:

  • An adult who has lived within and was born in any of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • A stateless adult who has lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least three years
  • An adult who has lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands since he or she was four
  • An ex-Dutch citizen who once has lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least one year
  • An adult married to a Dutch citizen for at least three years and who has resided for at least fifteen years in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • An adult over sixty-five who has lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least fifteen years continuously
  • A minor cared by a Dutch subject who has lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least three years
  • A minor under joint custody of at least one Dutch subject who has lived with principal residence in the Netherlands

Obtaining citizenship by option requires more specific connection to the Netherlands but requires less on the application process.

To obtain citizenship via naturalization, the applicant must be over 18 years old and have lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least five continuous years legally with a valid residency permit. Additionally, the applicant must be able to prove proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding the Dutch language via a Civic Integration Examination.

Upon review of the application, the administering party will review any prison sentencing, violations, or potential legal harm the applicant has been involved in. Finally, the Netherlands does not allow dual citizenship and therefore requires the applicant to renounce prior ties of nationality to foreign nations. There are some exceptions to the five-year residency requirement that mirror many other nations. Applicants who are married, stateless, minors, or adopted are allowed to be naturalized or acquire citizenship by option with a shorter residency requirement. While the Netherlands does have an investment program to promote residency, this investment program only allows applicantsto pay for permanent residency in the Kingdom. It does not diminish the five-year (or smaller) residency requirement for naturalization.

The obstacle can be slightly confusing, but citizenship in a European Union nation has many benefits.

 

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