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Obtaining Polish Citizenship

Michael Decker

Prima Lorenzo

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 Many Jews left Poland during the 20th century. The main reason for this was due to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, but local antisemitism and religious persecution also played a part. Today, hundreds of thousands of descendants of Polish Jews in Israel and abroad are eligible for a Polish passport. This article aims to bring the relevant information to readers who are interested in obtaining Polish citizenship. The information below is arranged according to key points of interest that are important to know.

Our law firm, which specializes in Polish citizenship, provides legal assistance to Polish descendants who wish to acquire European Polish citizenship. This passport grants a variety of benefits, since Poland is a member of the European Union (EU). Some examples of such benefits are the right to live and work in all EU countries, receive medical care, establish a business, receive subsidized studies, and other benefits detailed below.

Obtaining Polish citizenship

Obtaining Polish Citizenship—Conditions

Eligibility by Jus sanguinis: The Polish citizenship law is based on the “right of blood” (Jus sanguinis). This means that any descendant born to a Polish parent may acquire Polish citizenship regardless of their place of birth. If you wish to obtain Polish citizenship, you will not need to renounce your previous citizenship.

However, if only your grandparent was a Polish citizen, you must first naturalize one of your parents, and only then will you be able to lawfully inherit Polish citizenship yourself. This applies to any number of generations of ancestry, since, as stated above, the eligibility is by Jus sanguinis.

The two ways to receive citizenship: Descendants of past Polish citizens are eligible both to confirm and to restore citizenship. Even if they live outside of Poland, these descendants may confirm their citizenship directly, since the Polish authorities recognize them as lawfully Polish by birth. However, as stated above, you cannot skip a generation to receive citizenship. To restore your citizenship, you will first need to prove that you lost it.

Military past: If your ancestors left Poland before 1951 and later served in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or any other foreign army, you will not be allowed to receive Polish citizenship. A non-minor person who has worked at a governmental public office, and who has naturalized in a foreign country before the enactment of the law that took place in 1951, loses their citizenship automatically, as do the person’s wife and minor children (under the age of 18). Serving in the Polish army does not lead to loss of citizenship.

Leaving Poland between 1920 and 1951: If your ancestors left Poland before 1951 and you wish to confirm the citizenship of one or more of them, you must prove that they left Poland after the first regulation entered into force in 1920. If they left before that time, it will be more difficult to prove their citizenship. If the parents of the ancestor remained in Poland after the ancestor left, it may be easier to prove their citizenship.

Important Points—Eligibility to Polish Citizenship

Eligibility due to having a Polish father: Regarding the period before the changes that were made to the law in 1951, which corrected the discrimination against women, military graduates, and past workers at public offices, the Polish authorities still recognize descendants as eligible to a Polish passport only by their father. In other words, if your parents left Poland before 1951, your eligibility depends solely on your father’s status. If the father’s identity is unknown, the mother’s citizenship is what will determine eligibility for the descendant.

Women’s loss of citizenship: Until 1951, women’s Polish citizenship was included in their husband’s citizenship. This means that, although any woman who left Poland before 1951 and naturalized in a foreign country lost her citizenship automatically, women married to a Polish citizen could still keep their Polish citizenship as long as their husband remained a Polish citizen. If the husband lost his citizenship, his wife immediately lost it, as well.

Polish citizenship for a spouse: In the case of a married couple, if one of the spouses has Polish citizenship, the other spouse may also receive citizenship. However, this is only possible if the non-Polish spouse moves to Poland for two years after being married. In addition, the non-Polish spouse must pass a test examining the spouse’s control of the Polish language.

The Citizenship Law that was Amended in 1962

Importantly, before the 1962 law entered into force, the Polish citizenship law was very strict, over the years, since Poland experienced waves of changing and overturned regimes that opposed the encouragement of immigration. However, after 1962, the law became more flexible. From then on, it became possible to lose or renounce citizenship only on special request by the citizen. Moreover, starting from 1962, the Polish law recognizes past citizens as more eligible than others to receive citizenship, which was not the case before 1962.

Immigration to Israel Between 1958 and 1984

Polish citizens who immigrated to Israel between 1958 and 1984, and who intentionally became Israeli citizens upon arrival based on the Israeli Law of Return applying to Jews, automatically lost their Polish citizenship. However, they and their descendants may be eligible to reacquire their citizenship by declaration.

The Changing Polish Borders Over the Years—Obtaining Polish Citizenship

As a result of the change in the Polish borders after the Second World War and until 1951, thousands of people received another citizenship in addition to their Polish citizenship. If your forefathers had Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, or any other citizenship, you will not be recognized by the Polish authorities today as eligible to receive citizenship. However, if your forefathers returned to Poland during the late 1940s or early 1950s, in accordance with the various agreements that took place between Russia and Poland regarding repatriation (returning to the homeland), and lawfully restored their citizenship, you, too, will be eligible to receive citizenship.

How Do You Receive Polish Citizenship? Obtaining Polish Citizenship

When submitting a client’s application to the Polish authorities, we first ask the client to provide us with one of two necessary documents. The first document is a family tree showing that the applicant’s relatives lived in Poland. This document must include dates of birth, places of birth, family names, and other important details.

The second document is an original copy of any official paper that the relative living in Poland received. This may be a birth certificate, marriage certificate, military document, academic diploma, ID card, student card, or any other document showing that its holder—the past Polish relative—was officially connected to Poland.Obtaining Polish citizenship

The Three Ways to Receive Citizenship—How Do You Obtain Polish Citizenship?

There are three different procedures for obtaining Polish citizenship:

  1. Being granted citizenship: Citizenship may be granted by the discretion of the Polish president.
  2. Restoring citizenship: Citizenship may be restored by decision of the Polish Minister of Interior, in accordance with the new 2012 law.
  3. Confirmation of citizenship that was never lost: Requests to confirm citizenship are brought before a Polish district governor or decided at the Ministry of Interior or the courts.

Only by obtaining citizenship in one of these three ways will it be possible to pass the citizenship on to the next generations, as well.

Polish Citizenship Advantages—Polish Citizenship Benefits

As a member of the EU, Poland can offer you a variety of unique advantages that are only available in EU countries. Besides the fact that it is always good to have more than one citizenship, Polish citizenship opens many advanced possibilities to its holders. With a European Polish passport, you will be able to immigrate to Europe and lawfully live there permanently. In addition, you will be able to work in EU countries (such as Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, and other countries) like every legal European citizen. You will enjoy free passage between the various EU countries and the countries that are signatories to the Schengen acquis.

European citizens are also allowed to study at leading higher academic institutions in Europe at the price paid by local citizens. In some countries the studies are even fully subsidized by the state. You will also be eligible to full social services, including health and welfare services. With a European passport, you will be allowed to establish a business or purchase real estate. You will also be able to enter countries from which Israelis are banned, including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Indonesia.

The Price of Obtaining Polish Citizenship

The costs involved in issuing a Polish passport depend on the specific circumstances of each applicant. If the client has in their possession all the required documents from their Polish ancestors, the process will probably be shorter and cheaper. If they do not, we will be able to search for the documents in the Polish archives using basic information provided to us by the client (such as a person’s name, city of residence, or approximate year of birth). Therefore, the price often depends on the applicant’s specific circumstances, and no two cases are alike.

However, the price of obtaining Polish citizenship also depends on documents that must be translated into the Polish language by our lawyers. This is done by stamping by a certified notary public. Since we are talking about a long-term investment, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance from a skilled lawyer who specializes in the field of foreign citizenship, to ensure that you succeed in obtaining the passport and do not invest large amounts of money for nothing by being refused citizenship by the Polish authorities due to simple mistakes in submitting your application.

Contact Us—Polish Citizenship Lawyer—Polish Citizenship for Israelis

Contact a Polish citizenship lawyer at our offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Our law firm specializes in obtaining Polish citizenship for Israelis who are descendants of past Polish citizens. If you are of Polish origin, there is a good chance that you, too, are eligible to a European-Polish passport. This passport may lead you to wide scopes of life and open many doors to you and your children. Obtaining Polish citizenship is something you should do through us!

Obtaining Polish citizenship

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