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The importance of a genealogist for obtaining foreign citizenship

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

This article explains the importance of a genealogist (family roots researcher) for obtaining foreign citizenship. If you are seeking to obtain foreign citizenship based on descent, you should pay close attention to your genealogical report. Presenting such a report to the authorities can be, in many cases, a deciding factor in obtaining foreign citizenship.

Our law offices assist clients who are interested in obtaining foreign citizenship to decipher their family trees. Genealogical research is an integral part of our work; over the years we have helped many Israelis and foreign residents obtain the citizenship they yearned for with the help of our genealogist staff.

Attorney Michael Decker has worked in the immigration field for over ten years. In this article he will explain how to document your family tree for the purpose of obtaining foreign citizenship.

What exactly is genealogy and what is the importance of a genealogist for emigration?

importance of genealogistGenealogy is the field of research on family history. Genealogy studies the family’s pedigree and its origins – the origins of the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on.

The genealogical study is essentially a chart portraying the family members, showing connecting lines (family tree) or listing by generations to indicate how people are related to each other: who married whom, what children they bore, and how the descendant in question is connected to his or her ancestors.

Citizenship based on the “law of blood”

In most countries, there are two main ways to obtain citizenship – by the “law of blood” or by the “law of the soil”. The law of the soil allows any person who was born in a certain country (with certain exceptions such as children of illegal immigrants and embassy workers) to receive citizenship in that country. The USA is one of the countries most well known for granting citizenship based on the person being born within the country’s borders, but the United Kingdom, for instance, also granted citizenship based on the law of the soil until the year 1983.

On the other hand, there is the “law of blood”. “Jus sanguinis” makes any child born to a citizen of a given country eligible for citizenship from that country, even if born abroad. So, for instance, children of Israeli citizens are eligible for Israeli citizenship even when born outside Israel. However, sometimes, if only the father is Israeli, he may be required to prove the child is his by way of a paternity test.

In most countries where citizenship is granted based on the law of blood, this right is limited exclusively to the child of a citizen. That being said, there are often possibilities for obtaining citizenship based on a more distant familial relation. So, for example, grandchildren of US citizens can receive citizenship based on this relation, and even distant relations of Sephardic and Portuguese Jews can receive a Portuguese passport with proof of Sephardic Jewish family roots.

The importance of a genealogist for obtaining citizenship

If you are planning on acquiring foreign citizenship on the strength of familial roots, you will often be asked to have a genealogist research your family’s background and origin. Based on the questions you will be asked regarding the names of your ancestors, the genealogist will figure out your family tree. Note that it usually takes between 30 days and half a year to decipher a clear and certain family tree for the average person. The description itself will be recorded in a booklet of around 50-100 pages, which will detail the names of the ancestors, their descendants, dates, places of birth and more.

A genealogist is a family roots researcher who specializes in finding connections between relatives. The search for relatives involves various actions, by which the genealogist documents a continuous family link by finding family members across the generations. For this purpose, the genealogist uses a variety of tools, including personal questioning, interviews, finding documents, researching archives, analyzing objects, and documenting the findings precisely.

The advantages of a genealogist

When clients turn to us with requests for foreign citizenships, such as Portuguese, Austrian or Polish, we make an effort to explain to them the importance of a genealogist in such cases. In addition to the fact that it reduces the chances of the application being rejected, the report will supply information on the client’s extended family, and set him or her up as a potential applicant for additional citizenships. This is due to the fact Jews usually moved from place to place over time, whether in Europe, the Middle East or elsewhere. In addition, the applicant may be able to exercise certain rights in the country of origin, such as reclaiming lost possessions, claiming an inheritance in the name of a relative who died, and more.

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If you are considering applying for foreign citizenship, but are not sure you qualify, we can help. We will look into the issue for you and explain the required criteria and relevant documents for the application procedure.

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