A host of countries offer people with ancestors that were citizens the ability to become citizens themselves… through their heritage and ancestral lineage. In part 1 of this blog, we explain the process called citizenship by descent. Keep reading to know more about the countries offering citizenship by descent.
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Another EU nation with a large diaspora of potential citizens by descent worldwide is Poland. Experts estimate that at least 20 million people worldwide come from Polish lineage, making the possibilities for gaining Polish citizenship by descent massive.
The country allows people to track their lineage to the third generation, or great-grandparents, to qualify for citizenship by descent. The requirements are that an ancestor must:
- Have been a Polish citizen on February 20, 1919, or after
- Left Poland after February 20, 1919
- Did not immigrate to the Soviet Union (formed in 1922)
- Did not serve in an Axis military service if he was male
- If the ancestor was female, her descendants will qualify only if they were born after February of 1952
The process to obtain Polish citizenship by descent is quick, but the damage done to the civil archives during the second world war means that applicants need to provide relevant documentation or utilise the services of an expert genealogist to be able to qualify.
Those who do succeed will obtain the tenth strongest passport in the world with visa-free access to 182 destinations worldwide, including the EU, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and many more.
The EU nation of Malta is well known for its citizenship by investment program, but it also allows people to qualify for its highly coveted citizenship by descent.
Malta allows people with parents or grandparents who were Maltese citizens to apply for citizenship.
However, there is an important factor to note; if an applicant’s grandparent was a Maltese citizen but not their parent, then their parent must apply for citizenship before the applicant themself can apply.
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There is another deciding factor regarding the eligibility of a person whose grandparent was a Maltese citizen but not their parent, which is if their parents died before applying for citizenship. In this case, the death date plays a crucial role, as an applicant will be eligible for Maltese citizenship based on their grandparent’s citizenship if their parent died before 2010 without first applying for citizenship themselves but will not be eligible if their parent died after 2010 without first applying for citizenship.
Malta is unique as being an EU and Commonwealth member, allowing it to keep close ties with the EU and UK at the same time. Its passport is also robust, which is one of the main drivers for its illustrious citizenship by investment program, offering visa-free entry to a staggering 185 destinations worldwide including the EU, Singapore, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and many more.
Spain has its own residency by investment program, dubbed the Spanish Golden Visa, however, it does not have a direct route to citizenship as people must live in Spain for ten years to qualify for citizenship, unless, of course, they qualify for it through descent.
Spain allows applicants to qualify for citizenship by descent for two generations (grandparents), but it does have some very exclusive limitations on who can qualify.
To qualify for citizenship, an applicant must meet one of the three following conditions:
- One or both of their parents is a Spanish citizen.
- One or both of their grandparents was a Spanish citizen before having their citizenship forcibly revoked.
- Nationals of Latin American countries can apply for citizenship if either of their grandparents was at any time a Spanish citizen
These tightened requirements make Spanish citizenship by descent very limiting in terms of who can qualify but does open a massive door to the population of Latin America to easily qualify for citizenship.
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It is also worth noting that Spain does not allow dual citizenship with all countries in the world, as it bases dual citizenship on political agreements it signs with foreign entities. The US is the most high-profile absentee from this list, meaning Spain will not recognise dual citizenship with the US. However, if a US citizen does obtain Spanish citizenship, Spain does not require the person to renounce their US citizenship; rather they will continue to treat them as a Spanish citizen and not a dual US-Spain citizen in terms of responsibilities such as taxation and otherwise.
The Spanish passport is the third most powerful passport in the world in terms of travel mobility, allowing its holder visa-free access to a whopping 191 destinations worldwide, including the EU, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and many more.
Slovakia recently passed a bill amending its citizenship by descent act, allowing people to qualify for citizenship if one of their ancestors up to the third generation (great grandparents) was a Slovakian citizen.
The requirements are simple, as anyone who had an ancestor who held Slovakian citizenship at any time after 1993 can qualify for citizenship by descent.
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Between 1918 and 1993, Slovakia was part of the bigger Czechoslovakia nation, which then amicably split into two parts, Czechia, and Slovakia. However, anyone with an ancestor who held Czechoslovakian citizenship during that time can qualify for citizenship, on the condition that their ancestor lived in the area that constitutes as Slovakia.
Slovakia has a passport like Poland’s in strength, as it provides visa-free entry to 182 destinations worldwide, including the UK, EU, USA, Turkey, and many more.
The Asian nation of India also allows people to apply for citizenship by descent, allowing applicants to go back to third-generation ancestors (great grandparents) to qualify.
People who have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent that was an Indian citizen and did not renounce their citizenship can qualify for Indian citizenship.
It is worth noting, however, that some areas of India do not qualify for this route, as any ancestors hailing from areas added to India after January 1, 1950, are not included in the law. This includes the areas of:
- Nagar Haveli
- Daman and
It is also important to consider that India does not allow dual citizenship, so anyone who wants to apply for Indian citizenship by descent must renounce their other citizenship within five years of obtaining the Indian one.
There are various other countries that offer citizenship by descent to the descendants of their citizens. However, very few go back to third-generation ancestry and beyond when considering citizenship by descent applications.
This stance shouldn’t be considered as a reluctance to offer citizenship by descent, but as a logical issue as many countries have changed their political framework or even ceased to exist within the past hundred years, making citizenship by descent a tricky subject to manage.
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Therefore, many countries offer citizenship by descent that goes back one generation to countries. This is the case in various nations such as the US, UK, Japan, Brazil, Ghana, and many others.
The odds are, if someone was born to citizens of a country, they will automatically become citizens of that country. There are exemptions of course, such as countries limiting citizenship of the children only if the father was a citizen and not the mother, like the case in Saudi Arabia, but the vast majority grant it to the children of citizens even if they are not born in the country.
Finding The Best Option
Citizenship by descent is just one way of obtaining a second citizenship. There are various routes to becoming a citizen of a country, such as naturalisation, marriage, royal decree, and most interestingly, investment.
Finding the best route to obtaining a second citizenship requires intimate knowledge of immigration laws and the ability to analyse the case in terms of regulations, financial ability, overall benefit, and more.
Click here for Part 1 of the Ultimate Guide to Citizenship by Descent to know more about the countries offering this citizenship option
This is why we at Savory & Partners analyse each case individually and offer our clients tailor-made solutions that meet their situation, budget, objectives, and needs.
To know more about getting a second citizenship, contact us today to book a consultation with one of our experts.
Savory & Partners is an accredited agent for multiple governments where citizenship by investment is offered. Founded in 1797, the agency has evolved from pharmaceuticals to family assets and legacy protection through second citizenship and residency. The company’s professional, multinational staff is made up of expert advisors who have guided thousands of clients, including many North African investors, on their journey to find the most suitable CBI program for them. The Savory & Partners team will be happy to answer your enquiries in English, Arabic, Farsi, French and Spanish.
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