On February 16th, almost a year after its first reading of the amendments, the Slovak parliament passed the country’s new Citizenship Act. Presuming the Slovak President signs the amended bill (there is no reason to expect she won’t), the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Slovak or Czechoslovak citizens born on the territory of what is today the Slovak Republic will henceforth be eligible for EU citizenship by descent in Slovakia.
According to Slovak citizenship by descent specialist Parviz Malakouti, writing in Kafkadesk, “an important element is that this qualifying ancestor must have been a citizen of Czechoslovakia at some point.”
The state of Czechoslovakia existed from 1918 (when it declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wake of WWI) and January 1st, 1993, when the Czech and Slovak Republics amicably split into two separate sovereign countries. It is the descendants of those ancestors born during this period on territory that is today part of Slovakia that will become eligible for citizenship in Slovakia and, by extension, the European Union.
The news will be welcomed by an estimated 800,000 potentially eligible Americans (chiefly concentrated in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia) and a further estimated 700,000 Slovak descendants elsewhere; these individuals could now qualify for EU citizenship through their great grandparents, which would grant them the right of settlement across all 27 EU countries. The Slovak passport, moreover, provides visa-free access to 182 destinations globally.
Though some discretion is left to Slovak authorities as to whether to ultimately approve ancestry-based citizenship (in some countries, such as Italy, the citizenship-by-descent laws entitle descendants to naturalization), the law does not require that descendants speak the Slovak language or demonstrate knowledge of Slovak culture.
In his article, Malakouti points out that “technically, the citizenship by descent provision only applies to those who have permitted stay in Slovakia (meaning that they hold a residence permit).” Fortunately, however, applicants will be permitted to apply for such residence permits concurrently with their naturalization applications.
“This concession,” writes Malakouti, “would relieve applicants of the burden to undergo a two-part process (residency and then citizenship), as well as eliminate the need for applicants to have a physical presence in Slovakia as part of their application.”
The detailed requirements on qualifying documentation and procedures remain unpublished, pending the publication of the law but, Malakouti points out, Slovak or Czechoslovak passports of ancestors is likely to make for compelling evidence of Slovak descent. If old passports are not obtainable, other forms of evidence demonstrating the ancestor’s birth in the pertinent territory within the prescribed timeframe are likely to be accepted.
Learn more about European citizenship by descent policies by visiting our EU Citizenship by Descent main page.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.