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Reinstatement of Polish citizenship

Reinstatement of Polish citizenship

The Polish citizenship is acquired by birth, through the reinstatement, restoration, naturalisation or granting procedure. The process of reinstating Polish citizenship, as in many other countries that have suffered from Tsarist oppression, is a rather long process.

It should be noted that Polish citizenship may be inherited, even if a person was not born on the territory of Poland. Descendants of Polish nationals, who left the country before its independence, may apply for acquisition of Polish citizenship.

Already in the early 1820s, people emigrated from Poland to such countries as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and South America. The earliest emigrants from Poland under the Russian control were from the Suwalki and Lomza districts, the majority of which was comprised of Jews. Most of the early emigrants to the USA have settled in Texas, Michigan, and in the area of Chicago. Emigration was not huge until 1854, a larger wave of Polish emigration began in 1870.

Most of the later emigrants departed from the southern Poland controlled by Austria and from the Russian Poland, and the majority of them went to the USA. During 1900–1915, a vast majority of Poles settled in Chicago, New York, Connecticut, New York State, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Polish immigration expanded even further to the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Israel, and Australia, as well as through the entire former USSR.

Thus, millions of citizens of the USA, South America countries, Israel and Australia, whose grandparents left Poland, can be found in the world. Although most emigrants have lost contacts with Poland, nevertheless, pursuant to Polish laws, Polish citizenship may be reinstated to individuals having Polish ancestors, i.e. to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of Poles, after proving the conditions for reinstatement of Polish citizenship, they may apply for reinstatement of Polish citizenship.

Applications for the reinstatement of Polish citizenship must be based on documentary evidence of ancestors who were Polish citizens residing on the territory of Poland on 20 January 1920. Persons living on the territory of Poland on 20 January 1920 are considered to be Polish citizens (although there were exceptions) and their descendants have the opportunity to reinstate Polish citizenship.

As for citizenship of minors, this has been and still is a matter of parental rights, thus, applications must be based on ancestors, who were Polish citizens over the age of 18. If the ancestors left Poland as minors, the application must be based on citizenship of their parents. Therefore, in such cases, it is necessary to clarify the age of persons who left Poland and other facts or even details about their further life outside the territory of Poland. An exception shall be applied if the person was born before Poland regained its independence, in such a case, the application may be based on his/her rights, even though he/she left Poland as a minor.

In accordance with Polish laws, children born before 19 January 1951 inherited their rights to citizenship, taking into account the following facts:
- If a child was born in marriage – citizenship of his/her father must be taken into consideration;
- If the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth (i.e. no marriage was concluded at the time of the child’s birth) - the mother’s citizenship is of vital importance.

It is worth mentioning that Polish adult citizens were not allowed to have dual citizenship until 19 January 1951 and the acquisition of citizenship of another state resulted in the loss of existing Polish citizenship. This shows that every Polish citizen, who born before 19 January 1933 and became a citizen of another state before 19 January 1951, has lost Polish citizenship. The descendants of such persons, who have lost Polish citizenship in this way, no longer have grounds to apply for reinstatement of Polish citizenship.

An exception only applied to men who were born before 19 January 1933 and acquired citizenship of another state before 19 January 1951. They were allowed not to lose Polish citizenship, provided they met the following two conditions:
1. They were born after 19 January 1901 (unless they were officers of the Polish army, then - born after 19 January 1891);
2. They did not join the army of that country to which they had immigrated before 19 January 1951.

When applying for reinstatement of Polish citizenship, the applicant is obliged to collect and submit documents evidencing the facts about having ancestors in Poland, and other conditions.