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Polish Citizenship by Descent Question - Polish Citizenship Acts

nchris89 1 | -
14 Dec 2017 #1
Hi there,

I am trying to obtain confirmation of Polish citizenship by descent through my great-grandparents (my paternal grandmother's parents) and have spent a fair bit of time researching the relevant Polish citizenship laws. I would really appreciate it if someone could confirm my understanding of the laws. I have my great-grandparents' Polish passports, and their Polish marriage certificate (in Latin) and baptismal certificate (in Latin) and I have the relevant Canadian government documents for each generation.

Both of great-grandparents were born in Poland (then Galicia). My great-grandfather was born in 1896 and my great-grandmother was born in 1902. They continued to reside in Poland until they immigrated to Canada in 1928. My grandmother was born in Canada in 1929, therefore automatically obtaining Canadian citizenship. Neither of her parents were naturalized Canadian citizens when she was born. My great-grandparents were naturalized in 1935. From what I understand, my grandmother would have been born a Polish citizen because both of her parents were Polish citizens. When my great-grandfather acquired Canadian citizenship in 1935 he would have normally lost his Polish citizenship, however the 1920 Polish Citizenship Act provided an exemption because he was of eligible military service age (18-50). He was 39 years old in 1935. If he did not lose his citizenship in 1935, my grandmother (then 6 years old) retained her Canadian citizenship. Would my great-grandmother have also retained her citizenship because she was married to a Polish citizen?

My grandmother married my grandfather (Canadian) in 1954. Based on the 1951 Polish Citizenship Act Article 5, she did not automatically lose her Polish citizenship when she married my grandfather. My father was born in Canada in 1958. I believe that under Article 9 he would have been born a Polish citizen. My parents were married in 1987 and I was born in 1989 in Canada. My mother is not Polish, although she may be entitled to it through her own parents.I believe that under 1962 Polish Citizenship Act Article 6, I was born a Polish citizen through my father.

Please let me know what you think! I could also try through my mother (her father was born in Poland) but we do not have his Polish documents and they might be difficult to obtain because the area he was born is now in the Ukraine.

Thank you.
DominicB - | 2707
14 Dec 2017 #2
Please let me know what you think!

I think that if you want useful information, the only way you will get is by paying a good attorney with lots of experience in Polish immigration law, and not by asking on any anonymous internet forum.
terri 1 | 1661
15 Dec 2017 #3
Your problem is that you do not have documents proving the citizenship. You may be able to get them from parish records (churches of the locality where people were born), otherwise it's going to be very hard.

It would be simpler, if your mother had her citizenship confirmed, then you could get it through her entitlement.
The best way I can suggest is to ask someone competent at the Embassy or to correspond with someone in Warsaw.
Rights Watchdog
19 Dec 2017 #4
The OP should wait. Please understand that pre-war passport records in Poland have been hard to find. Unfortunately, in 2009 the Tusk government passed a law ostensibly to set procedures for foreign born Poles to claim citizenship. What it did, however, was reverse the burdens of proof for the process. Now, under present practice, the child of a Polish citizen born abroad is not presumed to be a Polish citizen, especially if the family recognised the Polish government in exile in London as the legitimate government of Poland, and refused to register with the commies. This violates several points of the 1997 Polish Constitution including the right to live abroad, political discrimination against anti-communist families, and depriving foreign born Poles of citizenship without a formal renunciation. I am aware that a petition has been made to Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski to end this discrimination by a group of affected Poles born in exile. The OP should join the petition and write to Pan Kaczynski:

Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski
Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc
ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86
02-018 Warszawa
tel.: (+48) 22 62 15 035
fax: (+48) 22 62 16 767
Rights Watchdog
19 Dec 2017 #5
the 1920 Polish Citizenship Act provided an exemption because he was of eligible military service age (18-50).

The exemption applied only if he had not completed his military service to Poland, or if he had been excused from service. (Most young men were required to serve in the military at 21.) To determine this, you would need to request your great-grandfather's military records, but under present practice he is presumed to have lost Polish citizenship regardless. However, under present law, you do have a right to settle in Poland, but it would take years before you can become a naturalised Polish citizen.
Taxpaying voter
19 Dec 2017 #6
however the 1920 Polish Citizenship Act provided an exemption because he was of eligible military service age (18-50).

Yes, but when he reached the age of 50 and had not completed his military service, he would have been stripped of his citizenship and so would his wife and children. I think there may have been an exemption for situations in which that would have made a wife or child stateless, but in the case you describe this does not apply.

Please let me know what you think!

I think you need to focus on why you want a Polish passport. The least painful way will be to simply live here and naturalise. The other way will probably take about as long and will cost a lot more money and time.

it would take years before you can become a naturalised Polish citizen.

Three years on permanent residency if he isn't married, two years if he is. Assuming of course that he pays all of his taxes and otherwise keeps his nose clean.
Rights Watchdog
19 Dec 2017 #7
As long as your mother was born after 19 January 1951, that may be the better option. The petition also requests that the Polish government address issues related to getting documents relevant to citizenship from the archives, indexing these records, making them freely available, etc. For the people of the Kresy who were scattered after WWII and the ethnic cleansing, learning where to find records, if they still exist, is a particular problem. The change in the burden of proof enacted by Tusk's 2009 law affects the Kresowiacy disproportionately.

My great-grandfather was born in 1896.

This great-grandfather would have turned 21 in 1917, during WWI. It is unlikely that he avoided military service either to Galicia or some other army. Even if he had, the commies would have likely disowned him by 1948, since Polonia remained loyal to the London government.

The least painful way will be to simply live here and naturalise.

For most Poles born in the West, they can make more money working abroad. So unless they have retired, working in Poland is financially undesirable. It is also absurd to ask someone who was born a Polish citizen to naturalise because of a discriminatory ex post facto law to get a passport.

Assuming of course that he pays all of his taxes and otherwise keeps his nose clean.

A frequent proble encountered by ethnic Poles returning to work in Poland has been employers who deduct Polish taxes but never pay them. This was especially true in less populated provinces where the employer would split the money with the tax controller. Complaints were met with, "It's none of your business if they paid the taxes." This could cause tax problems both in Poland and in the employee's nation of birth since no record existed that he/she ever paid any taxes, even though the money was deducted.
delphiandomine 86 | 17843
19 Dec 2017 #8
Pan Kaczynski:

Your lack of knowledge of Poland shows when calling him "Pan", a title not used in Poland towards him.

Incidentally, the Polish government has just correctly tightened up the rules on the issuing of the Karta Polaka, ensuring that a genuine connection with Poland is now required to obtain it. It's no longer enough to pretend to have some connection to a Polonia organisation.

One can only assume that the present Polish government has no interest in handing out Polish citizenship to people of unclear origin.
19 Dec 2017 #9
I promise you it's not worth to kiss any ass for any citizenship, few weeks it will be useless to have any documents and money.. EVERYTHING GOING TO SUCK SO BAD SO BAD !!!
PIgski - | 12
20 Dec 2017 #10
The Chairman and PiS were also requested to stop granting citizenship without renunciation of existing citizenship in cases of naturalization. I doubt that PiS wants any more queer Brits who came to Poland to be close to young children getting citizenship and voting. The law is expected to change shortly.
20 Dec 2017 #11
It looks like you have more Polish queers than England, since you have gay laws since 1933
PIgski - | 12
20 Dec 2017 #12
No, it looks like Britain exported its queers to Poland, and they want to add Polish citizenship too.
20 Dec 2017 #13
I feel disgusted knowing the fact that I was born I Poland, how I wish I was from place like other this **** whole!
Ironside 50 | 12440
20 Dec 2017 #14
feel disgusted knowing the fact that I was born I Poland,

Well clearly you are a Soviet your parents or grandpas were imported from the ?soviet union - should go there, you would fit ...
MaxwellStDog 2 | 7
23 Jan 2018 #15

USA declared alien status c.a. 1919 and Poland's citizenship

I have an obscure technical / legal question regarding the citizenship of aliens who immigrated to the US prior to 1919, who were naturalized after 1919.

Prior to 1919, to the US Government, Polish aliens were either Russian, German or Austrian. In my case, one branch came from the German side, three came from the Russian side.

If an immigrant who arrived before 1919 was not yet naturalized after the establishment of the second Polish Republic, did the US consider them Polish, or did they retain their original citizenship?
sijet 2 | 12
4 Jan 2020 #16

Question about Poland Nationality Act 1920 - foreigners who are of Polish descent

In Article 3 of Polish Nationality Act 1920, it said that citizens of foreign countries "who are of Polish descent" could become Polish citizens if they followed the stipulations of the article. Does anyone know how, during the time of II RP, this "Polish descent" was defined? For example, if someone was already over age 21 in 1920, and they were born in a foreign country but had a parent from the territory which became Poland, could they have become Polish citizens? I know the matter was different for underage children, but I am asking about people who were already adults at the time when the Act came into effect.
4 Jan 2020 #17
if someone was already over age 21 in 1920, and they were born in a foreign country

It would depend if he/she had acquired another citizenship before the founding treaties of the Second Republic. At present, the government is not recognizing people who had dual citizenship in 1920 as citizens, even if minors at the time, although in 1923 the Permanent Court of International Justice of the League of Nations ruled that they were obligated to recognize dual citizens as ONLY Plish citizens if born on the territory of the Second Republic. Consult with a good lawyer specialising in citizenship matter, but it appears unless someone came back before WWII and renounced another citizenship, you would have a difficult time at present. I am aware that a case is now before the Supreme Administrative Court about a minor child born abroad with dual citizenship, but don't think that will help you.
sijet 2 | 12
5 Jan 2020 #18
^ Sorry, maybe I didn't make my question clear. I am not interested in what the Polish government today thinks of those people, I am just asking if they could have become Polish citizens during the time of II RP. I originally asked this question in the History section, because it was a historical query, not a query about modern law, but for some reason my question was merged with this topic...

When I was reading Article 3, my understanding was that foreign-born adults in 1920 could become Polish citizens if they simply renounced their foreign-born citizenship and provided proof of their Polish heritage, but I just wanted to double-check this to make sure I understood it correctly.
5 Jan 2020 #19
The founding treaties of the Second Republic allowed people in Germany, Russia, or the former Hapsburg lands to opt for citizenship in the Second Republic even if born outside its borders. Not many chose this. You might search academic work on the topic for places beyond this, or search the records of the Interior ministry. Do note, that many records from the consulates of the Second Republic abroad have not been repatriated and remain in archives in London or Stanford University in California. By 1940, the government was quite eager to recruit people abroad for its Western army.
sijet 2 | 12
5 Jan 2020 #20
@PTK Thanks, do you know if that also included people born in places like Canada or the USA if they were of Polish descent? My understanding is that they were covered under Article 3 (assuming they returned to Poland and renounced US or Canadian citizenship) but I'm not 100% sure...
10 Jan 2020 #21
That gets tricky when dealing with dual citizens, which were all born in the U.S., and those born after 1914 in Canada. If the founding treaties of the Second Republic made them citizens, then Article 3 shouldn't have applied. As I read the treaties, all from the Hapsburg lands became citizens based on their parents' place of registration, regardless of a second citizenship. Former German citizens could have been required to renounce a second citizenship, but that's dubious for children under 18 since the parents were to decide on citizenship. Former Russian citizens abroad were to have decided within one year on the citizenship of their children, and if orphaned the children had until age 18 to decide. What happens if no one ever decided, is probably that they retained the prior citizenship. That wasde jure. De facto there was hostility to dual citizens. There was an administrative "circular" from 1925 from the Interior and Foreign ministers that those born before 1920 couldn't be citizens. However, I am unaware if that was actually followed in court, as the treaty laws were different from the different parts of the partitions.
sijet 2 | 12
14 Jan 2020 #22
@PTK Are you talking about this circular?

I don't know if it says that those born before 1920 can't be citizens. It says that:

"It is beyond any doubt that children of a person who is settled on The Polish State's territory born in The United States and who were over 21 years-old on January 31, 1920 are not Polish citizens."

But then it also says that:

"Persons who are born in America are Polish citizens if they became polish citizens in the way pointed out in article 3 or obtained polish citizenship in one of ways mentioned in subsections 2-5 of article 4 of the act dated 20th of January 1920 although the American citizenship serves them by birth. Under age children of people who obtained polish citizenship on above mentioned conditions are also polish citizens even if they are American citizens by birth regardless of if they were born before or after the act dated 20th of January 1920 came into force alternately before or after obtaining the polish citizenship on above mentioned titles grounds."

To me, this sounds like adults who were born in America before 1920 could still become Polish citizens if they followed the process of Article 3, while those born before 1920 but who were still underage at the time of the Act could be dual citizens if their parents took Polish citizenship. Or am I interpreting this wrong?
15 Jan 2020 #23
Yes, that is the circular. According to that children born in the U.S. before 1920 were denied citizenship regardless of their age, even if their siblings were recognized as dual citizens. It is legally dubious for several reasons, and it is not clear that it was ever upheld in courts of the Second Republic or if that interpretation changed over time. I know of one precedent that appears to be to the contrary. Also note that relevant age for children stated in all four of the founding treaties of the Second Republic is 18, not 21, and three of the four had different implementation dates over a year and three months apart. It could have been that since only one, The Minorities Treaty, was subject to oversight by the League of Nations, the rest were ignored based upon administrative diktat. It is difficult to know exactly how the courts handled things then, and judicial precedents govern the law, not political announcements. Under present law researching those records is difficult as the government can keep the records sealed for a hundred years or more before it gets released to the archives.
sijet 2 | 12
22 Jan 2020 #24
@PTK I'm sorry, but I don't understand where you see in the circular that people born in the US before 1920 were denied citizenship. Doesn't it clearly state that: "Under age children of people who obtained polish citizenship on above mentioned conditions are also polish citizens even if they are American citizens by birth regardless of if they were born before or after the act dated 20th of January 1920 came into force alternately before or after obtaining the polish citizenship on above mentioned titles grounds."

To me, this seems to plainly state that people born in the US before 1920 could obtain Polish citizenship if they were underage and they were born of people who became Polish citizens, alternatively people born in US before 1920 could become Polish citizens on "above mentioned titles grounds", which included Article 3...
23 Jan 2020 #25
It's confusing, especially if you don't read the original document, and rely on translations from people trying to make money on citizenship claims. In short, the circular states there is a conflict between recognizing the citizenship of minor children with another citizenship, and the statutory and constitutional requirement that a person could only have one citizenship. So, they put forth the argument for and against, before concluding that those born before 1920 could not be recognized as citizens of the Second Republic. (With no persuasive explanation why dual citizenship is acceptable for those born after 1920, but not before...) You have confused the argument for recognizing minor children born before 1920, with the conclusion to the contrary which is being cited by the government, and the precedent from the Supreme Administrative Court. (A better translation of that and other documents may be posted on another site some time soon.) That precedent had been challenged in that court presently, and will be appealed higher if necessary by a law professor in the country. Essentially, what they have concluded is that the Second Republic discriminated against the children of WWI refugees born abroad and their parents, i.e., you Jews can come back, but your children aren't citizens here.

Yes, those children, if denied citizenship, could have renounced a second citizenship and returned, or their parents may have done that, but I don't know that it ever happened. The founding treaties plainly stated it was for the parents to choose a different citizenship, not the government, and the Permanent International Court of Justice in the Hague plainly ruled that people who otherwise met citizenship requirements could not be denied citizenship if they were dual citizens. As I read the treaties, only those over 18 in the former Russian or German lands, could have been denied citizenship if dual citizens. There was no such requirement in the former Hapsburg lands even if over 18 years of age.
sijet 2 | 12
27 Jan 2020 #26
@PTK It sure is confusing... I appreciate you taking the time to try and explain it, although unfortunately I still don't understand a few points. If people born abroad before 1920 could not be Polish citizens, then what was the point of Article 3 of the Citizenship Act 1920? It seems to have been specifically laid out for overseas people who wanted to become Polish citizens after returning to the motherland and renouncing foreign citizenship. It says they "and their progeny" would be recognized as Polish citizens "if they submit proofs of Polish provenance with a declaration they wish to be Polish citizens and they resign from the citizenship of another country to the relevant Polish authority after returning to the Polish State."
PolAmKrakow 3 | 859
28 Jan 2020 #27
I am actually going through this process now. Great Grandparents came to USA in 1917. With all documentation, birth certificates, and official translations of USA documents, Citizenship can be obtained. It takes a little time, and all documents must be in order, but its not too difficult if you have a good attorney. Its not like a foreigner applying for a new citizenship, it is a recognition of citizenship application, and clerks treat them a little differently. Particularly if you can demonstrate existing ties to Poland, such as visiting here, owning property, owning a business, etc.
28 Jan 2020 #28
If people born abroad before 1920 could not be citizens,

No, they could be. If they weren't recognized as citizens by any of the four founding treaties of the Second Republic, then they could have claimed citizenship by their heritage. A person born in the U.S. who was over 18 when the Treaty of Versailles went into effect in 1920, AND of parents from German lands lost to the Second Republic would have needed to apply for naturalisation. How that functioned in practice in the Second Republic is not well known. It is a matter for scholars to explore. There is also a clear line of demarcation between the Second and Third Republics. From its imposition by an occupying army, the Third Republic has been hostile to history of the Second. Even after the fall of communism, there was no purge of communist academics and judges. What may be confusing you is that children under 18 should not have needed to have applied for naturalisation in the Second Republic, since it was a decision for their parents, but the Third claims it was required, even if it really wasn't legally.

The Second Republic was quite different ethnically from the Third. The nation was reborn at Versailles thanks to the Allies, but on its borders it had minorities who were quite hostile to its existence. Yet, even when Germany still claimed people over the border as German citizens, and was secretly arming them in militias, etc., the Second Republic was required by its allies and the Minorities Treaty to recognize them as its own citizens. (That is what the 1923 case from the Permanent Court of International Justice of the League of Nations was about.) Faced with large minorities on the borders lacking loyalty to it, the Second Republic should have wanted to entice ethnic Poles abroad to return, while denying that right as much as possible to non-Poles. That is what I would expect the historical record to show, but I am unaware of and research on the subject from historians or sociologists. Again, I wouldn't accept the validity of research done by communist or former communist academics on the subject.

its not too difficult if you have a good attorney.

A good attorney is required for any citizenship petition in the Third Republic under the laws of the Second Republic. Wait until after a citizenship claim is approved to post about how difficult the process was, especially from an ancestor born abroad with a second citizenship before 1920.
sijet 2 | 12
28 Jan 2020 #29
@PTK Ah, I think I am beginning to understand. Thank you again very much for your explanations, it's a very helpful look into a surprisingly convoluted history.

So, in summary, if I can just be sure I understand correctly now:

During the time of II RP (1920s-30s), foreign adults born before 1920 who were of Polish descent may not have automatically been recognized as Polish citizens, but they could still apply to become Polish citizens under provisions like Article 3. Likewise, if there was an underage foreign-born child whose parents became Polish citizens after 1918, that child could obtain Polish citizenship through their parents even if the child was born before 1920 and had a foreign passport by birth.

Am I correct now?
28 Jan 2020 #30
Am I correct now?

Yes, the citizenship of minor child was always the choice of the parents. Nothing in the treaties supports the conclusion of communists judges and the present government that children didn't have the same citizenship rights as their parents and older or younger siblings in the Second Republic. The issue is before the Supreme Administrative Court at present.

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