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Poland's citizenship by descent question. Polish great-great grandfather arrived in the USA as a kid.

17 Sep 2017 #1
My wife is looking into the possibility of exploring her Polish citizenship by descent, and we are wondering g if anyone here can tell us if we are wasting our time?

The specifics are:
My wife's gr-great grandfather, Karol, was born in Stare Bystre, Poland in 1874.
In 1893, Karol arrived in New York
In 1899, Karol married his wife in the US, she was a Hungarian national
In 1902, my wife's great grandfather, Charles, was born
In 1938, Karol is granted citizenship of the US
In 1940, Charles fathers my wife's grandmother

Is there any chance that she has a chance to obtain citizenship? I seem to get conflicting answers depending on where I get the information from. If there is even a slight chance, we will push forward. Thank you all so much!
17 Sep 2017 #2
Is there any chance that she has a chance to obtain citizenship?

Pretty much no chance at all. You will hear opinions to the contrary, often from people who seek to make money from you. The absolute most important thing to remember is to never give any of them any money until they deliver a passport for you.
OP MattWebb677
17 Sep 2017 #3
While not what we were hoping to hear, I appreciate the honest answer, Harry! Thank you very much!
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,862
17 Sep 2017 #4
i would say not, most countries have 'patriality' eg you can be a citizen and have a passport if your father , or sometimes grandfather , was born there. eg I am a citizen of Ireland as well as the UK as my father was born there.

You can usually find this information online.
from what u have said, your wife is seeking citizenship on the basis of a great great great grandfather on the matrilineal side? I think she pretty much knows the answer to that, please do not part with any cash to anyone who gives u false hope.
OP MattWebb677
17 Sep 2017 #5
Yes, that is the side that she was seeking citizen by descent from, only because we were told that Poland has very liberal laws about how far back the family line can go. I read into it, and I didn't think there was a path to citizenship, although the laws do seem more relaxed than most places. But she contacted someone over there who swore she was eligible. As you and others have said, probably my to make some money!
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,862
17 Sep 2017 #6

this link seems to be informative, matt.
OP MattWebb677
17 Sep 2017 #7
Thank you for the link! Ironically the person who told us that my wife was eligible commented on that article. He claimed that the ancestory passed on to my wife's grandmother, through her gr-grandfather, and gr-gr-grandfather. He claimed that even though her gr-grandfather was born here, he was a Polish citizen based on the fact that he was under 21 in 1920, and the fact that his father wasn't officially a citizen of the US until 1938. Again, I don't buy it, but he swears it's the case.

Off topic, my wife and I are heading to Ireland next year! We can't wait. :)
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,862
17 Sep 2017 #8
he swears it's the case.

well as long as he not asking you for cash to prove it....

Have a great time in Ireland!
Ziutek 9 | 160
17 Sep 2017 #9
As far as I understand it, the situation is as follows. Citizenship was assigned on the basis of the 1920 citizenship law, which said that anyone born on the territory of what had just become Poland, and had not taken citizenship elsewhere, was entitled to Polish citizenship. This would have applied to Karol until 1938, when he acquired US citizenship. Any of Karol's descendants born between 1918 and 1938 would also have had it. However, I don't think Charles would have benefited because he was born on foreign soil BEFORE Karol himself obtained Polish citizenship. I could be wrong and I think it is worth checking, because if you can establish that Charles had Polish citizenship and that it wasn't renounced in any subsequent generations, then your wife would also have it by descent.
OP MattWebb677
17 Sep 2017 #10
Thats exactly why I posted here, hoping to get a REAL honest opinion, not one fueled by money. He told us that he would do all the work for us, for a fee, of course. No thanks!

Thank you for the well wishes! I don't think we are going to want to leave!!
OP MattWebb677
17 Sep 2017 #11
In theory, since Karol was still a Polish citizen until 1938, wouldn't Charles be as well? Or did the birth on American soil cancel that out?
17 Sep 2017 #12
Karol was still a Polish citizen until 1938

Unless he applied for Polish citizenship, he was never a Polish citizen. And even if he did but you don't have paperwork proving it, your wife has no claim. And even if he did and you have the paperwork, he would have most probably been stripped of his Polish citizenship on his 55th birthday for failing to complete his national service, with citizenship then being stripped from his children and wife too.
Ziutek 9 | 160
17 Sep 2017 #13
The basic principle is that if your parent is a Polish citizen when you are born, you are also a Polish citizen. You don't have to apply for citizenship - you already have it. All you need to do is have it confirmed if there is any doubt. Obviously, people born before the foundation of the Second Republic are an edge case and there the rule was that if you had not other nationality but were settled in Poland in 1920 or born there you were Polish. I would guess, this means that Charles was not Polish because Karol was not a citizen when he was born ie the 1920 act was not retroactive (and Charles wasn't settled or born in Poland). Harry is right that Karol would probably have lost his citizenship through lack of military service in 1929, but Charles would have been an adult by then so this would not have affected him. However the key point seems to be that he was not born a citizen of Poland simply because at the time of his birth, it didn't exist.
OP MattWebb677
18 Sep 2017 #14
Thank you guys, very much! Again, not the answer we were wanting, but at least we can put this to bed. We appreciate all the responses!
Ziutek 9 | 160
18 Sep 2017 #15
You are welcome. I would just say I am not an expert at all, so it may still be worth consulting a professional, but at least you will know what questions to ask.
19 Sep 2017 #16
[Moved from]: Great grandparents immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1927...citizenship by descent?

I have a similar question - my great grandfather and grandmother were born in Poland in 1897 and landed in Canada in 1927. My grandmother was born in Canada in 1929. Would she have derived citizenship from either of her parents and then passed through to my mother and then to me? Or is that a major shot in the dark? Thanks in advance!

My great grandfather and great grandmother were born in Poland in 1897 and landed in Canada in 1927. My grandmother was born in Canada in 1929. Both of my great grandparents became naturalized Canadian citizens in 1934 and 1935, respectively, when my grandmother would have only been a child. From the 1920 law I've read about after Poland became its own country...I'm thinking their choice to become Canadian renounced/broke the line of Polish citizenship. Would my grandmother have any claim? I'm thinking not but thought I'd ask those more knowledgable, here. Thanks in advance.
Ziutek 9 | 160
19 Sep 2017 #17
If you've got the documentation, I think you have a good chance.
Dirk diggler 10 | 4,585
20 Sep 2017 #18
No. To my understanding the polish blood laws as far as citizenship is concerned is if your parent(s) and possibly grandparent(s) are/were polish citizens and you can prove it. Contact the embassy or consulate for the most accurate info.
30 Oct 2017 #19
This is along the lines...

My maternal grandparents (GF born Ostrow, August 1924; GM born Ostrow, August 1923), left Poland in 1945/1946 for Canada. They became Canadian citizens in 1949. I've lots of documents and stamped stuff from Poland.

I am beginning the process of obtaining Polish citizenship, and I've a couple questions.

1) My mother does not have Polish citizenship. Does the bloodline mean she must get it first before I am able to apply?
2) If 1 is correct, do you think we'd be able to apply at the same time?
3) I understand each case is different, but approximately how much money do you think I'll be spending on this? I'm only looking to become a citizen and to get the passport in a few years.

4) Again, I understand, each case is different, but approximately, how long do you think this process will take to obtain citizenship?
5) Where can I find a list of documents that will be needed to support who I am?
Ziutek 9 | 160
30 Oct 2017 #20
When was your mother born?
30 Oct 2017 #21
My mother was born in 1956 in Canada.
Ziutek 9 | 160
30 Oct 2017 #22
My understanding is that by becoming naturalised Canadian citizens in 1949 they renounced their Polish citizenship before your mother was born. This means that she did not inherit it. See under Loss Criteria here:
gjene 14 | 204
7 Nov 2017 #23
MattWebb, I do not know if you are following this post of yours still. Check the website known as
Then find the forums link and then click on Poland. Then click on the immigration Poland - polska and look for the polish citizenship confirmation (part 3). You should be able to find answers to your questions there or in the other 2 parts. But in order to post, you will need to have an account. Also, check the citizenship act of 1920 and 1951. good luck
20 May 2018 #24
born in Stare Bystre, Poland in 1874

Probably Polish. Polish citizenship depends on his father, not where he was born. His birth certificate may be recreated by the Polish court. Recreation takes about a year to get a court date. This may or may not be needed.

In 1899, Karol married his wife in the US, she was a Hungarian national

marriage messes up a woman's citizenship, but not a man's.

In 1902, my wife's great grandfather, Charles, was born

This was before the 1920 act. Not real sure here. He was born to a Polish citizen, but his US citizenship is due to birth and not naturalization. The military rule may apply to him.

In 1938, Karol is granted citizenship of the US

Happened after Charles turned 21, therefore should not affect Charles. Also, Karol is still Polish if he's eligible for Polish military service.

In 1940, Charles fathers my wife's grandmother

If Charles retained his citizenship then his daughter became a Polish citizen at birth. The next generation will get the citizenship of their father if she is married to the father. If she is not married to the father then the next generation gets her citizenship. Depending on your state and your lawyer you may be able to get a birth certificate amended to show that the parents were not married. (Form me it was about finding the right lawyer. I think having a lawyer in the county where my father was born was the key. Every state is different of course.)

Sorry, if your wife was born after the 1951 act came into effect (Jan 19, 1951) then her parent's marriage is not an issue and she could obtain Polish citizenship from her mother
Pan T. K.
21 May 2018 #25
Polish citizenship depends on his father, not where he was born. His birth certificate may be recreated by the Polish court.

There never was one. These were just birth records recorded in church archives. The question is whether it can be proved that he or his son had the right of residency in Poland before WWI, (i.e., the partitioned territories that became the Second Republic), regardless of where they emigrated, or through another international treaty such that they become citizens of Poland by the 1920 Polish Citizenship Law.. Essentially, it must be proved that the family had a right of return, even though it wasn't exercised. (Records of old WWI draft notices sent abroad would prove it.) This could get tricky since the archives aren't all open, but under Tusk, the evidentiary presumptions were reversed just when foreign born Poles became interested in returning to Poland and the E.U.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
21 May 2018 #26
Yes Chris, we know that you hold a deep grudge against Donald Tusk for the fact that the government started actually complying with the law. The law cannot rely on "presumptions", but rather hard documented evidence to support your claim to Polish citizenship.
OsiekRypin - | 1
26 May 2018 #27
Every one of my eight great-grandparents were born in Poland (inside the currently established borders of Poland). There is no way I could be more Polish by blood - I have the records to show it. But all left Poland before 1921. Is there any option for me to gain citizenship in Poland based on my heritage?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
27 May 2018 #28
Nope. You can get permanent residency in Poland based on belonging to the Polish nation, and after 3 years living and working in Poland, you can apply for Polish citizenship. You'll also have to pass an exam in Polish, but for someone who wants Polish citizenship so he/she can live in Poland, it won't be a problem, right? :)

Permanent residency will allow you to live and work here in Poland freely, too.
Pan T. K.
27 May 2018 #29
Every one of my eight great-grandparents were born in Poland (inside the currently established borders of Poland)

The issue isn't necessarily if any of your great-grandparents were born inside Poland's current borders, but if they held Polish citizenship from the Second Republic, or were Western Slavs from former German territory who were made Polish citizens after WWII. The documents you will need are official Polish records with all of the right stamps, etc., and your claim may hinge on whether or not a male ancestor completed his compulsory military service to Poland. You will need to provide more details to clarify your claim. Refer to the 1920 Polish Citizenship Law and its subsequent revisions which are available online. Citizenship was only passed in the female line for legitimate births after 1951.

Ignore the trolls here who don't want you to succeed, but it is possible. However, be prepared to pay an attorney, (not an agent) and possibly a genealogist to get your passport. It can take some time to get a favorable result.
mafketis 37 | 10,915
27 May 2018 #30
Ignore the trolls here who don't want you to succeed

If he wants to come to Poland then he can easily get permanent residence and then citizenship and I completely support that.

A person who just wants a Polish passport as a personal souvenir or a ticket to green pastures is a different issue.

Home / Law / Poland's citizenship by descent question. Polish great-great grandfather arrived in the USA as a kid.
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