Citizenship is a legal institution, which means that it is shaped by law. The legal norms that define citizenship are most often referred to as citizenship laws. Laws on citizenship are understood as legal regulations devoted to the issues of having, acquiring, and losing citizenship, as well as the procedures, and bodies responsible for resolving issues related to Polish citizenship.
Citizenship and national law
The basic role of legal citizenship regulation is played by national laws, which result from the principle commonly accepted in international law. What does it mean? The issues of citizenship confirmation should be primarily the domain of their internal laws. Thus, the States may freely determine the ways of acquiring and losing their citizenship without infringing on the sovereignty of other States. What’s more, the issues of acquisition and loss or confirmation of citizenship or loss of another State’s citizenship cannot be regulated in domestic law.
Citizenship and international law
Certain limitations in this area may result from international treaty obligations. This is particularly evident in the Hague Convention of 12th April 1930 on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws. Article 1 of the Hague Convention provides that “[e]ach State shall have the power to define in its nationality legislation who shall be its national. Such legislation shall be accepted by other States if it is consistent with international agreements and with the principles of law generally recognized in the matter of nationality.
Polish citizenship law and regulations
The Law on Citizenship refers to the regulation of Polish citizenship. The regulation dates to the beginnings of the Polish state’s rebirth after World War I. On the rebirth of the Statehood, from the formal point of view, Poland did not have its citizens. As a result of the partitions, the inhabitants of the Polish territories did not hold Polish citizenship, but citizenship of partitioning states. In that situation, the legal regulation of Polish citizenship had to be based on two groups of legal sources: international treaties and conventions and internal normative acts. The Treaties of Versailles of 28th June 1919 were particularly important. They imposed on the successor states of the former partitioning States (Germany and Austria-Hungary), including Poland, the obligation to extend their citizenship to all person’s residents or born on their territory and thus limited the freedom of these States to regulate their citizenship by internal regulations.
Polish citizenship Act from 1920
The legal regulations concerning Polish citizenship were also included in the domestic normative acts, among which the most important was the Act of 20th January 1920 on Citizenship of the Polish State. According to that act, the right to Polish citizenship was granted to every person, irrespective of gender, age, religion, and nationality, who met the conditions outlined in the act.
The Polish citizenship issue was also reflected in the March Constitution of 1921.
Polish citizenship Act from 1951
In the first period after the end of the Second World War, the Act of 20th January 1920 on Citizenship of the Polish State was in force. It was supplemented by many legal acts whose issuance resulted from the necessity of adjusting the legal regulation to the new system of population relations in Poland.
The first normative act which covered in its entirety the issue of Polish citizenship was the Act of 8th January 1951 on Polish citizenship, which repealed the Act of 20th January 1920 on the citizenship of the Polish State as well as several regulations.
Polish citizenship Act from 1962
In 1962, the 1951 Act was replaced by a new legal regulation. It was brought by the Act of 15th February 1962 on Polish citizenship. The Act was based on basic matters and principles as its predecessor, however, introducing some improvements and developing them. It introduced many new solutions that resulted from the practice of the former Act, the use of experience, and the materials of the United Nations Commission on International Law that had dealt with citizenship matters.
Polish citizenship Act from 2009
The legal regulation that is binding today concerning the acquisition, possession, and loss of Polish citizenship and the competence of the authorities in matters in that scope is the Act of 2nd of April 2009. It constitutes, in the strict meaning of the term, the current ‘Polish Citizenship Law’. It should be emphasized, however, that the Polish citizenship law also includes the Constitution of the Republic of Poland on the 2nd of April 1997, which contains very important provisions concerning Polish citizenship. According to Article 34 of the Constitution, Polish citizenship is acquired by birth from parents who are Polish citizens. Other cases of acquiring Polish citizenship are determined by the law – a Polish citizen cannot lose Polish citizenship unless he/she renounces it.