What is the difference between granting Polish citizenship and being recognized as a Polish citizen?

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Grant of Polish citizenship, commonly called naturalization, is one of the ways of acquiring Polish citizenship by a foreigner. According to Article 18 of the current Act on Polish Citizenship, the President of the Republic of Poland may grant Polish citizenship to any foreigner upon an individual’s request.

Recognition as a Polish citizen is a completely different institution from naturalization and constitutes a separate way of obtaining Polish citizenship.

Who can apply for a Grant of Polish citizenship and who can apply for Recognition as a Polish citizen?

As far as granting citizenship is concerned, the answer is very simple – any foreigner can apply for Polish citizenship.

The current legal regulations do not specify any rules or requirements for naturalization apart from the application and the legislator does not limit in any way the access to acquiring Polish citizenship in that way. In addition to that, the Polish Constitution does not set out the prerequisites for granting citizenship either.

The situation is completely different in the case of recognition as a Polish citizen, because according to the Polish Citizenship Act, a Polish citizen is considered to be:

  1. foreigner residing continuously on the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 3 years based one a permanent residence permit, a residence permit for a long-term EU resident, or the right of permanent residence, who has a stable and regular source of income in the Republic of Poland and the legal title to occupy a dwelling 
  2. foreigner residing continuously on the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 2 years based on a permanent residence permit, a residence permit for a long-term European Union resident, or the right of permanent residence, who: a) has been married to a Polish citizen for at least 3 years or b) does not have any citizenship; 
  3. foreigner residing continuously on the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 2 years based on a permanent residence permit obtained in connection with having a refugee status granted in the Republic of Poland 
  4. minor foreigner residing in the territory of the Republic of Poland based on a permanent residence permit, a residence permit for a long-term European Union resident, or a permanent residence permit, one of whose parents is a Polish citizen and the other parent who is not a Polish citizen has agreed to this recognition 
  5. minor foreigner residing in the territory of the Republic of Poland based onon the basis of a permanent residence permit, a residence permit for a long-term EU resident, or the right of permanent residence, of whom at least one parent has been restored Polish citizenship and the other parent who is not a Polish citizen has agreed to this recognition 
  6. foreigner residing continuously and legally in the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 10 years, who meets all of the following conditions: a) holds a permanent residence permit, a residence permit for a long-term resident of the European Union or a right of permanent residence, b) has a stable and regular source of income in the Republic of Poland and a legal title to occupy a dwelling;
  7. foreigner residing continuously on the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least a year based on a permanent residence permit, which obtained in connection with Polish ancestry or the Card of the Pole. 

In both cases, the procedures start only at the request of the person applying for Polish citizenship. It is easy to see one of the differences between the two modes. The application for Polish citizenship can be filed by anyone, whereas an application for recognition as a Polish citizen is for a narrow group of foreigners.

Whose authority is it to issue decisions in both modes?

Grant of Polish citizenship, takes place in the form of a written decision. Such a consent is issued by the President of the Republic of Poland. He does not act as a public administration body but as the Head of the Polish State, symbolizing its majesty and sovereignty.

That means the President of the Republic of Poland is not limited by any conditions and is not a subject of any control. No legal remedies (appeal, motion for reconsideration of the case, complaint about inaction) are provided by the current legal regulations in this respect.

In other words, you cannot appeal the President’s decision and it ’is final. However, you can lodge a new application in case of rejection.

The decision on recognition as a Polish citizen is within the competence of a provincial governor and has the form of an administrative decision issued in accordance with the Code of Administrative Procedure.

Does the foreigner need to know the Polish language while applying for Polish citizenship?

While filing an application for Polish citizenship, you do not have to prove your Polish language skills on any level, which does not mean that it is not welcome.

On the other hand, a foreigner applying for recognition as a Polish citizen is obliged to have the proficiency in the Polish language confirmed by an official certification on at least B1 language proficiency level or a certificate of graduation from a school in the Republic of Poland or a certificate of graduation from a school abroad with Polish as the language of instruction.

What is the difference between granting Polish citizenship and being recognized as a Polish citizen?

Grant of Polish citizenship, commonly called naturalization, is one of the ways of acquiring Polish citizenship by a foreigner. According to Article 18 of the current Act on Polish Citizenship, the President of the Republic of Poland may grant Polish citizenship to any foreigner upon an individual’s request.

Recognition as a Polish citizen is a completely different institution from naturalization and constitutes a separate way of obtaining Polish citizenship.

General concept of citizenship

In a dictionary of the Polish language, the word ‘citizenship’ is translated as a state affiliation connected with certain rights and duties defined by the law of a given state, whereas the word ‘citizen’ is specified as a member of the society of that state having certain rights and duties defined by law. This encyclopedic definition of citizenship approximates the meaning of the term in the colloquial sense.