Restoration of Polish citizenship is essentially a new legal institution that appeared in the Polish legal order only with the newest, currently binding act on Polish citizenship of 2 April 2009, which came into force on 15 August 2012. Therefore, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of that form of acquiring Polish citizenship!
What is the restoration of Polish citizenship? It is the easiest to explain the essence of this institution in terms of its legal effects – in that way we can say that it is a form of acquiring Polish citizenship – apart from granting citizenship and recognition as a Polish citizen. A person who has acquired Polish citizenship in one of the above three ways becomes a Polish citizen the moment the act of acquisition of Polish citizenship becomes legally binding:
- a decision of the President if it has been granted,
- a decision of the Voivode if it has been recognized,
- and finally a decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs if it has been restored.
Thus, restoration is fundamentally different from confirmation of Polish citizenship, whose legal effect is a formal confirmation of a legal state that existed earlier by force of law alone, while the decision to confirm Polish citizenship only enabled the person to exercise the rights arising from it. The person whose Polish citizenship was confirmed does not become a Polish citizen on the day the confirmation decision becomes final – usually he/she was a Polish citizen from birth! But only after obtaining that decisioncan he formally enjoy the status of a Polish citizen.
In practice, the difference between confirmation of Polish citizenship and its restoration is most evident to persons whose children were born in the period between losing Polish citizenship and its restoration. Since the parent did not have Polish citizenship in that period, the children born in that period could not, in accordance with blood law, acquire Polish citizenship by birth.
The essence of the institution of restoration of Polish citizenship is that it can be used only by the person who had Polish citizenship in the past, but who lost it due to various circumstances essentially beyond his/her control. Thus, the restoration of citizenship opens the way to a return to citizenship that was often lost against the person’s will, also for reasons of a political nature. It was for reasons of a political nature that some groups of Polish citizens were forced to emigrate, and a contemporary critical evaluation of those historical circumstances prompted the Polish Parliament to create a legal way for those who so desired to regain Polish citizenship.
What are the conditions of restoring Polish citizenship?
The first of them is of absolute character and must always be fulfilled:
- loss of Polish citizenship must have occurred before 1 January 1999 – if it happened later, Polish citizenship cannot be restored.
At the same time, the loss of Polish citizenship had to happen on the basis of one of the enumerated premises, regulated by the provisions of all the three previously binding acts on Polish citizenship: of 1920, 1951 and 1962:
- under the provisions of the Citizenship of the Polish State Act of 1920, if the loss of Polish citizenship occurred on the basis of:
- acquisition of foreign citizenship;
- accepting public office in a foreign state;
- entering into military service in a foreign state
– also if Polish citizenship was lost due to the above mentioned circumstances concerning the man by his wife and/or minor children.
2. under the provisions of the Polish Citizenship Act of 1951, if the loss of Polish citizenship happened:
- as a result of acquiring a foreign citizenship after having obtained a permit from a competent Polish authority to change citizenship;
- as a result of being deprived of Polish citizenship.
– if Polish citizenship was lost due to the above mentioned circumstances concerning the parents, also if minor children who remained under their parental authority lost Polish citizenship.
3. under the provisions of the Polish Citizenship Act of 1962, if the loss of Polish citizenship happened:
- as a result of acquiring foreign citizenship with a permission from a proper Polish authority to change citizenship;
– also if Polish citizenship was lost by minor children remaining under their parental authority due to the above mentioned circumstances concerning the parents.
- by filing an affidavit by a Polish citizen (women) who has acquired foreign citizenship as a result of marriage and having that affidavit accepted by a competent Polish authority;
- as a result of being deprived of Polish citizenship.
The formal conditions of the restoration of Polish citizenship include the need to file an application for the restoration of citizenship that meets the requirements set out in the regulations. Apart from the applicant’s personal data, one of the formal conditions of the application is to indicate the circumstances of the loss of Polish citizenship and to enclose the documents held to prove those circumstances. The competent authority to process such an application is the Minister of Internal Affairs, however, persons permanently residing abroad submit the application for restoration of their citizenship to a Polish consul, who is obliged to forward the application to the Minister.
The provisions of the administrative procedure require the application to be considered within a month, and in particularly complicated cases – within two months.
Polish citizenship is restored on the date when the decision to restore Polish citizenship becomes final, i.e. after two weeks from the date of its delivery to the applicant. The applicant may then apply for a Polish passport.