Citizenship by descent is one of the most affordable ways to obtain a second passport that offers great benefits. Many people miss out on citizenship by descent because their family tree goes back too far to qualify. However, there are nine European citizenship programs that allow individuals to claim citizenship by descent that goes beyond the initial two generations of parents and grandparents.
What is citizenship by descent?
Citizenship by descent refers to acquiring citizenship based on the nationality or ancestry of one’s parents or grandparents. This means that if your parents or grandparents are citizens of a particular country, you can claim citizenship by descent even if you were not born in that country.
Luxembourg has a relatively small diaspora, but if an individual has Luxembourgish ethnicity, they can claim citizenship by descent by going back to their grandparents. If they have a paternal ancestor, they can go back further than that. While Luxembourg may not be the most popular citizenship by descent program, it is still a great option for those who qualify. Luxembourg has a high standard of living, excellent healthcare, and a stable political environment. The country is also part of the European Union, which allows citizens to live, work, and travel within the EU.
Poland is a popular country for citizenship by descent because there are over 30 million people of Polish ancestry around the world. Poland allows individuals to go back to the founding of the Second Polish Republic for citizenship by descent. There is no limit on how far back individuals can go, as long as their ancestors were citizens of Poland at the time. Obtaining Polish citizenship can take a while, and the process can be complicated, but it is worth it for the benefits that come with a Polish passport. Polish citizens can travel visa-free to the United States, which is a significant advantage.
Ireland is another popular country for citizenship by descent because there are approximately 80 million people who potentially qualify for Irish citizenship. Individuals can claim citizenship by descent through their parents or grandparents, and in limited circumstances, they can go back to their great grandparents. To be eligible, individuals must be registered in the foreign birth register. Irish citizenship is highly desirable because it offers many benefits, including the ability to live and work in the European Union and travel visa-free to many countries.
Italy is estimated to have around 83-85 million people of Italian ancestry around the world. Italy allows individuals to claim citizenship by descent as long as Italy existed. Individuals can go back further than grandparents, potentially even beyond. While obtaining Italian citizenship by descent can be a long and complicated process, it is worth it for the benefits that come with an Italian passport. Italian citizens can live, work, and travel within the European Union and enjoy visa-free travel to many countries worldwide.
Hungary is an interesting case for citizenship by descent because the United States canceled its visa waiver program with Hungary for Hungarian citizens not born in Hungary. However, if individuals can prove their Hungarian ethnicity, they can claim citizenship by descent. Hungary has over a million people who have been approved for citizenship by descent since they opened up their laws about a dozen years ago. Individuals can go back to great grandparents or beyond, and while there are no official language requirements, some cases have had language requirements. Despite the challenges, Hungarian citizenship by descent is highly desirable because it offers the ability to live, work, and study anywhere in the European Union.
Bulgaria is a popular country for citizenship by descent, particularly for people from the non-EU Balkans with ethnic Bulgarian. Bulgaria has no limit on citizenship by descent if individuals are of Bulgarian ethnicity. However, Bulgaria does not have a visa waiver program for access to the United States, and the country is not part of the Schengen area. Despite this, Bulgarian citizenship is still highly desirable because it allows citizens to live, work, and travel within the European Union.
To obtain Latvian citizenship by descent, individuals need to provide proof of their ancestry, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, and naturalization certificates for their ancestors going back several generations. This can be particularly difficult for those with ancestors who lived in rural areas or who moved frequently. However, with patience and persistence, it is possible to track down the necessary documents and claim Latvian citizenship by descent.
Lithuania is another country that allows individuals to claim citizenship by descent up to and including great grandparents if they were citizens of the republic between 1918 and 1940 or if they had left before Lithuania regained independence in the 90s. However, it’s important to note that Lithuania has some restrictions on dual citizenship for natural-born citizens, which may impact those claiming citizenship by descent depending on their individual circumstances.