Children’s right to Polish citizenship – parents will not decide

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The citizenship of a child born abroad is a result of the citizenship of his parents and the right applicable in the country of his birth. Each country individually decides in its legislation who is such country’s citizen, therefore we cannot avoid collisions between different judicial systems as regards acquisition of citizenship. In many cases a large population proves the power of a given country. Countries having numerous citizens outside their borders apply the right of blood (ius sanguinis). In such a case a child acquires citizenship of the country of which at least one parent is citizen, irrespective of the place of birth. On the contrary, the right of soil (ius soli) is applied in countries which were in the past a final destination for numerous immigrants, among others in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, United States, Uruguay. According to such rule, a child acquires citizenship of a country on whose territory the child is born, and the citizenship of parents is irrelevant.

Like in many other European countries, Polish law assumed the right of blood, however the right of soil is also applied as a supplementary rule – if a child born in the territory of Poland did not acquire any other citizenship. The right of blood, which is predominant in Europe, is also supported by European integration, in particular freedom of movement within the Schengen area and a free choice of country of residence and employment.

The double citizenship issue is taken into consideration by a majority of those who intend to live abroad for a longer period or permanently, especially when children are born. Dual citizenship has become standard, and regulations in many countries, including Poland, do not prevent their citizens from that. During nearly 100 years Polish law regarding citizenship evaluated from the ban on dual citizenship and automatic proceedings regarding loss of Polish citizenship (e.g. because of serving in foreign armed forces) to lack of possibility to deprive an individual of Polish citizenship contrary to his will, and acceptance of dual citizenship. The regulations introduced as of 15 August 2012 abolished the rule of choosing only Polish citizenship for a child, leaving to the child to decide about it in the future. When one of parents is Polish, and the other is a foreigner, they have no right to choose for their child, soon after his birth, only the citizenship of a foreign country, as was the case in the years from 1951 to 2012. In those years, many parents having mixed citizenship, residing mainly in Scandinavia, Austria, Germany and former Yugoslavia resigned from Polish citizenship for their child as a result of unanimous statements made in Polish consulates. Currently, parents may only apply on behalf of their child for renunciation of Polish citizenship, however the final decision in this scope will be made by the President of the Republic of Poland. A child acquires Polish citizenship at birth if one of his parents is a Polish citizen. In the case of an illegitimate child where only the father is a Polish citizen, the paternity must be established before the child is one year old, in order for the child to acquire Polish citizenship by operation of law. Each parent of mixed-citizenship couples after registration of the child’s birth may apply to Polish authorities to confirm that the minor has Polish citizenship, and jointly apply for a Polish passport for their child.

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