How I got an EU citizenship

If you have read my blog you know I am a dual US and EU citizen. EU citizenship has many benefits believe me. The purpose of this post is to briefly tell you how to have a passport from more than one country, or at least my personal experience on how I achieved this.

First  off EU citizenship from any country is a privilege.  It is not something that is to be taken lightly. It is only for those who have a sincere interest in contributing to the nation they are living and working in. Usually this is reserved for people who have a historical connection or association with the country. My family for example live in Poland since the beginning of the nation. The only reason they left was Poland was partitioned and war was breaking out. After the war they wanted to come back for re-nationalization. However, the politics were too difficult, and so it was I who was repatriated.

I have written a post on how to get a EU citizenship, this is a good starting point. However, beyond that if you have any questions please ask. The following was my story.

10 Steps to EU citizenship

  1. Family tree – My first step was  in Excel create a detailed family tree. Use birth, marriage etc dates and locations. Be detailed but readable. Mine was on one page. It does not have to be a work of art, but it does have to be factual and clear to an ordinary person.
  2. Original documents – Try to collect as much information as you can from original documents. You can get US birth certificates etc no problem. They even have on the form a question why you need it, you can check off dual citizenship. US municipalities get these requests often.  Get your parents and anyone else you can also. Collect all US documents then focus on foreign documents. The Polish government in Warsaw had my grandparents records from 1900 even thought they were from and area which is today Ukraine. I went to the local church priest and found documents. I basically built a case of original documents that supported my family tree. Paper is everything. Before I live in Europe I paid someone, he tried to rip me off I got my money back, when I threatened to sue the middle man. There are many honest people that can help in local countries. I prefer to do things myself.
  3. I got applications from the embassy –  I let the foriegn consulate represntive guide me, as well as talked to the people who worked there to the right government offices to go to. They will tell you what you need.
  4. Legal help – I considered a lawyer but by the time I talked to one I knew more than they did.
  5. EU visa – My first step was a visa. From there I was in the system. I got this based on the right of blood. Jus sanguinis – You are who you are.
  6. Dual citizenship – Unless you want a Ukrainian citizenship, you can keep your US citizenship for almost any country in Europe in the European Union or not. Countries do no care if you are a dual citizenship as long as you obey the laws of the country your in. You are a citizen of that country only, where you are and can not go crying to the USA for help if you get into legal trouble.
  7. Buying a citizenship – You can basically buy a Russian citizenship legally if you have the cash to set up a business, but it is not the way to go. A CIS citizenship is not as good as a EU citizenship. Buying an EU citizenship is not possible.
  8. Getting official translations – Putting your doucments into the language you need is a moot point, there are a lot of official translators.
  9. The citizenship application – When you apply, write from your heart, you have to personally write a strong case of why you want to be a citizen.  It can not be for frivolous reasons, like it is cool.  Write how you have a historical connection that goes way back. Write what is true and honest. That you have an interest in the culture and the language and the people. If possible you would like to add to the society someday. Be sincere and into the country you are trying to get a citizenship for.
  10. The EU government – Be patient. It may take years but is worth the wait. Remember every coutry in this Union is an individual country and where you apply is important not the Union as a whole. Your passport will come from one of the member countries.

You can read more about the European Union citizenship on their home page.  Or better yet as a question to a real person, me. If you have any questions regarding citizenship or even questions like citizenship of babies born in a foreign country,  or marriage and citizenship questions, please ask.  I am not an expert but I can tell you based on my personal experiences.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

31 thoughts on “How I got an EU citizenship”

  1. Hello,
    After reading your blog, i was convinced as i think i should tell you some about my immigrantion issue.
    I came into the UK on a visitor visa (visa still valid till next year 2011).At the moment,i can’t just go back to my country as i have had enough (no job, unemployment keeps increasing).

    To cut the long story short, a lady has got pregnant for here in UK and the issue is that we are both on visitor visa. In what way do you think we can get any EU citizenship,so i can meet a job to take care of my family.

    In this case what do you suggest i can do?

    Await you reply soon into my mail box

    Thank you


    1. UK has right of blood than right of birth so your child will be a citizen of the parents country and the further, the baby’s citizenship does not affect the parents. I understand your situation and I am very sorry to hear about all your problems, but I can not think of a way to extend your visa.

  2. I stumbled upon your page while doing a search on to how an American can receive or obtain a passport for an EU country. I am a recent college graduate and my dream has always been to live and work in Europe, though due to the rules and regulations of the EU, it seems to have become very difficult for someone in my position to muscle his or her way into the EU for work. This is quite frustrating to me, as I have no desire to work or live in the USA, and yet was unable to choose where I was born.

    For awhile I thought that maybe I could claim citizenship in Ireland, England or Germany, since I can trace my ancestors back to these three countries. My father’s side of the family left Germany during the 18th century, whereas my grandmother’s father was from England, and her grandmother from Ireland. Unfortunately though, it seems that these ties are all too far removed to be of any use. So although I identify as European and can trace my whole family back across the Atlantic, it seems that it will be a struggle to obtain some sort of EU passport and citizenship.

    Do you have any suggestions, advice or other avenues, through which I can try to find a solution? Thanks for any help.

    1. I think only with Ireland is there a chance to get Citizenship in your case as this country is the least restrictive. However, you can get citizenship in another way.
      If you can not get citizenship directly then take a legal round about approach.
      Try to find a job there. My brother did this in the UK and 20 years later he still lives there and has a UK citizenship.
      But you do not have to be a cordial-scordial professional. Most of my friends connect with an English as a second language school and teach. Or they enroll in a University. In Eastern Europe is a cheap place to get a high quality Master’s degree.
      Others start a company or language school.
      The main idea is to get residence in a country legally. Once you live there for a few years, door open up. You make connections and you learn how to get citizenship legally. This might be by learning the language and being a good resident with a visa for about 5 to 7 years.
      Others fall in love and get married.
      But if there is a will there is a way. I would start with teaching at a school to get your foot in the door. You are a native speaker of English and should have no problem and can live a middle class life in most cases.

  3. Hi Mark!

    I am so glad I came across your blog. I am half German, my father being 1st generation born in America. — We previously believed my paternal grandmother to be Russian – it turns out she is from a German village settled on the Volga RIver in Russia – but a German born.

    I have always preferred to be able to live in Europe. One of my brothers lives in Italy, has an Italian wife, 4 children and two businesses. I would like to be able to be closer to them and move more freely within Europe to live and work.

    It seems there may be some chance of this since I am half German and 2nd generation?

    I have studied German, French and Italian language though I am not fluent in any of them.

    Any opinion or suggestions?

    Thank you!

    1. With your attitude I think there is a good chance. In my experience getting an EU citizenship is a lot about preparing the papers and being persistant to find something in the law that would help you. Techincally your parents would have had to be German citizens. But German citizenship law is complex and there are many conditions. Therefore I personally would contact the German embassy and see what way you could get this. If this does not work, a German immigration lawyer to get you a visa that would lead to citizenship eventually. I did not intially get citizenship, only a visa, but this lead to my citizenship.

  4. Hi Mark,
    I live in the United States, but have always wanted to go back to the land of my ancestors. we can trace our family all the way back to the 1300’s and 1400’s we come from France, Scotland, England, and Ireland. Our family moved to America in the 1700 and 1800’s is there anyway I can get a Dual citizenship with being able to trace them back that far?

    1. Technically I think it is too far back, but that would not stop me from trying. I got Polish citizenship and it was pretty far back. I would start with Irish citizenship. You can Citizenship you achieve via descent may be passed indefinitely though the generations. The Irish seem pretty friendly towards American looking for their roots. I would make a family tree and write the embassy and tell them you really love Ireland and feel Irish and want to learn Gallic etc. Every country has the possibility for citizenship based on exceptions.
      Let me know how you do.
      You have an interesting mix by the way, a lot of history. And yes Dual US EU citizenship rocks and it worth it even if it takes years to achieve.

  5. Hello Mark,
    I currently live in the U.S. (U.S. citizen) and have been wanting to teach abroad for a long time(probably when I finish college). Ultimately I would like to live in the U.K. My mom visits every year and we as a family hold dear our lineage. It’s five or six generations back, but my great grandmother was a reporter and built a very large ancestor portfolio. Obviously the U.K. has plenty of English speakers, so where would be a good start inside the E.U.? If teaching abroad, how long does it take to obtain dual citizenship?
    Sorry almost forgot. I would very much enjoy volunteer work or woofing, if you have any recommendations, it would be much appreciated.

    1. I think to get an EU citizenship for you would be achieved by working and living productively in a country you really love, or get married to a citizen in a real marriage.

      Your lineage is too far back I think for getting confirmed citizen. My brother has no UK blood but is a citizen as he lived there so long and worked of course. So I think you need to find a country that you love and live for a number of years by working legally. I know in Poland schools will sponsor you for a teaching work visa, but to make this go to citizenship it is a long process.

      If you could get a job in the UK that would be the best way. I guess my question is what country would you really like to live in?

      1. Preferably England or Scotland. I just found out today that my University offers year long study abroad programs all over the U.K. and say you can work 20 hours a week with the student Visa. I was thinking Networking would be a good place to start, but will living and working there for a year give me any advantages?

        1. Everyday you spend in a country helps your case. There are laws and there are cases. They do not only go by what is on paper – legislative law, but also by the whole picture. That being said, it will only help your case marginally. They want to see you working and living in the UK for x number of years and then they will review your case.

  6. I have no idea how old this post is, or if you check, but hopefully there is a chance you can offer your opinion.

    My situation: I am looking to move to the EU, I’ve always identified with my European side. I’m from America. Recently, I’ve been offered an internship in the UK and things would just be a heck of a lot easier, to make ends meet, with an EU passport. Working on importing myself to Germany maybe eventually. Since I have oodles of relatives there.

    Anyways. I’ve recently begun investigating if getting a German passport would be an option. My dad was born in Germany as a citizen. When he was a boy, his parents applied for US citizenship and opted to have his German citizenship removed. Thus he was only an American citizen when I was born. I’m wondering if, since he was a child and was not really voluntarily giving up German citizenship, there would be hope for us to get me German citizenship? Do you think I’d need to go through the effort to collect all of my grandparents and great grandparents documents (our family tree goes back to the 1500s or further). I have many relatives (cousins, aunts, etc) living in Germany. Though I may eventually end up there, I really am focusing on my UK job now.

    What are your thoughts? Thanks very much.

    1. I think you can get German citizenship under the right of return law. Read about German citizenship under Article 116 and I would build as much of a family tree and history as you have time for. The more effort you put into this the more chances you will get this.

  7. I would like to know if you could provide any advice on my situation. My father’s grandparents were born in Germany and came to the US in the early 1900’s. My maternal grandfather was born near Krakow and my grandmother was born in Budapest. Both maternal grandparents were ethnic poles, and my grandmother was jewish but somehow converted to Catholisim shortly after coming to the US as a young child. I very much would like to repatriate to either country, or at least get my foot into one EU country. I am a special education teacher here in the US, but I almost have my Masters completed. Any advice is appreciated.

  8. Both my grandparents and father are Russian though my father was born in New York and well my grandparents escaped the old USSR during the second world war. Is there any chance I could claim the Russian citizenship? Even if my grandfather is a veteran from the Soviet Union? I have very basic knowledge of their language as I wasn’t spoken much by my grandparents though I’m fluent in 4 other languages. English, Spanish, Hebrew and French. Your advice would be very much appreciated. I always wanted to know.

    1. I am Eastern European and got another passport, yet the laws in Russia are a bit more strict than in Poland because of the history. I do not think you can unfortunately, however, you could try. If you write a very passionate and committed case there is a chance as long as it is well documented. You will need some help from someone who specializes in this in Russia I think, not anyone expensive but most important someone trusted. Or like I, I did it myself.

  9. Hi there.

    I am second generation Polish (my dziadek came to Ellis Island in 1926) and I was wondering:

    When you received your dual citizenship (i.e. I had heard when Poland became part of the EU years ago, that there was a window of opportunity for first and second generation Poles to get dual citizenship but that is now closed).
    From all your research, did you see anything about second generation not being able too?

    Thanks so much for writing this blog -so informative- and I hope to hear from you regarding my questions.

    Thanks ever so much.


    1. There was no door or window concerning citizenship I am aware of, as people I know are still getting confirmed as Polish citizens and getting it through repatriotization. At the very least you can get a permanent residence card, but there has been no change in the constitution or law concerning citizenship.

  10. I am very ignorant about this topic so please excuse me if I sound ridiculous. My husband was born in Russia and adopted by U.S. citizens. He has U.S. citizenship. I have read that he can in sorts re-obtain his Russian citizenship. I also read somewhere (just on the internet, not necessarily a reliable source) that through his Russian citizenship he can gain EU citizenship and therefore can be a citizen of the U.K. Let me know if any of this is inaccurate according to your knowledge. We have dreamed of living in Great Britain and raising our family there because we respect their values on love and family. Also because the family that adopted him is cruel and will not let him go and live his life peacefully. They have made threats on our children and we just want a peaceful and safe life for our family. My family does not support me either and I do not want to bring our children into such confusion and sadness. This is just our dream. Is this a possibility for us?

    1. Following the principle of jus sanguinis in theory all this could be done. But as an adult even if Russia does get him a citizenship, and they do not care about his other citizenship, it would take three years of living in Russia to fulfill a residency requirement. I am not an expert on Russian citizenship law so I would call the embassy or write then an e-mail. Since Russians are Europeans they do have a favored status like Ukrainians in the EU. Further, I think the UK visa for a Russian would be easier to achieve then the Russian citizenship. So I would first research how difficult it would be to get Russian citizenship by calling their government directly as they have seen cases like this.

      The British has mixed family values. My brother raised his family there and they are normal but that is more from the parents rather than the society. Many British people have fallen from traditional values and are not very religious. Better might be to find a pocket in the USA which has values that are congruent with yours. For example, in the Bible Belt or whatever values you esteem. This would be an easier and more effective route to go I would think.

  11. I am fairly positive that in some EU countries it is possible to get citizenship based on your investment in that country. For instance, Slovenia.

    Now, I’m not an expert in the matter, but I know people who do this kind of consulting (and much more) as a legal business. Mostly, they help Russian and Ukrainian businessmen, but that is because the owner herself is a former Ukrainian national.

    So, if anybody is seriously interested in EU citizenship, you might want to check Slovenia.

  12. Hello Mark!

    I was wondering is there anyway that I am able to get Citizenship from Poland just because my grandmother was born in Poland. However, she has never lived there since she and her family were taken by the Soviets and the farm where she is from is now probably the Ukraine. My grandmother only has now is her Mexican and American citizenship. Is it possible for me to get citizenship or is it something only my mother can get? Or do I need to live in Poland for some years and possibly work? I am very curious to know because perhaps one day I can live and explore Poland while learning the language.
    Hope you have had a great weekend!


    1. Yes you would have to live there and get a green card first. Generally at the time citizenship was passed down via the male, based on the law at the time. So yes but you will have to go there or write the Polish embassy first and get a visa.

  13. I have read your blog and it is very interesting and informative. It is very kind of you to share your hard work and knowledge with others. I believe my situation may be similar to yours, in that, my great-grandparents were born in Poland, but at that time it was Ukraine/Russia. They only spoke Polish and so there is no doubt to their ancestry, but I have felt intimidated by whom exactly I should contact first. If I am unable at the time to go to Poland- do I contact the Polish embassy here? Ukrainian? Will either one be able to help me get information or documents regarding my great grandparents?

    1. Too far removed to get citizenship but you can get a greencard to the EU if you can prove Polish nationality of your ancestry. The country does not matter, it is more the bloodline.

  14. I’m a US citizen and am very curious about this. My great grandparents were from each of the countries listed in the title of my post. Would it be possible to get a citizenship in any of those countries? And would I have to live in one of those countries or could I move to another EU country? For example: I get an Italian citizenship and decide I want to move to the UK. Would that be possible? Or would I have to remain in Italy?

  15. Hello Mark

    I have a few questions regarding the process in which you managed to obtain and EU citizenship. All my grandparents where born in Poland and once WWII started my moms parents went to Syberia (my grandfather wrote a book about his experience) and my Fathers parents fought in the underground. After WWII my fathers family returned to Poland and my father was born there. At the age of 8 months he immigrated to Canada, he has a copy of his birth certificate but not the original. Locations of birth and family trees have been completed. I am considering the process of applying for my EU citizenship on the basis of working in Europe i.e.; Ireland as a nurse, with the hopes of attending a medical school there to further my career. Based on this where would be the first step in my application processes? As well do you believe they would grant an EU citizenship based on my motives?

    Cheers and thanks for help!

    1. Yes you could but you need to get a green card first as usually parents give you the citizenship but grandparents give you a visa.

  16. Hello Mark,

    Hope all is well, I really appreciate your willingness to help out those who are seeking a second citizenship through jus sanguinis (right of blood).

    My Father’s paternal Grandfather and Grandmother immigrated from Romania to Turkey in 1923. Following generations, including me, were born and raised in Turkey. My Father’s father, who was a Turkish citizen son of dual citizen parents, passed away last year.

    However, Artcile 10 and 11 of the Law on Romanian Citizenship stipulates that:
    “ARTICLE 10
    The Romanian citizenship may be also granted to the persons who have lost this
    citizenship, as well as to their descendants until the 2 degree inclusively and who ask to recover
    it, by keeping the foreign citizenship and establishing the domicile in the country or by keeping
    the on from abroad, if they duly accomplish the conditions laid down by Article 8 paragraph 1
    letters b), c), d) and e).
    ARTICLE 11
    The former Romanian citizens who have acquired the Romanian citizenship by birth or by
    adoption and who have lost it for reasons non-imputable to them or this citizenship has been
    raised by their will, as well as their descendants until the III degree may recover or they may be
    granted the Romanian citizenship, at request, by keeping the foreign citizenship and
    establishing the domicile in the country or keeping the one from abroad if they accomplish the
    conditions laid down by Article 8 paragraph 1 letters b), c) and e).
    b) proves, by behaviour, actions and attitude, loyalty towards the Romanian state, does
    not perform or support actions against the order by right or national security and declares he
    has never performed such actions;
    c) has reached the age of 18 years;
    d) has ensured in Romanian legal means for a decent living, in the conditions established
    by the legislation on the foreign people regime;
    e) is known with a good behaviour and was not convicted in”

    As this is a translation from the original language(Romanian) of the Law, I am a bit confused about my father’s right of blood to obtain Romanian citizenship. I have collected all documents re: my father’s paternal grandparents’ immigration and Romanian origin from the available Turkish Government records. What would you advise me at this point? I would really appreciate any and all information, direction for our pursuit.

    Best regards,
    Erman Kelp

    1. You have a good understanding of the legal statues around citizenship in Romania. The next step is to contact the Romanian consulate for an informational interview for repatriation. This is exactly what I would do and did for my Polish citizenship. Even if they can not confirm citizenship, you can apply for a temporary visa and then a permanent visa based on blood lineage. If you make your case convincing that you feel Romanian and love the culture and can tie everything with documents and paper, than you stand a good chance to be granted citizenship.

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