The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.
18. 5. 04
Andrea Barsova


The beginning of the comparative study’s seventh chapter defines the term “state citizenship”. The comparison deals with the conditions for naturalization of foreigners, ways of making it simpler for second and third generation immigrants to obtain citizenship and dual citizenship. Czech legislation and practice are compared with the corresponding legislation of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. State successorship and the initial definition of a citizen are analyzed outside of the comparative method. Each of the chapters explains the relevant concepts and places them in the framework of international standards. The work ends with summary and partial recommendations regarding selected citizenship issues for the next legislative amendment.

In spite of the ambiguity of the term “state citizenship” and the development of rights and obligations related to it, state citizenship remains an important institution in the laws of modern states as well as one of the key instruments and expressions of immigrants’ integration into society.
Since its enactment, the Czech Republic’s State Citizenship Act has had to deal with problems stemming from the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Individuals who previously held Czechoslovak citizenship and have been living in the Czech Republic (both as permanent residents and permanent residents de facto) continuously since 1992 were granted citizenship by an amendment to the Act passed in 1999. However, citizenship should have been granted also to individuals who have lived on Czech territory only for most of the time due to their moving elsewhere temporarily after the breakup of the federation and who now often have difficulties with obtaining permanent residency status here.
Compared to neighboring countries, the conditions for granting Czech citizenship not always reflect today’s needs and at times do not even comply with the European Convention on Nationality, which the Czech Republic signed in 1999 but so far failed to ratify. Under the standard procedure, foreigners may apply for Czech citizenship only after 5 years of permanent residency, which in turn is attainable only after 10 years of residency (temporary). This means that a total of 15 years of residency is required, while the European Convention allows a maximum of 10 years and the average required time of residency in Western Europe is around 5 years. Without exception, only permanent residents may apply for citizenship, presuming that they manage to meet rather rigid economic and social criteria. Together with other post-communist countries, the Czech Republic lacks in particular a satisfactory procedure for simplified granting of citizenship to second and third generation immigrants (by introducing the criteria of place of birth – ius soli), which, apart from being the norm in Western Europe, is one of the requirements of the European Convention. Foreigners born on Czech territory are not even certain to be granted permanent residency status.
With regard to the issue of dual citizenship, the Czech Republic along with many other countries follows the principle of single citizenship and permits exceptions – if we exclude a certain group of former Czechoslovak citizens – only in regard to foreign subjects applying for Czech citizenship after at least 20 years of residency in the Czech Republic. Considering that the global trend is to permit dual citizenship (by means of exceptions at the very least), it would be beneficial to shorten the overlong period to 10 years and permit dual citizenship (Czech plus another EU member state).
18. 5. 04

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