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Most countries can offer citizenship to people with at least one parent that is currently a citizen.

What countries' (if any) nationality laws exist that will allow citizenship by blood for people whose parents might not currently have citizenship? e.g. Grandparents or later.

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    The one that comes to my mind is Israel – user41 Mar 13 '14 at 15:08
  • I think Italy does too. – gerrit Mar 13 '14 at 17:37
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    Don't know if this is within the scope of your question but some countries have special provisions for particular groups of people (e.g. Germany for ethnically German people who were deported in the Soviet Union after the war, Hungary for Hungarian minorities in neighboring countries, etc.). – Gala Mar 13 '14 at 18:15
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    @gerrit: AFAIK Italy does it recursively, i.e. grandchildren might apply to have their parent recognized as Italians, then in turn apply for themselves. – vartec Mar 13 '14 at 21:33
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    Small nitpick: Some (most?) countries can offer citizenship to anybody on earth if it's deemed to be in the national interest. The real question is who is entitled to citizenship under the law. – Gala Mar 18 '14 at 8:31

15 Answers 15

16

There are countries who allow this, for instance:

  • India: you need one Indian grandparent
  • Ireland: you need one Irish grandparent
  • Israel: that's the first example that came into mind. All Jews (also by conversion) have the right to become a citizen.
  • Ukraine: also one Ukrainian grandparent required

Those are the ones where having grandparents with the nationality is enough. There might be others that are not in the list. Also there might be others which give you citizenship based on ethnicity, but I'm not sure which ones those are.

  • Portugal also. In the process of this right now. – la femme cosmique Jul 19 '16 at 10:24
9

In Italy, you can get the citizenship by blood (jus sanguinis) as long as at least one of the following conditions are satisfied (you can check the article in Wikipedia):

  • The Italian male ancestor was born after 1861 (year of creation of the Kingdom of Italy). If he was born before 1861, he has to have acquired the Italian citizenship during his lifetime.

  • The Italian female ancestor was born after 1948 (Italian Republic Constitution).

So the rules for Italy are very lenient. However, in order to acquire the Italian citinzenship, one must provide several documents proving that he/she is related to an Italian ancestor, translate them into Italian by a certified translator and may have to wait several years in the queues of the Italian embassies/consulates around the world in order to be granted with the citizenship.

9

Off the top of my head Israel. Under the Law of Return if at least 1 of your grandparents was Jewish you can return to Israel and obtain citizenship.

Additionally Lithuania has a condition that if your parent or a grandparent held Lithuanian citizenship prior to June 15th, 1940 can have their citizenship restored up to the 3rd generation (basically your great-grandparent had to be a citizen)

Latvia has a similar law of restoration of citizenship but I can't find sufficient details on the subject to see if "descendants" includes grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

  • 4
    Just to correct yours and @drat answers - in Israel the Law of Return doesn't grant citizenship, it grants right to abode (permanent residency, if you may). The Law of Citizenship has a special clause that allows granting citizenship to the "olim", but doesn't require it (i.e.: the government doesn't actually have to give citizenship to "olim", and in some cases they don't). As to non-Jewish people - having a Jewish grandparent is not enough to become an "oleh", you actually have to come with that Jewish ancestor. – littleadv Mar 14 '14 at 7:42
  • Pretty sure we can also add Estonia to the list. I remember the grandparent needs to have been a citizen before 1940. – kiradotee Dec 31 '16 at 13:14
  • Could find info in russian and latvian, but not in English, but here is something: pmlp.gov.lv/en/home/services/repatriation – soshial Sep 13 '17 at 12:33
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USA Allows it, as I found out last year.

I was American born and lived there til around 11 years old. I now live in the UK and my son was born here.

We tried to get him US national status but the rules for that are that I have to have lived in the US for a certain qualifying period (I qualified) with a certain amount over the age of 14 (I didn't)

But we were told that if my parents met the residency requirements (they did) then my son would be eligible under a grandparent provision, but it must be applied for from within the USA, not at a foreign embassy.

More Info here

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child under age 18 who has a U.S. citizen grandparent who meets the physical presence requirements may qualify for expeditious naturalization under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Although not entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth, the child can, through this procedure, become a U.S. citizen by naturalization without first having to take up residence in the United States. It is, however, necessary for the child to travel to the United States for the naturalization, and all applications and documentation must be submitted and approved beforehand.

6

I've just finsihed the process of Italian, jus sanguinis and am now a dual citizen of Italy and the USA. It was a complicated process because you need the birth marriage and death certificates of each of your ancestors back to the Italian citizen. It took some work to get the ones from Italy, but we worked though a service so it wasn't my problem. We also skipped the embassy part by going to Italy to have our paperwork processed there. It wasn't cheap, and it took 2 almost 3 years. I'm waiting now to get my Italian passport.

  • What service did you use to track down the Italian documents? – Daniel Nov 17 '15 at 6:20
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    We used the services Peter Farina of ItalyMondo italymondo.com Peter was great and a real help. – Tony Giaccone Nov 18 '15 at 19:16
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Lithuania gives dual citizenship by descent (allows keep existing citizenship if): One of your parents, grandparents or grand- grandparents were Lithuanian citizens prior to 1940 and they withdrew or were exiled from Lithuania during 1940-1990 period. In case they were Lithuanians but emigrated earlier, you can get citizenship, but would be required to renounce the current one.

6

In Hungary since 2011 you can apply for citizenship using the simplified naturalisation scheme (english link) if:

  • you or any of your ancestors was a Hungarian citizen or if you serve reason to believe your origin is from Hungary,
  • you prove your knowledge of the Hungarian language,
  • you have no criminal record and you are not under prosecution,
  • your naturalisation does not violate the public and national security of Hungary

You have to prove that at least one of your ancestors (up to any number of generations) in fact had Hungarian nationality or lived there (for example by using birth certificates).

Applications for naturalisation may be filed with

  • any Hungarian registrar
  • any regional directorate of the Office of Immigration and Naturalisation
  • any consular officer at Hungary’s foreign diplomatic missions.

Note that you do not need to live or intend to move to Hungary to be eligilbe for this scheme, but in case the country you have your citizenship doesn't allow dual citizenships you might lose that citizenship if they figure this out (you can ask the Hungarian authorities to be discreet about your new Hungarian citizenship however).

6

As far as I know, Romania works on the same principle. However, this caused a lot of problems with The Republic of Moldova since Moldova was a part of Romania, and technically most Moldovans are Romanian by law. Ius Sangvinus is a complicated matter, but it applies in Romania, as long as one grandparent was Romanian. Needless to say, the population will only accept you as Romanian if you have blood ties.

4

Bulgaria allows it. You need some documents to prove your Bulgarin origin. The law doesn't say how exactly can you prove it, but if your grandparents were Bulgarian citizens, that should be enough.

Source : mfa.bg (Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

4

Portugal allows grandchildren to apply to become naturalized citizens under certain conditions (link in Portuguese):

  • they must have been born outside of Portugal
  • they must have a grandparent who did not lose their Portuguese citizenship

Interestingly enough, those with Portuguese citizen grandparents who are born in Portugal have stricter requirements: they have to meet one of a number of years-of-residency requirements.

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    for this, you also have to prove 'ties to the portuguese community' which is ill-defined and quite nebulous. most grandchildren of portuguese citizens actually do this by getting their parent the citizenship first, and then getting it for themselves. source: i'm currently doing this. – la femme cosmique Feb 21 '18 at 10:32
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I am promoting a string of comments to a proper answer but it's probably important to note that jus sanguinis does not work quite in the way you describe. Countries do not usually “offer” citizenship to children of current citizens. Rather, they typically grant citizenship, at birth, to the children of citizens.

So if one of your parent is, for example, a French citizen at the moment of your birth then you are automatically a French citizen yourself (with some caveats, see below). You might need some paperwork to actually benefit from it in practice (e.g. to get a passport, vote, etc.) but you don't need to become a citizen later on; you already are one, from day one.

On the other hand, if your parents get French citizenship through naturalization after you have reached adulthood, France does not offer you anything. You are not a citizen and your parents' French citizenship won't even make it easier for you to become a citizen.

For jus sanguinis, it's therefore citizenship at the time of your birth that matters. Consequently, the grand-children of a French citizen would simply be French citizens from their birth, as would the parent that transmitted them the citizenship, without having to do anything to request it.

In the case of France, the big caveat is that if you don't do anything to actively avail yourself of this citizenship (e.g. by applying for a passport, this is called “possession d'état” in French) and reside outside of France for more than fifty years then your children will lose their French citizenship (article 30-3 of the code civil).

It does mean that some distant ancestry will not make you a French citizen but the relevant criteria is not the number of generations and the law is structured in a completely different way (it's not “you can be French if one of your ancestors up to that generation was French” but rather “all your descendants are French unless some specific condition is met”).

In practice, it probably means that France might not meet your requirements but you need to be careful about these details if you want to understand nationality law. The details vary but many countries do have some form of jus sanguinis on the books.

3

Estonia does not have any limitations. All children of an Estonian citizen are Estonian citizens by birth. And the constitution is saying that "the citizenship obtained by birth can't be taken away". Which means it is not possible to be a descendant of an Estonian citizen and not be an Estonian citizen by birthright. It is a small country, they probably do not understand that such "constitutional" generosity can mean tens of millions Estonian citizens in hundred years while population of Estonia is only one million.

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This is largely answered in the Wikipedia article on Jus Sanguinis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_sanguinis

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    That's great, a longer answer would be editing and/or importing the wikipedia article. Or, perhaps, just linking there. Fast and correct is not as good an answer as the meandering half-answers above? Sad. That people can't click to read a link on another page, and realize that explanations and context are actually over there, is what makes StackExchange so boring. – jeffmcneill Nov 26 '15 at 13:21
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One important thing is that your parents need not have claimed their European citizenship or have even known that they were entitled to it. So, when somebody says, "One of your parents must be a citizen of country X," that doesn't mean that country X must presently know that your parent is entitled to citizenship. An application for citizenship can be used to prove that your parents and even grandparents were entitled to citizenship. What nobody has mentioned is that the first generation born outside of country X (e.g. in the US) must have been born before the immigrant ancestor naturalized (i.e. while they were still a citizen of country x). In the case of Germany, your ancestor must not have left Germany prior to 1904. The bulk of emigration from Germany took place before 1890, making most ethnic Germans in the Americas and Australia ineligible to claim German citizenship.

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    The requirement for the child to have been born before the parent naturalized depends on the laws of the country in question and possibly on the circumstances of the naturalization. It's really difficult to make blanket statements on this question that will be true for all countries. – phoog Jun 18 '16 at 20:47
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In the Philippines, there are two modes of acquiring Filipino citizenship: by birth and by naturalization. Article IV on Citizenship of the 1987 Constitution reads: Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: 1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution; 2. Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines; 3. Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and 4. Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

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    Are you saying, then, that the Philippines does not offer descendant citizenship by blood further back than 1 generation? In that case, this doesn't seem like an answer to this question. – Dan Getz Dec 5 '15 at 14:16

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