Assuming the authorities will grant my wife a permanent residence permit some time this millennium, she’ll be able to apply for Polish citizenship through marriage to a Polish citizen after residing ‘uninterruptedly’ in Poland for two years.
Background – Permanent residency in Poland on the basis of marriage to a Polish citizen
In this post, I will go into the ins and outs of acquiring Polish citizenship on the basis of marriage to a Polish citizen. However, let’s first of all remind ourselves of the circumstances surrounding the process of acquiring a permanent residence permit based on marriage to a Polish citizen.
On December 1, 2022, my wife had resided in Poland for exactly two years on the basis of a temporary residence permit. Therefore, my wife visited the Pomeranian Voivodeship Office in Gdańsk at the beginning of December to submit her application for a permanent residence permit.
After a few months had passed, my wife was summoned to the Office for Foreigners to provide fingerprints. The fingerprint scanner didn’t work properly. I’m beginning to wonder whether my wife actually gave her fingerprints. Perhaps a story for another day.
Anyway, the status of my wife’s application on the Pomeranian Voivodeship Office online Customer Portal was eventually updated to “Opiniowanie wniosku”. In other words, the case is being verified by the services responsible for state security and public order. The deadline for this phase is 31 July, 2023. It seems that there are quite a few more phases between the verification stage and actually receiving a positive decision. Hopefully, the authorities won’t find anything wrong with the documents we submitted.
Can a spouse apply for Polish citizenship on the basis of marriage regardless of whether he/she is residing in Poland?
There are various ways in which a foreign national can obtain Polish citizenship. Certainly, there are quicker ways to acquire Polish citizenship than through marriage. For instance, you don’t have to be living in Poland to get Polish citizenship by descent.
If you think you can automatically acquire Polish citizenship after marrying a Polish citizen, you are wrong.
A foreign national needs to have been living in Poland for at least two years on the basis of a permanent residence permit or a long-term EU resident’s residence permit in order to be eligible to apply for Polish citizenship through marriage.
It’s vital to have in mind that one’s stay in Poland during this two-year period must be uninterrupted. According to Polish law, none of the breaks can be longer than six months. In other words, you cannot be outside of the country for a continuous period of six months. Furthermore, all breaks should not exceed 10 months in total over a two-year period.
Are there any exceptions to the regulations surrounding an uninterrupted stay?
There are several exceptions to the aforementioned rules regarding a foreign national’s uninterrupted stay in Poland:
- If the foreign national is employed in a company based in Poland and they need to go on a business trip;
- If the foreigner is studying in Poland, but, for whatever reason, you have to attend lectures or classes at another university outside of Poland;
- If the foreign national is hospitalised or subject to other important circumstances.
All in all, if you properly document the circumstances of these exceptionals periods spent outside of Poland, your stay may be considered interrupted, even if you exceed the 10-month limit.
What other conditions need to be met to apply for Polish citizenship on the basis of marriage to a Polish citizen?
In addition to residing in Poland for a minimum of two years on the basis of a permanent residence permit, there are two other important conditions you need to fulfil in order to acquire Polish citizenship through marriage:
- You have been married to a Polish citizen for at least three years;
- It’s essential to pass a state certificate exam in Polish as a foreign language at the B1 level of competence. Official confirmation of passing the exam is required.
This page lists the documents you need to submit when applying for recognition as a Polish citizen.
How many years must pass before a foreign national can apply for Polish citizenship through marriage?
On paper, a foreign national needs to have been living in Poland for four years before applying for Polish citizenship on the basis of marriage to a Polish citizen.
However, as my wife can attest to, the reality is very much different.
My wife applied for temporary residence in March 2020. Bizarrely, in my opinion, the authorities don’t start counting the start of the temporary residence period from the date of submission of the application. So, my wife got her temporary residence permit in December 2020. Essentially, she ‘lost’ nine months.
The next stage is to reside in Poland for two years on the basis of a temporary residence permit, and then apply for permanent residency. So, my wife applied for permanent residency at the beginning of 2022. It’s now April 2023 and the authorities don’t seem to be getting any closer to processing my wife’s application. So far, five months have ‘gone missing’.
There’s no even playing field when it comes to obtaining these residence permits and, in the long run, Polish citizenship. A foreigner living in Kraków, for example, might have to wait two years to get their permit. Conversely, a foreigner living in a small town might only have to wait six months.
All in all, there’s a good chance you will have to reside in Poland for between five to six years before you can apply for Polish citizenship through marriage.
Lack of clarity
When it comes to my wife acquiring Polish citizenship, one young lady at the Office for Foreigners in Gdańsk planted a seed of doubt in my wife’s mind some time ago. The official said that my wife would never be able to apply for Polish citizenship through marriage because we got married four years before Polish authorities confirmed my status as a Polish citizen.
Anyway, I checked out the official’s claim with Mr Andrzej Falkowski, Chief Specialist at the Citizenship and Repatriation Department, part of The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration. Mr Falkowski was very responsive to my emails containing one other question I had related to my wife’s potential future application for Polish citizenship. However, I still can’t seem to get a definite yes or no as to whether this official in Gdańsk was right or not regarding whether the date of marriage affects the applicant’s right to acquire citizenship if one’s status as a Polish citizen is confirmed after the wedding.
As far as I can make out, Polish nationality law does not explicitly state that a foreign national’s spouse has to be a Polish citizen at the time of marriage. The law just states that a foreigner must have been married to a Polish citizen for at least three years. My Polish citizenship was confirmed in 2018 and my wife and I have been married since 2014. Hence, according to my estimation of the law, my wife’s been married to a Polish citizen for at least three years.
It’s the date of birth that matters
Maybe my wife and I worry too much because there’s another important twist to come. According to Anna Kastory, Polish Citizenship Specialist at Lexmotion Law Firm of Attorney in Kraków:
“ … what you need to know is that your Polish citizenship is confirmed “as of the date of your birth.” The Polish citizenship certificate issued in 2018 only confirmed your status as the Polish citizenship holder. It didn’t “create” a new status.
So, in reality, I’ve been a Polish citizen since the day I was born.
I’ll update this section if I get any more information from the authorities or any of the citizenship specialists I’ve been communicating with.
Finally, I should not tear into the aforementioned official who works in the Office for Foreigners in Gdańsk. I didn’t explicitly state that I gained Polish citizenship by descent. However, I would have thought it was perfectly obvious to her what my wife and I were trying to get at.
First of all, I must stress that a foreigner does not acquire Polish citizenship after marrying a Polish citizen. Getting married to a person who has Polish citizenship never automatically grants it to the spouse of that person.
This post should have proved that a foreign official applying for Polish citizenship through marriage should have the patience of a saint when it comes to the application processing times for both a temporary and permanent residence permit.
Still, I’m sure that the bureaucracy is a lot worse in many other European countries. Moreover, shudder at the thought of having to live in Poland for a number of years in order to acquire Polish citizenship through marriage, there aren’t many safer and more beautiful European countries to live in than Poland.