There are many reasons why people want to become European citizens. Obtaining a passport from one of the EU countries is advantageous in terms of social, economic and personal security. Consequently, it is highly sought after.
Having an EU passport gives you the right to move freely across the borders of the Schengen Area and grants access to visa-free travel to various countries in the world. Moreover, you can take advantage of the financial opportunities, excellent national health care system and top education.
Unfortunately, EU passports are not the easiest to acquire as you must prove that you respect all EU laws and can integrate into society. As such, it might take years before you become an official citizen.
For those wondering how to get European citizenship, we will go over three main ways you can obtain an EU passport, including descent, naturalization and investment. Here is what you need to know.
Citizenship by descent
The easiest way to get a European passport is through your ancestry and descent. It usually requires only one of your parents to be a citizen of an EU country. However, those rules vary depending on the country.
Some countries allow citizenship by descent up to the third generation or earlier, meaning you can register for citizenship if your grandparents or great-grandparents were EU citizens. Those countries include Ireland, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Luxemburg.
The process is fairly straightforward and requires submitting the relevant documents to the nearest EU mission abroad. Once there, you must provide proof of your ancestor’s EU citizenship, including their previous passport, birth certificate, death certificate, refugee documents, etc.
Those with European ancestors are lucky because acquisition by descent is the cheapest way to get citizenship, costing up to €1,000. Of course, the costs you have to cover will depend on the regulations of a particular country.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a European grandparent. Because of that, you might choose to become a naturalized citizen. Most countries require applicants to have worked and lived in a country for a minimum of five years or more before applying for citizenship.
Remember that EU citizenship by naturalization is subject to certain conditions. For instance, you might need to be able to support yourself and your family financially, demonstrate good knowledge of the country’s language, show respect for the local culture and become a full-time resident.
Having said that, there are two ways you can become naturalized in the EU.
To obtain EU citizenship through marriage, you must be married to an EU citizen for at least three years. Still, it might be longer in some countries, such as Malta, where you can apply for citizenship after five years of marriage. Besides, in countries like Poland or the Czech Republic, you will have to apply for permanent residency first.
Another option is to move to an EU country with a work visa so you can live there. After working and paying taxes for 5-10 years (depending on the country) and fulfilling other criteria, you can apply for citizenship. Nevertheless, to obtain a work visa, you need a job offer from a local company that agreed to sponsor you.
Each country has its own work permits that international talent can apply for. Additionally, you could qualify for the EU Blue Card, which is available in 25 of the 27 EU member states, excluding Denmark and Ireland. To assess your eligibility, you will be given points according to your education, work experience and skills.
Citizenship by investment
If you are in a position to spend a lot of money, you could consider getting citizenship through investment. The scheme is known as a Golden Visa. It might be a good option for those who can afford it and wish to obtain a European passport quickly.
Eligibility for a Golden Visa or Golden Passport in Europe requires a considerable investment. In some cases, it might be as high as millions of dollars. Malta, Portugal and Spain offer the most popular schemes.
For example, in Malta, you can obtain citizenship if you make an investment of at least €600,000 (after residing 36 months in the country) or €750,000 (after 12 months). On top of that, you must buy a residential property worth at least €700,000 or lease a residence with a rental value of €16,000 annually. Finally, you need to donate €10,000 to any organization approved by the Community Malta Agency.
The process of obtaining an EU passport is complicated but not impossible. Sometimes, it will take years before you can become a legal citizen of an EU nation. But it is possible to speed it up if you are willing to invest in the country or marry an EU citizen. Or, if you are lucky enough, you can take advantage of your descent.
Still, it is vital to note that the citizenship laws can change rapidly. For this reason, it is best that you check with the relevant authorities in any country you wish to apply for citizenship. This way you will receive up-to-date information and learn more about the steps you need to take to become a citizen.