Czech citizenship claims increase in wake of legal overhaul
Last year saw a two-fold increase in applications for Czech citizenship according to newly released data from the interior ministry. In 2016, almost 4,000 applicants proved successful in this quest, which requires passing a language test, having a clean criminal record, and also proof of not being a social burden. Martin Rozumek is the head of the Organisation for Aid to Refugees. He explained that legislation in effect since 2014 was a major factor behind the increase:
So what do we know about the breakdown of the numbers in terms of what foreign nationals are applying for Czech citizenship?
“We see a sharp increase in the number of permanent residency permits issued to Ukrainians, Vietnamese, Mongolians… Nationalities with people that have been living here for many years – sometimes more than ten years. There is also a much larger number of people eligible to apply for citizenship from these countries, mainly Ukraine and Vietnam. And of course they want to become Czech citizens and have the status of a Czech or EU national or citizen, which is naturally much better than having the status of third country citizen or national.”
From what you are saying one can deduce that the increase is not related either to ongoing instability in the Middle East or North Africa, or concerns related to the effects of Brexit…
Do you view the overall Czech system now as a fair one?
“Not really, because the decision-making process is still too arbitrary. So if the interior ministry wants they can always reject a claim. Another problem is the length of the procedure. Sometimes it takes two years to get a first decision on a citizenship application, and that is a big problem. So I would say that it is too arbitrary and the power of the courts to intervene and grant citizenship – not only the interior ministry – should be considered.”