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Query:

  1. Are ethnic Croatians who were not born in, or do not reside in Croatia eligible for Croatian citizenship?
  2. Are the requirements for citizenship consistently applied?
  3. Is the citizenship for ethnic Croats who were not born in, or do not reside in Croatia limited in any way?

Response:

1) Are ethnic Croatians who were not born in, or do not reside in Croatia eligible for Croatian citizenship?

According to the Law on Croatian Citizenship, enacted on June 26, 1991 and amended on May 26, 1992, an individual may become a citizen by naturalization (Republic of Croatia, Law on Croatian Citizenship 26 June 1991, Art. 3). The requirements to obtain citizenship by naturalization include: a) that the individual be eighteen years of age and be capable of working; b) that citizenship in any other country has been revoked or will be revoked upon naturalization; c) residency in Croatia for five years; d) proficiency in the Croatian language and Latin script; and e) a respect for the legal order and customs of the Republic of Croatia and acceptance of Croatian culture (Republic of Croatia, Law on Croatian Citizenship, 26 June 1991, Art. 8). However, "a member of the Croatian people" who does not reside in Croatia can obtain citizenship by fulfilling solely the final point of Article 8, respect for the legal order and customs of Croatia and acceptance of the national culture (Republic of Croatia, Law on Croatian Citizenship, 26 June 1991, Art. 16).

A consular official of the Croatian Embassy in Washington, DC confirmed that an ethnic Croatian need not have been born in or have residency in Croatia in order to obtain citizenship. He explained that an individual born to ethnic Croatian parents would be considered an ethnic Croat. He also stated that proof of ethnicity is required for the citizenship application. Acceptable documents include, but are not limited to: a registry card indicating ethnicity issued by the republic of residence during the Yugoslav regime, a birth certificate indicating ethnicity, or the birth certificates or registry cards of the parents (Embassy of the Republic of Croatia).

The Embassy official stated that anyone applying for Croatian citizenship could file an application with a Croatian embassy or consulate abroad. He stated that it would be very difficult for a non-resident to file an application from within Croatia because of the amount of time of the process requires. He stated that the individualís visitor (or other) visa would have to remain valid until the time that the applicant receives his or her citizenship in order to successfully apply from within the country (Embassy of the Republic of Croatia).

2) Are the requirements for citizenship consistently applied?

During the course of the research on this query, no information was uncovered that would suggest that this aspect of the citizenship law is not applied fairly. In fact, the Croatian government actively offered citizenship to ethnic Croatian refugees and began registering those who had both citizenship and a registered residence (USCR 1999, 185).

3) Is the citizenship for ethnic Croats who were not born in, or do not reside in Croatia limited in any way?

The citizenship granted to ethnic Croats who were not born in, or do not reside in Croatia is in no way a limited form of citizenship (Embassy of the Republic of Croatia). All ethnic Croats with citizenship have the right to live and work in Croatia (DIRB Jan. 4, 1994). Furthermore, any person holding a Croatian passport is considered to be a Croatian citizen (DIRB, Dec. 30, 1993).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References:

Consular Officer, Embassy of the Republic of Croatia. Washington, DC. 23 February 2000. Telephone Interview.

Documentation, Information, and Research Branch (DIRB), Ottawa. 30 December 1993. Response to Information Request HRV15935. (UNHCR/REFWORLD Database)

Documentation, Information, and Research Branch (DIRB), Ottawa. 4 January 1994. Response to Information Request HRV15936. (UNHCR/REFWORLD Database)

Republic of Croatia. The Law on Croatian Citizenship. 26 June 1991. Translated by the Government of the Republic of Croatia. [Internet]  http://www.croatiaemb.org/consular/english/The_Law_on_Croatian_Citizenship.htm [Accessed on 23 February 2000]

US Committee for Refugees (USCR). 1999. World Refugee Survey 1999. Washington DC: USCR.

Attachments:

Republic of Croatia. The Law on Croatian Citizenship. 26 June 1991. Translated by the Government of the Republic of Croatia. [Internet] http://www.croatiaemb.org/consular/english/The_Law_on_Croatian_Citizenship.htm [Accessed on 23 February 2000]



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