top of page
  • Dr I. L. Vlad

Romanian citizenship by descent: End of an Era

Romanian legislators have significantly changed the rules regarding Romanian citizenship by descent, so as to make it practically impossible or unattractive for most applicants. Below you will find the new rules in full.



Summary:


  • Most applicants will need to speak Romanian to a B1 level (conversational) and prove this with a language certificate. This rule is retroactive, it applies as far back as applicants from 2018!

  • Citizenship becomes essentially bureaucratically impractical for most persons.

  • We will continue processing citizenship requests only for the categories below.


Who still has a good chance towards citizenship:


If you fall within one of the categories below, you still have a good chance at citizenship, including being considered already a Romanian citizen. Bear in mind that in many cases you would still need to learn Romanian, but it is worth investigating whether you do. We will prioritize considering applications for these cases!


You have a very good chance, and a relatively easier path to citizenship if:

  1. You were born in Romania. OR

  2. Your Romanian-born ancestor is still alive and willing to help. OR

  3. Your Romanian-born parent is not alive, but they left Romania after 1948.


If you meet any of these criteria, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to process your application!


The new rules in full and how they impact you:


It is important to know that these rules are partly retroactive. So read on even if you have already submitted your application to the authorities, as you may need to go back on it.


1. Entry into force:


These rules will apply as of 1 May. However, the rules with underlined titles apply retroactively, to existing applications as well.



2. Romanian language knowledge:


Every applicant for citizenship that is over 18 will need to present proof of Romanian language knowledge,  both theoretically, in the form of a B1 European language certificate, as well as practically, by making the application and taking the Oath, in Romanian. The certificate will have to be issued by a short list of providers, to be approved around June.


Exceptions:

A. Persons who went to school / highschool / university inside Romania;

B. Persons who were Romanian citizens (i.e. The original emigrants).


Application of this rule by request-stage:

A. Application not submitted yet: you need to learn Romanian, take the certificate, then collect your documents, then apply;

B. Application submitted and registered, not yet solved: you will soon be contacted by the Citizenship Authority, when they publish the providers list, and will have exactly one year to learn Romanian and pass the B1 certificate test;


C. Application approved, Oath not yet taken: you don’t need a certificate, but need to speak fluently with the Consul at the Oath-taking. Consuls have a new power to independently find that someone does not speak Romanian in practice. This will close that person’s path to citizenship definitively;


D. Oath already taken: no impact.


4. Document freshness:


All documents presented by every applicant need to be at most 2 years old. This will create problems, because essentially everyone will need to re-issue every certificate, and won’t be able to use the ones they have at home. Further, it will be a problem with non-duplicable ones,  such as US Naturalization Certificates.


For archival documents, the date refers to the stamp of the office issuing the authentic extract.


This rule is non-retroactive. Existing registered files will have their documents processed regardless of when they were issued.


5. Place of depositing the application and making the Oath:


Applications will be possible only at the consulate where the person has a domicile or residence, not in Bucharest! Same for Oath-taking.


Exceptions:

A. People who live in Romania (with visa, refugees, students etc.);

B. People who wish to move to Romania.

These persons will, correspondingly, not have the consulate path open anymore. They also need to show proof of income and housing in Romania.


This rule is not retroactive. Registered applicants still have the choice of where to submit the Oath (by definition, they already made the application).


6. Document verification with country of origin:


The Citizenship Authority will now check,  in case of doubt, foreign documents with their issuing authorities. Not only a negative reply, but also the absence of a reply, leads to rejection!


This will create problems for people in some less open countries or in countries that reject double citizenship (major issue for Ukrainian men).


This rule is retroactive: all existing applications, particularly the postponed ones, will be put through this test. Possible exception being considered: refugees living in Romania.


7. Audience of applicant and witnesses:


At the exclusive discretion of the Authority, they can summon the applicant, or any witness they choose, for a physical audience in Bucharest. The audience is in the Romanian language. It allows for legal assistance though not representation. I am available for such work.


This rule is retroactive: all existing applications may be subject to it, although it has been made clear this will be exceptional (essentially, where there is a suspicion of identity fraud).


8. Citizenship card:


Each person who is approved and takes the Oath will get a citizenship card on the spot. This will have their biometric data and will serve to confirm, later on, that the person who took the Oath is the same one as who applies for a passport. There will be a (small) tax for this card.


This rule is not retroactive. Whoever took the Oath already will use the paper with photo they got on the spot. 


9.  Communication rules:


If, after being summoned online (by email), registered post, and by publication on the website, an applicant does not reply for whatever reason or purpose (such as invitation to Oath, completing the file, audience etc.), their case will be rejected.


This applies to existing applications as well, and it has been made clear that this rule will be used immediately to trim the backlog forcefully. Expect every applicant to get some message, and have to be on the lookout, lest they get rejected.


10. Deadline for requesting IDs and Passports:


People who live in Romania will have to request their IDs within one year of taking the Oath. This means registering their foreign vital records registrations immediately thereafter.


People wo live abroad will have to request their first Romanian passport within 3 years. This also means doing their civil status registrations immediately, because they take longer from abroad, and are strictly personal.


This rule applies to existing applicants to become citizens, as well as to everyone who took the Oath, became a citizen, but does not have a passport yet (!). The 3 years start in May. Penalty: financial, 100-200 EUR. This does not lead to loss of citizenship.


11. No Right to Citizenship:


It is clarified in the law, that meeting all of the above obligations does not give a right to citizenship, only a potential, and the grant remains exclusively at the discretion of the state.


Sundry changes:


1. Citizenship by investment is abolished.


2. There is a new citizenship procedure for “major contributions to Romanian language, culture and country promotion”. Persons who have a recommendation letter from a Romanian Ambassador or Consul General must still meet all of the above criteria (including language and procedure) but do not have to be of Romanian descent, nor live in Romania, nor wait any number of years. It’s essentially for donors, Romanian-culture professors, and ethnic leaders abroad.


3. It becomes impossible to represent a person, even one who is extremely ill, impossible to move or otherwise impeded from appearing. Exception: persons who are under legal guardianship, after this has been judicially recognized in Romania (that’s 3 years just for this step, so essentially it applies only for persons who live in Romania and don’t care how long this takes).


Conclusion:


An era is ending for Romanian citizenship by descent. Without formally changing who is entitled to apply, the new rules make it both impractical, and unappealing to apply anymore, unless your links to Romania, including its language, are fresh and active. We will continue processing applications only for such persons and encourage you to apply now.


This also affects past applications, who are still being considered, as far back as 2018. So having submitted your application in the past 6 years does NOT exempt you from most of the new rules. Expect to be contacted by the National Citizenship Authority.


483 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page