Citizenship Act (Slovakia)
|Enacted by||National Council|
|Date enacted||19 January 1993|
The Citizenship Act is a law enacted by the National Council of Slovakia in regard to the nationality law following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. In 2010, it was controversially amended to disallow former citizens from voting, which was said to have affected the 2012 election to some degree.
Enactment of the Citizenship Act
Prior to 1993, the Slovak Republic was a part of the now defunct state of Czechoslovakia. At the time, Slovak citizenship was an internal distinction within Czechoslovakia.
On 19 January 1993, after the Slovak Republic had become a separate state, the National Council of the Slovak Republic enacted a nationality law to establish "the conditions of gain and loss of citizenship" in the newly formed republic. The law came into effect the day after its publication on 16 February. Citizenship applications would be issued by the Ministry of Interior after application with a district office. A citizen of Czechoslovakia as of 31 December 1992, who was not already a citizen of the Slovak Republic, had one year to apply for Slovak citizenship. Citizenship was also open to those who had lost Czechoslovak citizenship as a result of territorial dissolution after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Under the 1993 law, a citizen could lose Slovak citizenship only at his or her own request, after having acquired citizenship in another country. However, release of citizenship would not be allowed for people who owed taxes or who are under criminal sentence in Slovakia.
Neighbouring Hungary passed a resolution on 26 May 2010, amending its own nationality law to allow any ethnic Hungarian living abroad (who was able to speak the Hungarian language, and was a Hungarian citizen before 1920 or a descendant of a pre-1920 Hungarian citizen) to seek Hungarian citizenship. The new Hungarian law, which was enacted by a majority of 344 votes in favour with three opposed and five abstentions, elicited a reaction in the surrounding region. The strongest reaction was from Slovakia. Prime Minister Robert Fico said Hungary's action was a "security threat," because Slovakia hosts a 500,000-strong Hungarian minority community within its borders that could possibly become citizens of Hungary. That same day, Slovakia passed a motion to amend the Citizenship Act to limit dual citizenship by barring Slovak citizenship for anyone applying to another country for citizenship. The amendment did not, however, bar dual citizenship for those who acquired it at birth or by marriage.
The verbal spat continued the following year when Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics complained to the European Union's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding that the law allegedly violated the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights in that he believed it was against the free choice of identity and that Slovakia should be punished if it was found to be in violation of the charter:
I believe the European Union must go further than saying this is a Hungarian-Slovak conflict ... because it violates the charter of fundamental rights. If a democracy robs its own citizens of their citizenship by applying sanctions against people who practice their right to a free choice of identity, I believe it becomes a problem of democracy.
Under the Citizenship Act, Slovak citizenship can be acquired by birth, adoption or grant.
A child is a citizen upon birth if one or both parents is a Slovak citizen. Additionally a child born within the nation's territory to noncitizen parents may acquire citizenship if the parents are stateless, if the parents are unknown and there is no proof of foreign citizenship, or if the child does not choose to adopt the parents' nationality. When one parent is a citizen and the other is not, the child is considered a Slovak citizen even if the citizen parent is later determined not to be the child's actual parent.
Citizenship is given to a child upon adoption if at least one parent is a citizen.
There are several eligibility requirements for a person to be granted citizenship. For example:
- Citizenship may be granted to a person who has had a permanent residence in the country continuously for at least eight years prior to application and has satisfied the nation's obligations upon foreign residents; does not have a criminal record, pending extradition hearings, or European arrest warrants; has not had deportation hearings or hearings for removal of asylum; and can demonstrate knowledge of the Slovak language and a general knowledge of the country.
- Former citizens who have maintained permanent residence for at least two years prior to application can be granted Slovak citizenship again.
- Grants of citizenship are available to persons who are married to Slovak citizens (as regulated by the Act on Family, the Act on Registry Offices, the Act on International Private and Procedural Law and the Act on Residence of Foreign Nationals) and have in Slovakia in the same household as their spouse for five years prior to application.
- Citizenship may be granted to persons who have "significantly contributed to the benefit for the Slovak Republic on economic, scientific, technical, cultural, social or sport sphere."
- Adults who resided in Slovakia on a continuous permanent basis for at least three years before the age of 18 can be granted citizenship.
Grants of citizenship can be revoked if:
- The applicant's documents are later found to have been forged or altered.
- Applicant is determined to be a different individual from information in the application.
- The applicant withheld required information that could have changed the determination on grant of citizenship.
- There was criminal action in connection with the issuance of the grant of citizenship.
In such cases, the Ministry of Interior would notify the applicants municipality, police, tax office, customs and social insurance and public health insurance institutions. Within 30 days from the date of notice the citizenship would lapse and certificates returned.
Applications are handled by the District Office of the Upper-Tier Territorial Unit or a Slovak diplomatic mission or consular office. The application are scrutinised and sanctioned by the Ministry of Interior. If after approval the citizenship is not taken up within six months of the date of notification the application would be suspended. Rejected applicants must wait at least two years to re-apply.
The oath of citizenship is administered by the head of the District Office, a Slovak ambassador or Consul, or their authorised persons. It reads:
Sľubujem na svoju česť a svedomie, že budem verný Slovenskej republike, budem dodržiavať Ústavu Slovenskej republiky, ústavné zákony, zákony a iné všeobecne záväzné právne predpisy a riadne plniť všetky povinnosti štátneho občana Slovenskej republiky
Citizenship of the European Union
Travel freedom of Slovak citizens
Visa requirements for Slovak citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Slovakia. In 2015, Slovak citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 162 countries and territories, ranking the Slovak passport 10th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.
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