What is Citizenship by Descent?

Citizenship by Ancestry and Which Countries Offer It?

What is citizenship by descent?

Citizenship by Descent (CBA) is a legal process where an individual becomes a citizen of a particular country by virtue of their familial connections to that nation. This method typically involves proving a direct familial relationship, such as parentage or ancestry, to a citizen of the target country.

CBA offers a straightforward path to citizenship for individuals who can demonstrate their familial ties, often bypassing many of the stringent requirements and lengthy procedures associated with other naturalization processes. It’s an increasingly sought-after option for those seeking to establish legal ties to a foreign country, whether for personal, professional, or other reasons.

This approach to citizenship acquisition is gaining traction worldwide, offering individuals a relatively efficient and accessible route to obtaining citizenship rights and privileges in a foreign jurisdiction.

In this article, we will discuss which countries offer Citizenship by Descent programs and touch on the eligibility requirements, the overall advantages, and the process.

Citizenship by Descent CBA

Which countries offer Citizenship by Descent?

Currently, over 50 countries offer CBAs. Countries that offer CBA programs include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Africa – Cape Verde, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia
  2. America – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, United States of America
  3. Asia – Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand
  4. Europe – Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom
  5. Middle East – Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman
  6. Oceania – Australia, Fiji, New Zealand

What are the eligibility requirements for Citizenship by Descent?

The eligibility requirements for each country’s program vary significantly. In some countries, such as Italy, no generational barriers are imposed on applicants. Therefore, those with an ancestral link with Italy may qualify for Italian CBA regardless of how far back their ancestral lines extend.

Comparatively, people of French descent can only claim French citizenship from a French parent as each generation must register as French citizens before the citizenship can be passed down to the next generation.

Typically, applicants are required to provide documentation proving their ancestral link to the country of concern and submit birth and marriage registration records of each generation in the ancestral lineage. Some countries may require proof of proficiency in their official languages to support the issuance of a favourable decision on the CBA applications.

The process of obtaining CBA can be lengthy if the documentation required to prove ancestry is not complete, properly translated or legalized, so it is important to begin the process well in advance and consult with an immigration lawyer to determine eligibility and navigate the application process.

What are the advantages of claiming Citizenship by Descent?

The overall advantages of obtaining a second citizenship through CBA include the ability to live and work in the new country without the need for a visa or work permit. This can be particularly advantageous for individuals who wish to move to the country of their ancestors to connect with their heritage, start a business, or pursue educational opportunities. 

In addition, CBA can provide access to social services, including healthcare, education, and retirement benefits. Some countries, such as those in the Schengen Area, may also allow citizens to travel freely throughout the European Union, providing additional opportunities for work and travel.

It is important to note that a degree of uncertainty is involved in proving lineage because the immigration authorities may refuse your application if you cannot provide sufficient evidence to support your relationship with your ancestor or if they find that your ancestor had voluntarily renounced or lost his citizenship before you were born.

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