August the 8th, 2019 – I’m back with another article on acquiring Croatian citizenship. So far, we’ve covered naturalisation as a foreigner who isn’t married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian national, naturalisation for a foreigner who is married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian national, and Croatian citizenship by descent. We’ve also covered all the ways a person can obtain legal residence in Croatia. Now, let’s delve into a very grey area indeed…
Croatian citizenship through being of ”interest to the Republic of Croatia” is a way of acquiring citizenship that isn’t talked about very often, if at all. In fact, while it has to be made public as a lawful path to citizenship, it’s something the Ministry of the Interior like very much to keep to themselves. It’s reserved for extremely specific cases, and the outcomes of such requests are decided upon by the minister and the ministry over which they preside.
Usually, this method of acquiring the citizenship of any country is an extremely vague, grey area that nobody knows much about, and there’s a very good reason for that – in these cases, the discretion of the authorities is absolutely paramount.
People who go down this route can bypass many of the requirements expected of ”mere mortals” when acquiring Croatian citizenship, and in many cases this route is reserved for foreign athletes who represent a country in the sporting world, actors who would represent precisely this ”special interest” to a country if they became a citizen of that country, and so on. You get the picture.
Rest assured, there is so little actually made available by any channel about this method of acquiring Croatian citizenship, that this article is going to be much shorter than those I have written previously. Let’s see, however, what we do know about this strange little way of becoming a citizen.
What is made clear is that the process of acquiring Croatian citizenship through being of special interest to the Republic of Croatia is conducted in a very similar manner to the process of naturalisation.
Here are the requirements you need to be able to fulfil in order to acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation when not married to a Croatian citizen, and when not acquiring Croatian citizenship through being of special interest to the Republic of Croatia:
1.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen must not have had their working capacity taken away from them. What this actually means remains unclear and is likely left up to discretion, like many things.
2.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen technically needs to provide release from their other citizenship in order to gain Croatian citizenship. There are catches to this rule which don’t always make that the case, which I have explained in more detail, with a copy of that particular piece of law here.
3.) If you’re a foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen, you must have permanent residence and have lived in Croatia for a lawful, uninterrupted period of eight years at the time of submitting the application for citizenship.
4.) If you’re a foreigner naturalising as a Croatian citizen and you’re not already married to a Croatian citizen, then you need to prove your knowledge of the Croatian language, the Latin script, culture and the way society is arranged.
The appropriate piece of legislation that deals with this is Article 8, taken from the current Law on Croatian Citizenship, of which the above four bullet points are translations.
I haven’t translated the section of the law below the above-listed bullet points which explains how one can avoid needing to provide release from their foreign citizenship (which is explained in detail here), because it doesn’t apply to this method of gaining citizenship. You’ll also note that persons over the age of 60 are exempt from needing to take a test in language, culture, and societal arrangement.
If you are applying to naturalise and are considered to be of special interest to the Republic of Croatia, which is something decided on by the presiding minister and his ministry before you submit your paperwork, then you do not need to fulfil points 1 – 4 of this law. This means that:
1). You do not need to make sure your working capacity hasn’t been taken away from you
2). You do not need to request or provide release from your foreign citizenship
3.) You do not need to hold permanent residence at the time of submitting the application, nor do you need to have held uninterrupted, lawful residence in Croatia for a continuous period of 8 years
4.) You do not need to prove your knowledge of the Croatian language and the Latin script, nor do you need to prove your knowledge of Croatian culture and the way society is arranged
Your partner (if married or in a registered life partnership) can also acquire Croatian citizenship, without having to fulfil points 1 – 4, if you are able to acquire Croatian citizenship in this way. What you still do need to prove is that you respect the legal system and the customs of Croatia, and this will need to be able to be seen from your behaviour.
Below is the translation of the appropriate piece of legislation (Article 12) which attests to the above four bullet points, in italic font:
A foreigner whose admittance into Croatian citizenship would be of interest to the Republic of Croatia can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation even if they do not fulfil the requirements from article 8, paragraph 1, points 1-4 of this law.
The married partner of this person who has acquired Croatian citizenship from paragraph 1 of this article can also acquire Croatian citizenship, even if they do not fulfil the requirements from article 8, paragraph one, points 1-4 of this law.
As stated, being of interest to the Republic of a Croatia is a legal area about which there couldn’t be less information. This is because it is judged with such discretion and technically bypasses a lot of legislation put in place for ”normal” methods of acquiring citizenship, and the common process for regular naturalisation.
If you’re interested in more on Croatian citizenship and legal residency in Croatia, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page. I will continue to update these articles (which I have provided links to within this article) on residence and citizenship as and when law changes come in, so it might be worth bookmarking them for future reference.