Croatian Diaspora Welcomes Citizenship Act Amendments

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

ZAGREB, December 27, 2018 – The government’s proposal to leave out generational and language restrictions for members of the Croatian expatriate community applying for Croatian citizenship has been described as a major positive change by the Croatian diaspora representatives, yet despite that and the interest of expatriates, Croatia, which in recent years has lost as many as 350,000 people, lacks a serious returnee policy and does not know how to use the potential of its expatriate community, estimated to have around three million members worldwide.

The bill of amendments to the Citizenship Act, adopted by the government in December, leaves out the generational restriction for acquiring Croatian citizenship for descendants of emigrants, which means that all descendants of Croatian emigrants will be able to apply for Croatian citizenship and not only lineal descendants, and they and their spouses will no longer have the obligation to know the Croatian language, the Latin script and Croatia’s culture and social order.

The government has thus lifted the restrictions it introduced in 2011, saying at the time that “the large number of citizenship applications are likely due to the fact that expatriates need Croatian citizenship exclusively for the sake of visa-free entry and work in more developed countries.”

The government’s Office for Croats Abroad has said that Croats in the diaspora will be very pleased with the latest amendments.

According to data from the Croatian Catholic Mission, available to the Office for Croats Abroad, around three million Croatian emigrants and their descendants live outside of Croatia. Most of them, around 1.2 million, live in the United States, around 350,000 live in Germany, 250,000 each in Argentina and Canada, and around 200,000 in Chile.

Over the past three years, the Office for Croats Abroad has granted 336 scholarships for Croatian language studies in Zagreb. More than two thirds of those who have been granted the scholarships are descendants of Croatian emigrants from Latin America.

Explaining the nature and rate of emigration from Croatia, demographer Stjepan Šterc has said that people have been emigrating from Croatia for economic and political reasons since the end of the 19th century. During the 1960s emigration tide, around 450,000 people emigrated to Western European countries, and during the 1990s Homeland War, Croatia lost around 480,000 people, he says. Over the past few years, another 350,000 people left the country, Šterc claims.

“One should not expect the long-awaited amendments to the Citizenship Act to bring expatriates back,” he believes. “That project should be much more serious than just simplifying the procedure for obtaining citizenship. There was never a strategy to stop emigration and increase returns,” he says, warning that Croatia also lacks a returnee policy concept.

Šterc believes that returnees should be given taxation and investment incentives and that Croatia should define a returnee policy on the model of Ireland or Israel.

As for whether it is realistic to expect expatriates to return to a country whose population is leaving, Šterc says that he would say that “Croatia is a transit country also for its expatriates.”

“The children of expatriates who obtain Croatian citizenship seek opportunities in other European countries because the Croatian passport enables them to do so,” he said, noting that despite its potential, the expatriate community had never been viewed as a strategic advantage.

More news on the Croats abroad can be found in our Diaspora section.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment