The Croatian language exam will no longer be part of the diaspora requirements for citizenship – good news for the Croatian diaspora.
The Interior Ministry has launched a public consultation procedure for amendments to the Law on Croatian Citizenship, which includes a much simpler, easier and faster acquisition of Croatian citizenship for Croatian emigrants, reports Večernji List on October 26, 2018.
The amendments would abolish the generational limitation for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship for descendants of emigrants, which means that citizenship will be available to people regardless of when their ancestors left Croatia. A further measure is that people whose direct ancestors were Croatian citizens will no longer have to prove they speak Croatian language and know Croatian culture and government system, which are presently some of the requirements to acquire citizenship.
The members of the third and fourth generations of Croatian emigrants, who want to return to Croatia, have complained that the main obstacle to obtaining citizenship was the fact that they did not speak Croatian language.
Interestingly, the proposed amendments to the law clarify the concept of emigrants from Croatia by prescribing that an emigrant is a person who left the Republic of Croatia before 8 October 1991.
The amendments to the law would also increase the age limit to 21 for the registration of Croatian citizenship by persons born abroad and whose at least one parent is a Croatian citizen so that these people would be able to submit an application for entry into the national register if their parents failed to do so.
Foreigners with registered residence in Croatia will now be able to acquire Croatian citizenship if they started and graduated from an undergraduate and graduate study course in the Croatian language at one of higher education institutions in Croatia, provided they keep on living in Croatia for 18 months after graduation.
In the period from 1992 to 2017, there were 1,088,662 persons admitted to Croatian citizenship, of which 679,482 were people of the Croatian nationality, while 20,489 persons were emigrants and their descendants and spouses.
It is estimated that there are almost three million Croats and their descendants living abroad today, which is just one million fewer than the population of Croatia. Most Croats abroad live in the USA, Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Chile.
The Interior Ministry stated that a working group which drafted the amendments to the Law on Croatian Citizenship was established after the initiative of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
In recent years, Croatia has faced a wave of emigration of whole families to countries such s Germany and Ireland, seeking a better life, better jobs and better salaries.
The public consultation about the draft law will end on 3 November, and the first comments received say that the law would increase the number of voters from the diaspora. However, this would not affect parliamentary elections, since the number of diaspora MPs in limited to three, regardless of the number of people voting.
Translated from Večernji List (reported by Iva Puljić-Šego).
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