With the proposed amendments to the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, which are currently in the parliamentary procedure, the acquisition of Serbian citizenship by admission will be much easier. Such a liberal approach to granting of Serbian citizenship could be met with various criticism, so it is possible that during the parliamentary discussion the proposal may be amended or withdrawn.
The most significant novelty is the possibility to acquire Serbian citizenship after only one year of temporary residency in Serbia in the case of foreigners who are employed, self-employed, have university education (in Serbia or abroad), or who have graduated from high school in Serbia. Given that foreigners can establish an entrepreneur agency in Serbia without any restrictions or specific qualifications, and that the procedure for establishing such an agency is very simple and relatively cheap, it follows that every foreigner through the establishment of his/her own entreprenenour agency and after one year of temporary stay in Serbia could be eligible for Serbian citizenship. Spouses of foreigners who have acquired citizenship through this simplified procedure will also be able to become Serbian citizens only by submitting a statement that they consider Serbia as their country, while their children will acquire Serbian citizenship without special conditions.
The acquisition of Serbian citizenship through admission in the regular procedure is also liberalized compared to the current solution, so foreigners with approved permanent residency (which, in accordance with the amendments to the Law on Foreigners, can be granted after three years instead of five years of temporary residency – which we wrote about in one of our blogs that you can find in the following link) will be able to immediately apply for Serbian citizenship without having additional three years of residence in Serbia (which is the current requirement).
In case of the aforementioned regular or simplified procedure for acquiring citizenship by admission, the condition is no longer that the foreigner obtains a release from foreign citizenship.
Other amendments to the law also prescribe easier conditions for acquiring Serbian citizenship based on the origin of minors born abroad, so a parent who is not a Serbian citizen will be able to submit a request for acquiring citizenship for her/his children. In addition, it is provided that persons over the age of 23 who have previously resided in Serbia for at least three years can acquire Serbian citizenship on the basis of origin. For a foreigner who is married to a Serbian citizen, it will no longer be necessary to have a permanent residency in Serbia in order to acquire Serbian citizenship. Instead, it is necessary to be married to a Serbian citizen for at least ten years and to submit a statement that they consider Serbia as their country.
The reasons for proposing such extremely liberalized conditions for acquiring citizenship by admission are explained as an attempt to improve demographic trends in Serbia, which have been in decline for decades, to attract young qualified workforce from abroad as well as to facilitate connections with the native country for people who originate from Serbia. However, as stated at the beginning, the question is whether these amendments to the law will be adopted or they will undergo significant changes due to the fact that radical liberalization of the conditions for acquiring citizenship may come into collision with the European integration of Serbia and the non-visa status that Serbia has with the European Union. Namely, the easier acquisition of Serbian citizenship would also entail that third-country nationals, after acquiring Serbian citizenship, will be able to travel within the European Union without obtaining visas, as well as to become citizens of the European Union if Serbia eventually completes the process of accession to the European Union.
This text is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We are at your disposal for any additional information.