Territorial origin as a legal ground for acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship

Territorial origin is perhaps the most common legal ground for acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship. In the first half of 2019 alone (according to the statistical indicators of the State Migration Service of Ukraine), about 1600 persons acquired Ukrainian citizenship on this legal ground.

There are two main criteria for acquiring citizenship by territorial origin. The first criterion is the birth or permanent residence before the declaration of independence of Ukraine (before August 24, 1991), on the territory that became the territory of Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR, according to the Law of Ukraine on Succession of Ukraine; and the second criterion is the birth or permanent residence on the territories that have historically belonged to the Ukrainian lands (in particular the USSR, ZUNR, UNR, etc.).

It is possible to acquire Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin not only when a person who has expressed a desire to become a Ukrainian citizen personally was born or resided in the abovementioned territories, but also if there were born:

  • one of his/her parents;
  • grandfather or grandmother;
  • both full- and half brother or sister;
  • son or daughter;
  • grandson or granddaughter.

Compared to other ways of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship, acquisition of citizenship by territorial origin is carried out by a simplified procedure, as it is necessary to collect a relatively small amount of documents. Equally important, is that the application review deadlines are much shorter (about 3 months).

Therefore, in order to acquire Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin, the following documents shall be submitted:

  • an application;
  • 2 photos 3,5×4,5 cm in size (on matte paper);
  • a document confirming the fact of birth or permanent residence on the territory of Ukraine (for example, birth certificate, copy of the employment record, court decision);
  • an obligation to renounce foreign citizenship for foreigners (or a declaration on the absence of foreign citizenship for stateless persons; a statement on the change of foreign citizenship if there is an international agreement between Ukraine and a foreign state on the automatic termination of citizenship).

An extremely important nuance in the process of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship is that foreigners who have pledged to renounce their foreign citizenship shall submit to the migration service a document issued by the authorized body of the respective state, about the termination of foreign citizenship. This procedure shall be done within 2 years from the date of registration a person as the citizen of Ukraine.

If the foreigner cannot obtain such a document (for example, the absence of a renouncement procedure in the legislation of foreigner’s country of origin), he\she shall file a declaration of waiver of foreign citizenship.

Also, the person who has acquired the Ukrainian citizenship undertakes to return his / her foreign passport to the authorized bodies of the issuing State. If, however, the foreigner does not comply with these requirements, the decision on registration of the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship is automatically canceled.

The list of documents mentioned above is basic and, depending on the specific situation, may be supplemented by other documents. For example, if the legal ground for acquiring citizenship is the birth of the applicant’s grandmother in Ukraine, documents that confirm the affinity of the applicant and his grandmother shall be provided additionally, in particular:

  • birth certificate of a grandmother;
  • marriage certificate (if the grandmother’s surname changed after the marriage);
  • birth certificate of one of the applicant’s parents;
  • marriage certificate of the applicant’s parents (if necessary, for example, the applicant’s mother’s surname changed after the marriage);
  • birth certificate of the applicant.

That is, in essence, the applicant will have to collect a kind of “family tree” to confirm his\her family relationship with the grandmother.

However, very often the procedure for acquiring citizenship becomes more complicated due to the lack of documents confirming the fact of birth or permanent residence in Ukraine. In such cases, you should apply to the archives and the civil registry offices.

If, however, the application to the aforementioned authorities does not help to establish the fact of birth or permanent residence in Ukraine or the presence of appropriate family ties for acquisition of citizenship, the applicant shall file the court decision.

All documents are submitted by the applicant personally to the relevant territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine at his\her place of residence or to a diplomatic mission (if the applicant`s place of permanent residence is abroad).

In case of child’s acquisition of citizenship, the application is submitted by one of the parents. If the child is 14 years old at the time of submission of the documents, the child’s consent to acquire Ukrainian citizenship is submitted additionally.

Special care should be taken in the process of documents` preparation since the slightest mistake (even spelling!) can lead to a refusal to accept documents or, in the future, a refusal to acquire Ukrainian citizenship.


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