Polish citizenship can be obtained through two procedures. Firstly, citizenship can be granted by the Polish President. Any foreigner can apply to President to be granted Polish citizenship; there are no specific conditions and criteria for obtaining citizenship in this procedure. A foreigner only has to submit a form with information about him or herself and a justification, of why he/she applies for Polish citizenship, to a Consul or a Voivode, who hands on the application to the President. Knowledge of the Polish language is not required. The citizenship is granted free of charge. The President’s refusal is a final decision and cannot be appealed.
Secondly, a foreigner can be declared as a Polish citizen if they fulfil the criteria specified in law. Both refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries have to obtain first a permanent residence permit (zezwolenie na pobyt stały) or EU long-term residence permit in Poland.
A refugee who has been granted a permanent residence permit and stays continuously on this basis in Poland for 2 more years can be declared as a Polish citizen. There is no similar rule concerning subsidiary protection beneficiaries. To be declared as Polish citizens, they have to fulfil the same criteria as any other foreigner who obtained a permanent residence permit or EU long-term residence permit in Poland (i.e. 2-3 years stay in Poland on this basis or 10 years of legal stay in Poland independently of the basis of the stay, stable and regular resources, legal entitlement to stay in a residential property or marriage with a Polish citizen).
Both, refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries, to be declared as a Polish citizen, have to prove that they know the Polish language. Foreigners should present a document confirming that they have graduated from a Polish school or that they have passed the State exam for the Polish language as a foreign language (B1 at least). Those examinations are rarely organised (in 2016-2019, only twice-three times per year, and 4 times per year in 2021 and 2022) and they are costly. To take an exam, foreigners often have to travel to another city, bearing the costs not only of the exam itself but also of transportation and hotel, which may constitute an obstacle to naturalisation. In the years 2019-2022, the organisation of these State exams was controlled by the Supreme Audit Office. It concluded that the responsible authorities did not collect the necessary data to assess how efficient the current system to determine sufficient knowledge of the Polish language is. It noticed that the available places for exams run out after 10-15 minutes from the beginning of the registration, so the system seems to be inadequate to meet existing needs. Furthermore, trainings for examiners were incorrectly organized. In the years 2019-2021, 19,477 certificates were issued upon passing the exam. Moreover, 738 certificates were issued without a person taking the exam.
Additional barriers to obtaining Polish citizenship through a declaration include difficulties in obtaining written proof of entitlement to reside in a particular property (as property owners may prefer verbal agreements rather than signing a rental agreement), as well as obtaining civil registration documents from the individual’s country of origin.
The beneficiary of international protection submits the application for a declaration as a Polish citizen to Voivode who has jurisdiction over their current place of stay. The fee for obtaining citizenship is 219 PLN/47 EUR. The Voivode decision can be appealed to the Minister of Interior. The procedure should last one month or two if it is a complicated case.
 Article 18 Law of 2 April 2009 on Polish citizenship.
 Article 19-21 Law on Polish citizenship.
 Article 30 Law on Polish citizenship.
 Article 30(1)(3) Law on Polish citizenship.
 Article 30(1)(1), (2) and (6) Law on Polish citizenship.
 Article 30(2) Law on Polish citizenship.
 Information from the official exams’ website, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2uBSEMw.
 P. Kaźmierkiewicz, ‘Obywatelstwo’ in A. Górska, M. Koss-Goryszewska, J. Kucharczyk (eds), W stronę krajowego machanizmu ewaluacji integracji: Diagnoza sytuacji beneficjentów ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce (Instytut Spraw Publicznych 2019), 25.
 Supreme Audit Office, ‘Wystąpienie pokontrolne. Egzaminy poświadczające znajomość języka polskiego – I-21-003-KNO’, no. KNO.411.003.01.2021, 21 January 2022, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3KpySbm.
 P. Kaźmierkiewicz, ‘Obywatelstwo’ in A. Górska, M. Koss-Goryszewska, J. Kucharczyk (eds), W stronę krajowego machanizmu ewaluacji integracji: Diagnoza sytuacji beneficjentów ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce (Instytut Spraw Publicznych 2019), 23-24.
 Article 36(1) Law on Polish Citizenship.
 Article 10(4) Law on Polish Citizenship.