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 justification, why he/she applies for Polish citizenship, to a Consul or a Voivode, who hands on the application to the President. Knowledge of 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 he or she fulfils 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 permanent residence permit and stays continuously on this basis in Poland for 2 more years can be declared as a Polish citizen. In 2019 at least 20 and in 2020 at least 9 refugees were declared as Polish citizens. In 2021, at least 12 refugees were declared as Polish citizens. 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 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 Polish citizen).
Both, refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries, to be declared as a Polish citizen, have to prove that they know 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 Polish language as a foreign language (B1 at least). Those examinations are organised rarely (in 2016-2019, only twice-three times a year) and they are costly. To take an exam, foreigners often have to travel to another city, so bear the costs not only of the exam itself, but also of transportation and hotel, which may constitute an obstacle to naturalisation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the exams was hampered even more as many exam sessions were cancelled. In 2020, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights intervened before the Ministry of Education, pointing on the foreigners’ problems with the access to the exams (exams organised too rarely, not enough places for all interested persons). The Ministry answered that they are working on the improvements in this regard, however it concluded that the present system was generally sufficient. In 2021, the Ministry continued this work (the amendments to the Polish Language Act were devised and discussed, the idea of online State exams was tried out), but it was inconclusive. In 2021, the exams were organized on four different dates.
Other obstacles to naturalisation through a declaration as a Polish citizen are particularly the difficulties with providing a legal entitlement to stay in a residential property in writing (e.g. owners often do not want to sign a rental agreement, prefer oral agreements) and civil registration documents from a country of origin.
The beneficiary of international protection submits the application for 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. In practice though it lasts often longer.
 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.
 Information provided by the Ministry of Interior and Administration, 10 January 2020, 20 January 2021 ad 25 January 2022. The Ministry informed that those data may be incomplete as the decisions on declaration as Polish citizen are sometimes registered by the Voivode Offices with a delay.
 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 (Instutut Spraw Publicznych 2019), 25.
 Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Utrudniony dostęp cudzoziemców do egzaminów z jęz. polskiego’, 9 July 2020, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3b09h5L.
 Information provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, 26 January 2022.
 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 (Instutut Spraw Publicznych 2019), 23-24.
 Article 36(1) Law on Polish Citizenship.
 Article 10(4) Law on Polish Citizenship.
 Information provided by the President’s Office, 19 January 2017.