From foreigner to Serbian citizen
The Henley Passport Index report, which ranks travel documents, puts Serbia in a high 38th place. According to the report, Serbia’s passport allows entry into 139 countries without a visa. Therefore, in recent years, we have noticed great interest in RS citizenship. If you are married or in extramarital union with a Serbian citizen, you enjoy benefits in terms of status in the Republic of Serbia. The legal rules applicable in this case allow the journey from being a foreigner to being a Serbian citizen to take place much faster and with less effort. In this text, we will look into the necessary steps on the path to citizenship.
Visa for Serbia
The first step is to enter the country. Citizens of EU member states, as well as citizens of the USA, Balkan countries, and some other countries do not have to obtain a visa to enter Serbia. They are allowed to enter and stay for up to 90 days over a period of 6 months without any visa or residence permit requirements. It is always necessary to check whether a visa is required for citizens of a certain country, because it is subject to change. If, on the other hand, a visa is required, the foreigner may submit a request to the competent Serbian embassy for the issuance of type C or type D visa. Type C visa is a short-stay visa, with which the foreigner can stay up to 90 days in a period of 180 days entry. Type C visa cannot be the basis for applying for temporary residence. If a foreigner wants to spend more than 90 days or if his ultimate goal is to move to Serbia, he needs a type D visa. The documentation for type D visa application differs from the type C visa only in terms of the obligation to provide proof that refers to the existence of marriage, ie. extramarital union. Type D visa allows a foreigner to stay in Serbia for a period of 90-180 days, which is twice as long as type C visa, and is certainly necessary for the further path to citizenship.
After arriving in Serbia, it is necessary to register the address of residence in the competent police station within 24 hours of entering the country. On that occasion, the foreigner receives a so-called “white card” which is part of the necessary documentation which is attached to temporary residence permit request. There are over 30 different grounds for requesting a temporary residence permit, and in this particular case, “family reunification – marriage with a citizen of the Republic of Serbia” or “family reunification – extramarital union with a Serbian citizen” applies. The Foreigners Office at the Ministry of Interior is responsible for the procedure, and the procedure itself lasts up to 30 days. The request is submitted by the foreigner in person. The competent authority reserves the right to ask the foreigner additional questions at the oral examination as well as to request additional documentation, if necessary. That is why, among other things, it is desirable for a foreigner to be represented by a lawyer. If all legal conditions are met, and the competent authority assesses that it is purposefully, it grants the foreigner a stay for a period of one year.
The next step towards citizenship is permanent residence. A necessary condition for obtaining a permit is that the foreigner has been granted temporary residence for at least three years and to effectively stay in the territory of Serbia with the possibility of multiple leave of up to 10 months or single leave of up to 6 months for a period of 3 years. This is an exception to the general rule which prescribes a period of residence for a period of 5 years as a precondition for submitting a request. Therefore, it is the case of permanent residence in special cases and refers to a foreigner who is married or in extramarital union with a Serbian citizen, and for that reason enjoys the benefits prescribed by the applicable regulations. If all legal conditions are met and the body approves permanent residence, the foreigner is obliged to personally submit a request to the Foreigners Office for the issuance of an identity card for a foreigner within 30 days of obtaining the approval. In case of non-fulfillment of this obligation, the person may be liable for misdemeanor. A foreigner with approved permanent residence has an address of residence, which is the place where he settled with the intention to live permanently, ie the place where the center of his life activities is, economic, social, professional and other connections prove permanent connection with the place of residence. The foreigner is obliged to inform the competent authority about the change of residence within 8 days, otherwise he may be misdemeanor liable. Penalties are fined and range from 5,000.00 to 150,000.00 RSD per violation. It should be noted that the right to permanent residence of a foreigner may be terminated if:
– represents a real and dangerous threat to public order or his further stay on the territory of the state represents an unacceptable risk to the security of Serbia and its citizens;
– a protective measure of distance or a security measure of expulsion of a foreigner has been imposed on him;
– provided false information about his identity or concealed circumstances that were important for deciding on the rights in the previous procedure;
– it is determined that he emigrated from the Republic of Serbia or that he resided abroad continuously for more than one year;
– renounced the right of permanent residence.
The last step is to apply for citizenship. In general, the current legislation provides 4 grounds for acquiring Serbian citizenship:
– by origin;
– by birth on the territory of the Republic of Serbia;
– by admission to citizenship;
– on the basis of international agreements.
For the acquisition of Serbian citizenship by persons who are married, ie. in extramarital union the ground is the admission to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia. The general conditions for acquiring citizenship on this ground at the request of a foreigner are prescribed, so it is required that:
– the foreigner has been granted permanent residence in the RS;
– the foreigner has reached the age of 18 and has not been deprived of legal capacity;
– has a release from foreign citizenship or submits proof that he will receive a release if he is admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia;
– until the submission of the request, had continuously registered residence in the territory of the Republic of Serbia for at least three years;
– submits a written statement that he considers the Republic of Serbia as his state.
However, for the acquisition of citizenship, the benefits apply only to persons who are married to a Serbian citizen, while persons in an extramarital union must meet all the general conditions we have listed. Namely, a foreigner who has been married to a citizen of the Republic of Serbia for at least three years does not have to meet all the above conditions for admission to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, but only two, as follows:
– that he was granted permanent residence in the Republic of Serbia and
– to submit a written statement that he considers the Republic of Serbia as his state.
The request for citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is submitted in person or through a proxy in the police administration at the place of residence or stay of the applicant, and can also be submitted through the competent diplomatic and consular mission of Serbia, which will submit it to the Ministry of Interior without delay. The procedure is urgent, but in practice it can take several months, depending on the case. The Ministry of interior is obliged to immediately submit the final decision on acquiring the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia to the body responsible for the registration of citizens, ie. birth register.