As of today, the Ukrainian passport is ranked 32nd among global passports despite the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine. As a law firm with a solid visa and immigration practice we are observing a surprising statistic – the number of requests we receive for legal help in obtaining Ukrainian citizenship has increased more than twice since March 2022.
Interest in Immigration and Citizenship for Ukraine Remains Strong
We believe there are several compelling reasons for this continued interest in immigration and Citizenship for Ukraine. In this article we would like to further outline when a foreigner can obtain a Ukrainian passport and what is needed for this. So, let’s go!
How to obtain Ukrainian Citizenship?
Unlike other countries, Ukraine does not grant its citizenship to anyone who can pay for it, or who has lived in the country a certain number of years. In other words, there is not Citizenship by Investment program for Ukraine.
As described below, there are only 10 situations when a person can become a Ukrainian citizen. These cases are clearly numbered in Article 6 of the Law of Ukraine On Ukrainian Citizenship.
10 Ways to become a Ukrainian Citizen
A person can obtain Ukrainian citizenship when he/she:
- Was born in Ukraine;
- Has Ukrainian ancestor or parent;
- Restored their Ukrainian citizenship previously renounced;
- Was accepted to Ukrainian citizenship.
We do know how to count, so you're probably asking: “Why are there only 4 grounds for citizenship while we said there are 10 ways to obtain citizenship?”
The above groups together various grounds for Ukrainian Citizenship in broad categories. Simply put, it is easier to comprehend and the differences between those legal grounds is merely in legal terminology and slight legal nuances. There is also one ground that we are not going to review in this article due to its exceptional nature – when citizenship is granted in accordance with international treaties of Ukraine.
The Process to Obtain Ukrainian Citizenship
The first 3 grounds from our list are very straightforward and self-explanatory. We assume it is pretty easy to guess whether your case falls under them or not. Hence, let us look deeper into the last legal ground – "when a foreigner can be accepted to Ukrainian citizenship."
There are some preconditions for being accepted to Ukrainian citizenship:
- Absence of another citizenship or undertaking to renounced (Ukraine doesn’t allow dual citizenship);
- Permanent living in Ukraine for a certain period of time;
- Comprehension of the Ukrainian language;
- Legitimate financial resources;
- Valid an immigration permit.
You may find these preconditions rather vague. That’s because we are referencing to them here to provide a general understanding. In fact, each of them has several possible options and exemptions. Thus, for your particular case they can vary and some of those may not be applicable at all.
Immigration to Ukraine as a Precondition for Citizenship
The most important precondition from the above list is the immigration permit. All the rest are doable, but an immigration permit is granted only in some particular cases and if none of them applies to you then nothing can be done.
There are a few exceptions from this rule as well. For example, an immigration permit is not required for refugees, asylum seekers, foreigners who served in the Ukrainian army for over 3 years, and some groups of citizens from Vietnam, Abkhazia, and orphans.
Do I qualify for an Immigration Permit in Ukraine?
In general, if you cannot match yourself with the below list, then this likely means that you can’t get an immigration permit and as a result – you can’t get Ukrainian citizenship.
So, do a self-check to decide in you can become a Ukrainian citizen:
- I’m a scientist or artist and my immigration is in Ukraine’s interest.
- I’m a highly skilled specialist or worker who are in high shortage in Ukraine.
- I invested in Ukraine not less than USD 100 000.
- I’m a sibling, grandchild or grandparent to a Ukrainian citizen.
- I was a Ukrainian citizen previously.
- I’m a parent, spouse or a minor child of a Ukrainian immigrant.
- I obtained the status of a human trafficking victim and have been living continuously in Ukraine for over 3 years since then.
- I’ve served in the Ukrainian army for over 3 years.
- I’ve been married to a Ukrainian citizen for over 2 years.
- I’m a child or parent of a Ukrainian citizen.
- I’m a foster parent of a Ukrainian citizen.
- I’m adopted by a Ukrainian citizen.
- I have a right to become a Ukrainian citizen by the territorial origin.
- My immigration is in the national interest of Ukraine.
- I’m a foreign (aka overseas) Ukrainian or his/her spouse or child.
How long does it take to obtain Ukrainian Citizenship?
The final decision to grand citizenship is taken by President of Ukraine. Merely this fact implies that the whole journey towards citizenship is not a sprint. In general, it takes around a year but it can also take longer.
At the end let us emphasize that this article provides a general overview of possible options for obtaining Ukrainian citizenship. As you can see now, there are many exceptions and peculiarities so each case should be considered separately.
It is also very important to clearly understand what rights and obligations citizenship bestows. Maybe citizenship is not the thing you should pursue and a better option for you is permanent or temporary residence in Ukraine.
Serhii Aleksandrov is Ukrainian legal practitioner since 2006. He has worked at 4-top Ukrainian law firms and is the Founder of Legal Ideas law firm, with a prime focus on immigration services. Traveler. Business expat. Vision: Immigration must be safe, fast and reasonably priced.
Interested in Ukrainian Immigration & Citizenship Pathways 👉 Contact Serhii Today