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Zelenskyy's citizenship initiative: Closer look at how foreigners can become Ukrainians

Zelenskyy's citizenship initiative: Closer look at how foreigners can become Ukrainians President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proposed in his bill to update the procedure for acquiring citizenship for individuals who, as part of the Armed Forces, participate in the defense of the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as their family members, according to the text of the bill.

Bill's goal

The purpose of the draft law of Ukraine, "On Certain Issues in the Field of Migration Regarding the Grounds and Procedure for Acquiring and Terminating Ukrainian Citizenship," is stated to be the updating of provisions in migration and citizenship legislation.

This includes the grounds and procedures for acquiring and terminating Ukrainian citizenship for individuals who, as part of the Armed Forces or other formations established in accordance with the laws, participate in the defense of Ukraine's independence and territory.

Who is planned to be granted immigration permission outside the quota

One member of a couple, if the other member of the couple is a deceased Ukrainian citizen and a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This applies irrespective of the duration of the marriage, as long as the application is submitted during a state of war or no later than within 6 months.

Entry into and exit from Ukraine for foreigners serving under contract in the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be facilitated using a passport and military ID.

Conditions for obtaining citizenship

Foreigners serving in the ranks of the Armed Forces must reside in Ukraine for over three years to qualify for citizenship. They are required to recognize and adhere to the Constitution of Ukraine, its laws, history, and confirm their proficiency in the state language.

Upon the adoption of the law, there should be a declaration of self-recognition as a Ukrainian citizen. This document, submitted during the application process for Ukrainian citizenship, is where the foreigner acknowledges themselves solely as a citizen of Ukraine.

The law should also regulate the possibility of submitting an expired passport document by foreigners and stateless individuals who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under contract. This submission is for obtaining a temporary residence permit.

A separate provision in the proposed law offers a simplified option for obtaining Ukrainian citizenship for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, EU member states, Switzerland, Japan, and Canada.

Multiple citizenship in Ukraine

It is noted that multiple citizenship is the status where a person acknowledges themselves as a citizen of two or more countries according to the laws of those countries. However, the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 4) specifies that Ukraine recognizes only single citizenship.

In October 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the view that introducing multiple citizenship in Ukraine was necessary, with exceptions related to the prohibition of any dual citizenship with an aggressor state.

Even before the full-scale invasion by Russia in Ukraine, there were discussions at the legislative level to regulate the issue of multiple citizenship.

In December 2021, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy introduced a bill on multiple citizenship to the Verkhovna Rad (Ukrainian Parliament), but the document was not reviewed.

Today, Zelenskyy has announced that he will submit a bill on multiple citizenship to the Parliament.