Changes in the conditions for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship: what do they entail?

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Lately, the topic of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship has surged in relevance, notably among foreigners and stateless individuals living within Ukraine's borders. Amidst the ongoing military conflict, many are keen on exploring the opportunity to become citizens of this nation, including the process's length and requirements.

In response to the comprehensive invasion by the Russian Federation, Ukrainian legislation has undergone significant modifications, particularly concerning the citizenship acquisition procedure. A pivotal document reflecting these changes is Law No. 2996-IX, which amended the "On Citizenship of Ukraine" and "On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language" laws.

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Innovations and Changes in the Procedure for Obtaining Ukrainian Citizenship

The aforementioned law has established new conditions for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship. A key change is the introduction of a comprehensive examination on the basics of the Constitution and the history of Ukraine as a mandatory requirement for citizenship. This examination will be conducted according to the procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, with the relevant resolution currently pending approval.

How does the citizenship examination process work? First, you must create an electronic account and register. This procedure requires an electronic digital signature.

The examination is written in the form of a test containing 45 questions with multiple-choice answers:

  • 20 questions on knowledge of the Constitution of Ukraine (at least 15 correct answers are required);
  • 25 questions on knowledge of the history of Ukraine (to pass the exam, at least 20 questions must be answered correctly).

The total pool of test questions includes 350 questions (160 from the Constitution and 190 from history). Sixty minutes are provided for answering the questions. With proper preparation, this is enough time to successfully pass the test.

Additionally, an individual must also possess a certain level of proficiency in the state language, which will be determined by the National Commission on Standards of the State Language. The innovation involves taking an exam to determine the level of proficiency in the state language, compared to previous requirements where it was sufficient to have a language proficiency level necessary for understanding.

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Features of the Law on Ukrainian Citizenship: Exceptions and Requirements for Individuals with Special Merits and Other Categories

The legislation has provided for exceptions to the examination requirement for certain categories of individuals. For instance, individuals with outstanding contributions to Ukraine, those serving in the military, and other specific categories may be granted citizenship without the need to pass exams. However, they must prove their knowledge within two years of obtaining citizenship. Otherwise, the decision to grant Ukrainian citizenship will be revoked.

The Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language" (Official Gazette of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, 2019, N 21, Art. 81) states:

"Individuals who have outstanding merits before Ukraine, including foreigners and stateless persons, who serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the State Special Transport Service, or the National Guard of Ukraine on a contractual basis, in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of Ukraine, individuals whose acceptance into Ukrainian citizenship represents a state interest for Ukraine, and persons who have received a temporary residence permit based on part twenty of Article 4 of the Law of Ukraine 'On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons,' have the right to acquire Ukrainian citizenship without certifying their level of proficiency in the state language, provided they commit to taking exams on the basics of the Constitution of Ukraine, the history of Ukraine, and the level of proficiency in the state language in accordance with the Law of Ukraine 'On Citizenship of Ukraine.' Such individuals are required to achieve the state language proficiency level defined by legislation within two years from the day of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship."

It's also important to note that the Law provides an exemption from the examination for individuals recognized as incapacitated by a court or those with certain medical restrictions.

This Law came into effect on October 27, 2023. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has already adopted a resolution "On Amending the Procedure for Conducting Examinations on the Level of Proficiency in the State Language." New rules are being introduced from January 1, 2024.

Changes in examination tasks include adding the writing of a text on a given topic, which has extended the time allowed for their completion. The optimal time for testing has been increased. However, the oral part, consisting of monologic speaking, remains unchanged.

For individuals wishing to obtain a Ukrainian passport, to confirm their level of proficiency in Ukrainian, an exam lasting 150 minutes (previously 120 minutes) has been established. The written and oral parts of the exam will be conducted in the form of anonymous computerized online testing.

Such amendments clarify and expand the conditions for obtaining Ukrainian citizenship for various categories of individuals. Our legal firm is ready to provide the necessary support and consultations aimed at successfully obtaining Ukrainian citizenship according to the new requirements.

The certificate obtained is valid indefinitely, meaning that if it's not possible to apply for citizenship immediately, it can be done at any convenient time. Of course, in the case of an unsatisfactory exam result, it can be retaken, but not earlier than four months later. The above procedure is only one of the key requirements for obtaining citizenship.

If you intend to obtain Ukrainian citizenship, other important issues, such as proving a sufficient level of income, evidence of permanent residence, and other aspects, should also be considered. Given the complexity of the procedure, we recommend seeking professional help if you are looking for information or need comprehensive support. You can contact our migration lawyers who have over 12 years of experience in this field and helped more than 80 foreigners obtain citizenship.

Our specialists are prepared to offer you the necessary legal support and assistance at all stages of the Ukrainian citizenship acquisition process, ensuring your peace of mind and a successful outcome.

Publication date: 16/01/2024

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