|28/6/2003 Compulsory Citizens of the non-conscious kind|
So, you were born outside of Poland, elsewhere in the world. But at least one of your parents or grandparents was Polish. You’ve never been to Poland – hell, you can’t even speak the language. Well, guess what? You’re a Polish citizen! And next time you travel to Poland you’d better have a Polish passport, or you could be in trouble with the law!!
Sounds absurd? It certainly does. But it also happens to be true. Yep, buddy, matey, pal, old chum – in the light of the current Polish law, you’re a Polak too. I know you hate flaczki (tripe) and you can barely stand the smell of Old Grandpa Jozek’s bimber (moonshine). It matters not. You’re a Polak.
But, I hear you say, some of my friends, who were also born outside of Poland, have travelled to Poland on an Australian passport in recent years. Yeah, that’s true, but if they did it in the last 18 months or so, they were potentially risking detention in Poland, since they were technically in breach of the new Polish law, which was revised and implemented in 2001.
Specifically, the new passport policy states that anybody with at least one Polish parent, grandparent or any forebear for that matter, is a Polish citizen and as such must have a Polish passport to enter Poland. Your friends were simply unaware of the fact that they were Polish citizens. So are you. So will your children, and their children, and so on. They just won’t know it.
Compulsory Citizens of the non-conscious kind.
And herein lies the problem with the new laws. When people, who do not know the new Polish passport laws, apply for a Polish visa, they are asked a simple question: “Are you a Polish citizen?” They answer “No” of course, and are given a visa into their Australian, Canadian or American passport. They are allowed to enter Poland and providing nothing untoward happens during their stay in Poland, they are allowed to leave Poland.
What do you mean “untoward”, I hear you ask? Well, anything that might alert the Polish authorities that you have Polish ancestry. For example, you could fall madly in love with one of those wholesome, busty young Polish girls your Daddy told you about and try to extend your visa for another two weeks at the district passport office. You happen to mention that the girl is from the same village your father came from or something equally benign and innocent.
And BANG! pal, you’re nicked !!
The lady with ABSOLUTELY no sense of humor behind the counter will tell you that, as a Polish citizen, you do not have to have a Polish visa to stay in Poland. In fact, you are welcome to stay in Poland as long as you want to – you’re a Citizen after all. Before you can think “You beauty!”, the “I-am-not-kidding” woman will add:
“BUT you can’t leave Poland until you get a Polish passport sir!”
After you stop laughing and pick up your jaw off the floor you’ll notice that she’s not laughing. “Fine, just give me a Polish passport then!” – you’ll say.
“Of course sir, just fill in these forms, which require your complete and detailed life history (including birth certificates, marriage certificates, your proof of ID (Australian passport is not enough!), your parents proof of ID, etc., etc.), and we will send you your Polish passport in about…oh, let’s see, about TWO MONTHS…”
I am not kidding, this is serious mum. Two months is the standard minimum waiting time for a Polish passport issued in Poland. You think that’s bad? Well, if you apply for it in Australia, the standard waiting time is 6 months !!!.
“So what are you complaining about?” – the joke-monster woman will say – “just find something to do for the two months and you’ll be just fine. Take the chesty girl to the movies or something…”
Right about now you’re probably thinking that the privilege of a dual citizenship should not be compulsory, but rather should be a matter of choice. You are an Australian citizen first, because you were born here. And since you have Polish ancestry, you could be entitled to also becoming a Polish citizen, if you want to and the Polish government agrees.
Well, you’re right of course, that’s how it should work, but currently it doesn’t. The “detention scenario” I described above is obviously hypothetical, but it has happened almost exactly like that for a number of Polish-Australians in recent years. Just this week in fact, Mr Rafal Weiss from Brisbane, was the victim of this ridiculous situation and was detained in Poland without the right to leave on his Australian passport – the same passport he entered the country with. (If you can read Polish, you can read about it HERE).
To be absolutely fair, the chances of the same happening to You are rather slim, especially if you have been pre-warned not to disclose your Polish ancestry at any stage, most notably when applying for a Polish visa – but it still could happen! And WILL happen from time to time to those who are not aware of the current situation.
Right now you’re probably thinking “Stuff Poland, who needs this shit? This year I’ll go somewhere else for my holidays!”. Well, so are many Polish-Australians, Canadians, Danes, Americans, Brazilians, Germans and wherever else you can find people with Polish origins.
“I know!” – you call out with joy after a sudden flash of enlightenment – “I’ll go to Guatemala!”. Well, be careful mate. You could be a Compulsory Citizen of that country too. On the other hand, you’re probably not. It is a third-world country after all…
Robert “where’s my copy of Orwell’s ‘1984’?” Jaworski
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|What’s their game – another bad Polish joke (An Australian ) 28/6/2003|
|I am truely stunned by this. Surely its one of those Polish Joke stories they concoct in America ? I was born here of Polish parents and I got myself a Polish passport nearly 10 years ago basically because it was cheaper than buying visas for Poland and France. I learned recently that the Polish Government changed the procedures for obtaining passports and that the waiting time for a passport is now 6 months. Well let the joke be on the Polish Government. If they don’t fix this anomaly, they’ll lose lots of tourism business. I don’t plan to travel to Poland in the future so I don’t really care for myself. After all, there are many other interesting places in the world to visit.|
|a big fuss over nothing! (Nathan) 28/6/2003|
|With all due respect the so called “passport trap” seems to be a creation of the Polonian media in the US & Australia. I am the 1st generation born in Australia. Both parents are Polish. I am proud to be a Polish Australia (the correct term for us all.)I travel to Poland several times a year both for pleasure & work and have NEVER had any problems. Problems with passports & visas seem to occur to people that have little forsight. I have no issues with the current Polish law. I have travelled to Poland on Australian & Polish passports. Hence i do not see what the big deal is!!!!!! Seriously if you want to avoid any problems just pay the $170 and obtain a Polish passport. Surely $170 is not a big deal to anyone these days!!!!!!!! After May 2004, people of Polish extraction will prefer to travel on a Polish passport due to the travel rights assocaited with EU membership|
|do you want fries with that? (007) 29/6/2003|
|Nathan wrote: >I have travelled to Poland on Australian & Polish >passports. Hence i do not see what the big >deal is!!!!!! Seriously if you want to avoid >any problems just pay the $170 and obtain >a Polish passport. Well, mate, if your lifetime goal is to become an assistant manager at McDonalds, I don’t see any reason why your being disloyal to your own country and obtaining for your petty schemes a passport of a foreign banana republic should in any way interfere with your ambitious career objectives. However, those of us who want to become successful outside of the “pierogies & bigos” ghetto and who desire a career as a high-tech engineer or programmer, an executive with a top company or a high-level official in the government or the military, can tell you that obtaining a passport from a foreign country will be an irreversible career damage as it will trigger the loss of security clearance. To those of you whose parents, in their naivete, blessed you with the questionable gift of getting a Polish passport for you – find yourself a good lawyer. It is not too late and you can still undo the damage, especially if you can prove that the passport was issued to you as a minor. The good news is also that you may not have to jump through all the hoops of the government of Poland and to go through their formal citizenship renunciation procedure (2+ yrs., hundreds of $, and, if you are lucky, their president’s approval) – Western courts are sympathetic to those facing these Byzantine requirements and should be satisfied with you returning the Polish passport and a demonstrated effort to sever all appearances of allegiance to Poland. For an example case, see: http://www.defenselink.mil/dodgc/doha/industrial/01-20081.h1.html Don’t let your sentiments for a backward Third World country destroy your dreams! Otherwise, keep practising “do you want fries with that” :-)!|
|Nathan… (John Kowalski) 29/6/2003|
|Looks like you don’t understand the problem. Seems like you are happy to comply with the requirements of a foreign state by having a Polish passport. The question is why should you use that unnecessary document if you have your own Australian passport? Isn’t it your legal travel document? What the article doesn’t say is that after expiration of your current Polish passport, to get a replacement according to new law of January 2003, you will have to register your birth certificate in Poland by providing a certified Polish translation of it in order to get a Polish issued birth certificate, because only that is legal for the Polish authorities. Then you would have to apply for an electronic Polish Citizen registration number, called PESEL. I don’t know how old you are, but if you get married in the mean time then you also have to legalize you marriage in Poland. It practically means getting officially married in Poland again, because your Australian marriage license won’t be legal. And don’t get divorced. You would have to legalize that too, in a Polish court. All of this documentation cost extra to the inflated polish passport fee. And you have to wait over 6 months to get your new Polish passport. Now, if you are happy about all of this and find no problem here, that’s fine. But there are hundreds of thousands of people that believe that this is totally abusive and that only one passport is necessary for a tourist. For many people getting a Polish passport is not an option at all because their job for a federal employer requires a security clearance. Having a foreign passport is a ground for revoking such clearance and it would result in a loss of a good job. These people practically can’t visit their relatives in Poland, see sick mother or attend a funeral. Finally, those who have been naturalized in the US took an oath of allegiance and getting a foreign passport is an act of treason for them. All of this could easily be fixed by recognizing dual citizenship by Poland or allowing easy renouncements of Polish citizenship. So far Poland is totally not interested in these solutions.|
|Polish Consulate is speaking … (jurek K) 29/6/2003|
|Somehow I’ve got an impression, that what Nathan has said was not coming from Nathan, but from Polish Consulate, or even perhaps from The Ministry of The Interior in Warsaw … 🙂|
|I know one thing. (Tomcio) 3/7/2003|
|I would never ever go to Poland again. My decision is set up by Polish Government because I can’t get all documents thay asking for, to get Polish passport. In Poland can’t found documents because thay have big mess, maybe someone disrepair all. For me is impossible to found it from my position. All I can do it is send private investigators to found or get proof of goodwill in Polish Office in Poland.|
|Standard waiting time 8 months in August (Stan) 20/8/2003|
|You say, the standard waiting time is 6 months? Half of my family after 6 month received TEMPORARY PASSPORT (standard waiting time: 6 weeks, and golden delivery AUD25 – more then send documents with DHL, or FEDEX to China or Europe) – they are in Poland, and 8 months gone, gone… gone….|
|What’s their game – another bad Polish joke (An (Stan) 20/8/2003|
|I studied all comments and I have feelings, that the Polish consul is collecting revenue for a new position of Mr Augustyn. Therefore they do not care about effects on polish economy. Bad habit – when you are U ZLOBA – grab as much as you are there.|
|a big fuss over nothing! (Nathan) 28/6/2003 (Stan) 20/8/2003|
|It is clear that Nathan hasn’t experienced application by new rules, it is clear he doesn’t have any memories of humilation of wating for results of appeal at Koszykowa 2 (in communist Poland, you were begging for passport after many months waiting at this address in Warsaw, however they were more effective with no computers than Sydney consulate). I wish Nathan to apply when our protests will change absurd law – there is no reason for a youg guy be prejudiced to Poland, we still have in hearts, in spite of jobs for the boys not fit for the job of administration of the passport system.|
|what the hell??? (expecting mother) 25/12/2003|
|I am married to a Polish man & i am also pregnant, i had thought that i would obtain a Polish passport for my chid to give him/her more access to europe without having to get visas, but after reading all of this as well as my husband telling me that if my child is a boy, he can be called to war if Poland so wishes… All the way from New Zealand?? Maybe things are just better left unsaid…|
|How Poland treats their own people. (Andrzej) 27/1/2004|
|Yes, that’s how Poland treats its own people and it usally goes unnoticed. Polish citizens are not citizens in the western sense of the word. They just treat people like cattle here.|