Greece: Whether a Greek woman who married a Lebanese man and acquired Lebanese citizenship still retains her Greek citizenship; whether her husband can accompany her to Greece and acquire Greek citizenship by virtue of their marriage
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||11 December 2008|
|Citation / Document Symbol||GRC103001.E|
|Related Document||Grèce : information indiquant si une Grecque qui a épousé un Libanais et obtenu la citoyenneté libanaise conserve sa citoyenneté grecque; information indiquant si son mari peut l'accompagner en Grèce et obtenir la citoyenneté grecque étant donné qu'ils sont mariés|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Greece: Whether a Greek woman who married a Lebanese man and acquired Lebanese citizenship still retains her Greek citizenship; whether her husband can accompany her to Greece and acquire Greek citizenship by virtue of their marriage, 11 December 2008, GRC103001.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49b92b481d.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
Article 22 of the Code of Greek Citizenship states that a "Greek woman who lost the Greek citizenship due to her marriage to a foreign person reclaims the citizenship, if she declares her will to do so to the General Secretary of the Region or to the Greek Consular Authority of the place of her residence" (Greece 10 Nov. 2004, Art. 22). In a telephone interview and in correspondence with the Research Directorate, a consular officer at the Greek Embassy in Ottawa stated that this law is still in effect (Greece 18 Nov. 2008; ibid. 21 Nov. 2008). According to the Consular Officer, Greece recognizes dual citizenship (ibid.). If a Greek woman lost her Greek citizenship because she acquired another citizenship, she would still maintain the right to reclaim her Greek citizenship (Greece 18 Nov. 2008). The Consular Officer stated that the process for obtaining Greek documents (such as a passport) would be straightforward if the woman is registered in the records of a municipality in Greece; it would still be possible, but more complicated, if she was never registered (Greece 14 Nov. 2008).
Article 30 of the Code of Greek Citizenship, states that "[m]arriage does not lead to the acquisition or to the loss of the Greek citizenship" (Greece 10 Nov. 2004, Art. 30). However, according to the Consular Officer, the spouse of a Greek citizen is entitled to obtain a "Permanent Residence Card" to live in Greece with his or her spouse (Greece 14 Nov. 2008). Specifically, a Lebanese citizen would need to obtain a Schengen Visa and a National Visa to travel to Greece (ibid.). According to the Greek Embassy website in Washington, DC, there is no fee for the spouse of a Greek citizen to obtain a Schengen Visa and an applicant requires the following documents: a valid passport or travel document, a completed and signed visa application form, one colour photograph (2 inches by 2 inches) glued to the application form, a marriage certificate, and proof that the spouse is a Greek citizen (such as a passport or identification card) (Greece 2005).
According to the Consular Officer, once in Greece, a spouse would need to apply for a permanent residence card from the local Greek authorities (Greece 14 Nov. 2008). The Consular Officer noted that a permanent resident cannot vote, but he or she has many of the same rights as a Greek citizen, including the same protections under the law and the right to work and live in Greece (Greece 18 Nov. 2008). According to an article in Athens News, an English-language newspaper, the permanent residence card is valid for ten years and is automatically renewable (Athens News 28 Mar. 2008). Although the spouse of a Greek citizen is entitled to permanent residence in Greece, there are some reasons he or she could be denied a visa or permanent residence card, such as if he or she were accused of a crime (Greece 18 Nov. 2008).
Requirements for obtaining Greek citizenship by naturalization are outlined in Article 5 of the Code of Greek Citizenship (Greece 10 Nov. 2004, Art. 5).The law states that foreigners of non-Greek origin can apply for Greek citizenship after residing in Greece for a total of ten years within a period of twelve years and that applicants need to have "sufficient knowledge" of the Greek language and of Greek history and civilization (ibid. Art. 5). However, it also states that foreign persons who have been recognized as refugees or do not have the citizenship of any country can apply after five years of residence within the last twelve years (ibid.). Furthermore, the law states that the "spouse of a Greek, who is residing for at least three years in Greece and has acquired a child" is eligible to apply and does not need to wait for ten years (ibid.).
Articles 6 through 9 of the Code of Greek Citizenship outline the procedure for obtaining citizenship (ibid. Art. 6-9). Applicants need to provide a declaration of naturalization, copies of their passport, residence permit, birth certificate (or baptismal certificate or political asylum decision), and income tax statement from the previous year, and pay the application fee (ibid. Art. 6).
According to articles in Athens News, the process for applying for Greek citizenship through naturalization is "long, expensive and complicated" (Athens News 29 Feb. 2008; ibid. 30 May 2008). The articles indicate that the application fee is 1500 euros and that it takes years for an application to be reviewed (ibid.). This information could not be corroborated among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Athens News. 30 May 2008. Kathy Tzilivakis. "The Making of Greek Citizens."
_____. 28 March 2008. Kathy Tzilivakis. "Ten Years On."
_____. 29 February 2008. Kathy Tzilivakis. "Overhauling Greek Citizenship Law."
Greece. 21 November 2008. Embassy of Greece, Ottawa. Correspondence from a consular officer.
_____. 18 November 2008. Embassy of Greece, Ottawa. Telephone interview with a consular officer.
_____. 14 November 2008. Embassy of Greece, Ottawa. Telephone interview with a consular officer.
_____. 2005. Embassy of Greece, Washington, DC. "Schengen Visa."
_____. 10 November 2004. Embassy of Greece, Washington, DC. Code of Greek Citizenship. Unofficial translation.
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sources, including: Citizenship Laws of the World, European Bulletin on Nationality