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Croatia could potentially gain more than one million new citizens

(Photo credit: Jelena Žanko)

Croatia could potentially gain more than one million new citizens when amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act eventually come into effect, CroExpress reports. 

Last week the Ministry of the Interior opened public consultations regarding the draft law on amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act.

The amendments are aimed at making the acquisition of citizenship to descendants of Croatian emigrants easier. 

Currently, only those whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents (up to third degree of lineal kinship) have Croatian citizenship can apply to become citizens, but the amendment will see those lineal kinship restrictions removed.

This will open the door for a lot of Croatians in the diaspora. Other changes include abolishing the Croatian language and culture examination and simplifying the process. 

Time will tell how many people will take advantage of the amendments but according to estimates, more than one million people will have the chance to take advantage of dual citizenship laws and apply to become Croatian citizens. 

Most in the United States

The largest Croatian community abroad is in the United States. According to the Croatian Consulate in America, the Croatian Catholic Mission, census data and estimates from Croatian communities, over 1.2 million Croatians and their descendants live in the US. A large number do not have Croatian citizenship or speak the language. 

In Canada, again according to data and estimates from the community, around 250,000 Croatians and their descendants live in Canada. 

In South America, the largest Croatian community is in Argentina where around 250,000 Croatians and their descendants are estimated to live. Most do not have Croatian citizenship. 

Australia is the next largest with around 126,000 Croatians and their descendants living there according to census data and estimates. A large number arrived in the second half of the 20th century. 

In New Zealand between 20,000 and 60,000 Croatians and their descendants are estimated living. Only a small number have Croatian citizenship and speak the language. 

There are also large numbers in other parts of South America like Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay and in South Africa. 

Recently we shared Jelena Žanko’s step-by-step guide on becoming a Croatian citizen. Jelena was born in America to Croatian parents. You can see her story here.

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