Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Three, Four or Five Years for Croatian Permanent Residence? It Depends

May the 4th, 2022 - Most people living in Croatia have it firmly stuck in their heads that first they must live with lawful temporary residence (uninterrupted, might I add) for a period of five consecutive years before applying for permanent residence after five years and one day. Is that the only path to Croatian permanent residence, however? No, not quite. Let's take a deeper look.

Croatian permanent residence after five years

Croatian permanent residence is typically obtained after five years and one day of living legally in Croatia with temporary residence. If you're from the EU/EEA/EFTA, that means you must be in the country for at least six months per calendar year while you hold temporary residence, and that logically means you can also be out of Croatia for six months per year without losing your residence or any of your rights here.

If you aren't from an EU/EEA/EFTA country, then your situation is a little more strict. You need to be in the country for much longer each year, with tighter restrictions on your movements abroad until you transition to permanent residence at the end of your five years.

What does that mean, exactly?

You're free to be outside of the territory of Croatia on multiple different trips for a period of up to 90 days (three months) or 30 days from the day you're given the green light and your application for temporary residence for one year is granted to you by MUP.

A little like levels on a game, this ''freedom'' time increases as your time approved to be living here does, so you can be outside of the country on multiple different trips for up to 180 days (six months), or a maximum of 60 days in one stretch from the day you're approved for two years of temporary residence. The latter is also the case if you're registered as a Croatian citizen's family member.

The reason it's worth explaining the ins and outs of that is because many people assume MUP doesn't or cannot check where you are and that once you have legal temporary residence in Croatia, that's it until your next application, that is often the case, but may not be. They might never check up on you, especially if you're an EU citizen, but they can, so it's worth keeping it in mind. There are exceptions to these rules of course, much like with everything else in Croatia, and if you have a valid reason to be outside of the country for a longer period, such as illness, childbirth, military service, etc, you will likely be given permission to remain outside for longer, but you must explain this and ask.

Croatian permanent residence after four years

A little law change came in somewhat recently, making it possible for the spouses and other relatives of Croatian nationals to apply for Croatian permanent residence after four years as opposed to the typical five.

What does that mean, exactly? 

If you're the family member or life partner of a Croatian citizen and you have been granted temporary residence for a continuous period of four years for the purpose of family reunification or life partnership, then you have the right to apply for Croatian permanent residence after four years of uninterrupted residence.

Croatian permanent residence after three years

In certain cases, individuals can apply for Croatian permanent residence after three years, completely removing the need to sit and wait for a further one or two. These cases tend to be a bit more complex, and they only cover quite a small number of people.

What does that mean, exactly?

If you're classed or declared to be a member of the Croatian people with foreign citizenship or you're stateless (you aren't a citizen of any recognised nation) who can prove your status with a certificate issued by the state administration body responsible for relations with Croats outside of the Republic of Croatia, and if you've been found to have returned with the intention of living permanently in Croatia, you can apply for permanent residence after holding temporary residence (uninterrupted) for a three year period.

If, until the day of you handing in your application, you've been granted temporary residence in Croatia for three consecutive years, and you've been classed as a refugee for at least ten years, you can apply for Croatian permanent residence.

If you're the child of third country nationals who already hold Croatian permanent residence, you too can apply for Croatian permanent residence after a three year period (of holding uninterrupted, lawful and documented temporary residence).

Croatian permanent residence under more favourable terms (discretion, highly individual cases)

In some cases, Croatian permanent residence can be granted under different rules. This regards highly specific situations involving the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the Homeland War, and the situations which occurred immediately after in an administrative sense and which involved displaced persons.

What does that mean, exactly?

If you hold the citizenship of a third country, so a non EU/EEA/EFTA nation, and you had a registered residence in the Republic of Croatia on the 8th of October, 1991, and if you're the user of a return programme, you can apply for Croatian permanent residence. You will need to provide MUP with an array of documentation proving your right to your claim which will differ from the usual procedure.

 

SOURCES: MUP

For more on Croatian permanent residence, keep up with our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Croatian Language Test for Permanent Residence, Yes or No?

May the 3rd, 2022 - One of the most common questions one tends to read on expat groups small and large from up and down the country from residents of Croatia nearing the golden five year mark of temporary residence is Do I need to pass a Croatian language test for permanent residence? 

Understandably, this question is usually bombarded with answers from different people from across the world who have residence based on all sorts of different reasons, from marriage to druge svrhe (other purposes) and everything in between, all of whom were approached differently by the authorities.

What Zdenka at the desk in Rijeka says to someone applying who happens to have a Croatian (or indeed Austro-Hungarian) distant relative and what Mirna at Petrinjska in Zagreb says to someone applying based on family reunification will likely be very different. So, let's get to the point. Do you need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence? The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Helpful, I know. Let's look into who has to take it and who doesn't.

EEA/EU/EFTA citizens

If you hold the citizenship of a European Union, European Economic Area or European Free Trade Association Area country, you do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence. Pure and simple.

The EFTA countries are Iceland, Norway, the Principality of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, none of which are EU or EEA member states or part of the Customs Union and negotiate trade deals separately to the EU, but which do enjoy a similar free trade agreement with the European Union.

Third country citizens

Third country citizens or nationals are individuals who don't hold the citizenship of an EU, EEA or EFTA country. These people typically do need to sit a Croatian language test for permanent residence. The language test is at the B1 level and includes understanding, reading, writing, speaking and perhaps the worst of all for anyone who has spent time around the Croatian language - grammar. 

If you pass this test, you'll be presented with a certificate from any of the education institutes which run these tests which you can then take to MUP as part of your permanent residence application. A list of such institutes running the tests can be found on MUP's website so that you can pick and contact the one closest to your address.

Exceptions for third country citizens

You do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence if you're 65 or over and are unemployed, if you're of pre-school age, or if you've already completed your compulsory (mandatory) primary and/or secondary in Croatia, or if you've completed higher education here.

Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who had legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of December, 2020

British citizens who had legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of January 2020 and who as such fall into the category of those who are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence.

British nationals were once also EU citizens, and as such had the rights to freedom of movement, one of the fundamental pillars of the European Union, until the 31st of December, 2020, when the UK's transition period out of the bloc ended. Those British nationals who held temporary or permanent residence before the UK's withdrawal from the bloc, more precisely before the end of its transition period, are protected and have acquired rights in Croatia. Their residence status and rights are unaffected.

That said, they did need to apply for a new residence document which demonstrates their protected status before the end of June, 2021. British citizens who are in this category who have not yet got their new document can still do so and their rights will not be affected, but they may face a small administrative fine for not having made the application before the specified date. The application for the new document is not a new residence application, but merely a demonstration to MUP that you are owed it. If you already held permanent residence in Croatia before the end of the UK's transition period, this will be an extremely easy exercise.

Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who did not hold legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of December, 2020

If you're British and didn't exercise your right to free movement across the EU before the aforementioned date, you fall under the category of a third country national and as such need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence.

Those married to Croatian citizens

If you're an EU/EEA/EFTA citizen married to a Croatian citizen and are applying for permanent residence (which in this case can now be applied for after four years as opposed to five), you do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence based entirely on your own nationality which affords you certain rights in Croatia.

If you're a third country national married to a Croatian citizen and are applying for permanent residence (which is also now after four years in your case, too, not five), you may be asked to take a test, and you may not be. I realise how unhelpful that is, but people have vastly different experiences when it comes to this depending on when they've applied, where they live (and as such which administrative police station they've used), and quite frankly, what side of the bed the clerk woke up on that morning.

For more on nationality and residence in Croatia, keep up with our lifestyle section.

Search