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Obtaining Russian citizenship

Russian law provides for two main ways to obtain Russian citizenship (also known as “receiving Russian citizenship”): by birthright, and as a result of naturalization. These two ways are in line with international practice on the whole, but have several nuances specific to Russia.


When Russian citizenship is obtained by birthright, one or both of the following two rules apply: the so-called right of blood (Lat. jus sanguinis), based on the citizenship of the child’s parents, as well as “right of the soil” (Lat. jus soli) based on the fact that someone was born within Russia.


In case of “naturalization,” the law identifies a «general» and a «simplified» procedure of obtaining Russian citizenship. Please note that the distinction between and names of the procedures are largely nominal. “Simplified” in this case does not mean “simple and fast,” as may be expected, because in most cases the foreign national must have a permanent resident’s status in Russia at the time of application for Russian citizenship, which, in turn, requires a Russian temporary residence permit (TRP). Therefore, the entire naturalization process, from the start to receiving a Russian passport, would take 2-2.5 years (24 – 30 months) as a minimum.
 

The procedure of obtaining citizenship

To answer the question: “How does one obtain Russian citizenship?” first of all, you would have to note the documents which you absolutely must submit with your application, regardless of which type of naturalization you qualify for:

  • Proof of good command of the Russian language
  • Proof of a lawful source of income
  • Application to relinquish the current citizenship

While proof of income is easy to obtain, good command of Russian and an application to relinquish the current citizenship are a serious hurdle (or even a deal-breaker) for many foreign nationals. For example, many US citizens and nationals of other countries decide to stay permanent residents of Russia, stopping short of a citizenship application.


There are always exceptions to the general rule: some foreign nationals may obtain Russian citizenship by direct presidential decree for their extraordinary merits, or for providing exceptional service to the Russian Federation. They do not have to obtain a temporary residence permit, become permanent residents, provide proof of income or of their mastery of Russian, etc, prior to that. Obviously, individuals who can take this path towards citizenship are extremely rare. They are usually renowned scientists, entrepreneurs and public figures, as well as top athletes, who have achieved outstanding results and excellence in their sports.


Naturalization is clearly a long, challenging process that requires a lot of effort and consists of many steps. Our experts will be happy to advise you on every one of them and, if necessary, provide comprehensive assistance, at every stage of the application process.

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