The status of ‘Slovak living abroad’ may be granted to Slovaks living outside of the country who do not have permanent residence in the Slovak Republic but have Slovak citizenship. Similarly, those who do not possess Slovak citizenship but maintain that they or their relatives are Slovak nationals can also be granted this status. From January 1, 2006 the document proving this is the Certificate of Slovak Living Abroad (Osvedčenie Slováka žijúceho v zahraničí) which replaced the previously issued Expatriate Card (Preukaz zahraničného Slováka).
The Office for Slovaks Living Abroad (ÚSZZ) issues certificates of Slovak living abroad as per the Act on Slovaks living abroad. According to the law in question, the certificate holder obtains a temporary residence permit. Furthermore, the holder does not need a Slovak work permit and can start a business in Slovakia or get a trade licence. The certificate also enables them to obtain citizenship after an uninterrupted three-year stay in Slovakia. It also enables its holders to study at Slovak universities.
An application for the certificate, completed in Slovak, must be submitted by mail or in person to a Slovak embassy or consulate, or in person to the ÚSZZ in Slovakia.
The application must be accompanied by a document verifying Slovak nationality (such as a school diploma or certificate, identification card, or military identification card) or that of some of the applicant's direct ancestors up to the third generation as well as a document verifying their Slovak cultural and language awareness.
Applicants who fail to present any of these documents may submit a written testimony from a Slovak ethnic organisation active in their place of residence, they may submit a notarised statement signed by at least two Slovak expatriates or Slovak citizens living in the same country.
Other documents required include certificates of no criminal record in Slovakia and the applicant’s place of residency as well as a birth certificate, marriage certificate and passport.
For more information on the application process and required documents, go to www.uszz.sk
Up to the end of 2005, the certificate was issued by the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry in the form of the expatriate card. The ministry issued a total of 10,772 cards. Since 2006 certificates have been issued by the ÚSZZ. During that time, the office has recorded a rise in applications for the certificate. More than 1,000 people applied in 2007, compared to fewer than 680 in 2006.
In 2008 the office issued 1,241 certificates of ‘Slovak living abroad’, boosting the total number of people holding the status to about 13,000.
Sources: TASR, ÚSZZ, and official government reports