Update from September 2022:
As of December 2021, the Office for Foreigners reported a total of 311 ‘stateless persons’ and persons of ‘unknown nationality’ holding a valid residence permit, of whom 282 are registered as 'without nationality’, and 29 with ‘undefined nationality’. In 2021, there were eight applications for international protection lodged by stateless people and eight by people of ‘undefined nationality’. Three stateless people were granted refugee status. There was an increase in the number of applicants for international protection recorded as ‘Palestinian’, from 1 person in 2020 to 17 in 2021.
The most recent UNHCR Global Trends Report records 1,387 stateless people including forcibly displaced people in Poland, at the end of 2021.A footnote to the data states that: “[t]here is no official data on statelessness in Poland. The reported figure refers to the number of stateless persons holding a personal identification number issued by the Government, which does not cover all stateless people in the country.”
Stateless people and people at risk of statelessness fleeing Ukraine face difficulties when seeking admission and protection in Poland. Identity checks in case of lack of documents causes delays. Poland adopted the special act on assistance to citizens of Ukraine in connection with the armed conflict on the territory of that country. However, it does not extend temporary protection to stateless people who did not benefit from international protection or have permanent residence in Ukraine. They also face a risk of detention. There have been reports of discrimination against Romani people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
New resources on Poland now available include:
- 2021 Statelessness Index Survey
- Country briefing on access to protection for stateless refugees from Ukraine in Poland (in English, Ukrainian and Russian)
- ENS blog, A missed opportunity to address childhood statelessness in Poland (June 2021)
- Court of Justice of the European Union, Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich, C-2/21 (June 2021)
Although Poland is party to some relevant human rights instruments, it has not acceded to any of the core statelessness conventions. Its data on stateless populations in the country is unreliable, and there is no dedicated statelessness determination procedure. Some stateless people may regularise their stay through alternative administrative procedures, for example, during return or removal proceedings, but there are significant protection gaps. Stateless people can be detained solely to confirm their identity, and their protection needs are not considered during detention procedures. There is a legal route to naturalisation for stateless people in Poland, but residency and documentation requirements present significant barriers.
There is a safeguard in Polish nationality law to prevent statelessness in the case of adopted children and foundlings, and the law provides for the acquisition of nationality by a child born to unknown or stateless parents on the territory. However, it does not prevent statelessness in the case of children whose foreign parents cannot confer their nationality, and there are practical obstacles to acquiring Polish nationality for children born abroad to same-sex parents, which are discriminatory and may result in statelessness. Legal residence of the parents is not required for birth registration, and although Poland has received UPR recommendations on access to birth registration, there are no current reports of barriers to birth registration.
Information below by theme was last updated in March 2021.
Katarzyna Przybyslawska, Halina Niec Legal Aid Center