Making My First Move

No, it’s not overseas. I wish!

We all have to start somewhere, so I am starting with a first meeting with whom I hope will be my lawyer. (I’ve been waiting weeks for this, apparently I am not the only aspiring expat out there).

I am an American citizen from birth, but I’m aspiring to branch out into second passport territory. I am a third-generation American. My grandparents immigrated here from Poland at the turn of the 20th century. I’m trying to figure out how I can gain citizenship by descent.

Now settle down, all of you who have Irish or Italian grandparents. Y’all have it easy. Poland is hard.

My great-grandparents came here essentially stateless. I am assuming they either were fleeing communist rule, were just doing what Poles did around 1900, or maybe even had work waiting for them in the U.S. That last one is reaching and I have zero proof of that. It’s more likely they were intercepted by a Cleveland employer when disembarking from the SS Unknown in New York. By “them” I mean my great-grandfather as great-grandma didn’t work. (She also came over separately).

But the first lawyer told me they couldn’t help me unless I proved my great-grandparents declared Polish citizenship from American soil at a consulate after 1920, once Poland had become a state. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet for something that could define the law for me. I found something one day that said if I could find my great-grandparents’ address back in Poland, that was all I’d need.

This is so frustrating. I am sure this has to be the hardest part though — just figuring out how to obtain my Polish citizenship by descent legally. (Yes, I am quite aware Poland’s Law & Justice Party frowns upon illegal immigrants).

So I’ve been collecting as many documents as I can like immigration papers — which are impossible to find. Still looking. I have my great-grandfather’s naturalization records, thank God he had such a unique name, which I only recently learned… Those were a huge find.

Tracing Polish genealogy is a lot of work! But I’ve learned so much this year while working on it during these “stay at home orders” and “mask mandates” which leave me no desire to go out.

The most shocking thing I learned was that my great grandfather lived in the United States for more than 40 years before becoming a U.S. citizen. I don’t even know if that helps my case or if it’s meaningless information. Hopefully this new lawyer will help me clear this up tomorrow.

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