top of page
Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

(323) 306-4548

(888) 728-9080

  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

How to Get a Slovak Living Abroad Certificate [& the Benefits]

If you’re an American with any Slovak ancestry, you may have wondered about reconnecting with your heritage. One way to do so while increasing your freedom of movement is through a Slovak Living Abroad (“SLA”) certificate.

An SLA is a semi-citizenship available to descendants of ethnic Slovaks that provides a right of residency to its holder, as well as a shortened path to Slovak naturalization, and some other benefits.

It is different from Slovak citizenship by descent, although there are some overlapping benefits.

Article Outline:

  1. What Exactly is a Slovak Living Abroad Certificate?

  2. Eligibility Requirement #1 - Slovak Ancestry

  3. Eligibility Requirement #2 - Cultural Awareness

  4. Eligibility Requirement #3 - Language Awareness

  5. Eligibility Requirement #4 - FBI (or Equivalent) Background Check

  6. Eligibility Requirement #5 - SLA Application

  7. Extra Resources

  8. Video Explainer

This article will educate you on what a Slovak Living Abroad Certificate is, its benefits, and the process of obtaining one.

What Exactly Is A Slovak Living Abroad Certificate?

The Slovak Living Abroad Certificate can be considered a form of semi-citizenship offered by Slovakia to individuals who are descendants of ethnic Slovaks.

Notably, the SLA does not grant you a passport. Instead, it provides you with the invaluable opportunity to live, work, establish a business, or pursue studies in Slovakia indefinitely. It does this by way of granting its holder eligibility for a temporary residency in Slovakia. The SLA also offers its holder who takes up residency in Slovakia a dramatically shortened path to Slovak naturalization.

If the certificate holder resides in Slovakia for a continuous period of three years, they become eligible to apply for naturalization, a significantly expedited process compared to the regular route. This streamlined procedure opens doors to second citizenship (Slovak) and its associated benefits in a relatively shorter timeframe.

In its physical form, the Slovak Living Abroad Certificate resembles a card, slightly larger than a driver's license.

Aside from the practical benefits it offers to individuals of Slovak descent, possessing the certificate tends to hold an inherent sense of pride and connection to one's Slovak heritage. For those who identify strongly with their Slovak roots, obtaining a Slovak Living Abroad Certificate can be a meaningful and fulfilling accomplishment.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for the Slovak Living Abroad Certificate, certain requirements must be met. Let's explore the criteria for eligibility:

Eligibility Requirement #1 - Slovak Ancestry

There is no specific generational limit on your relation to the ancestor who lived in Slovakia. It could be your father, grandmother, grandfather, or even your great-great-grandfather or beyond. The crucial factor is that you can trace your lineage back to someone who was an ethnic Slovak.

At present, for American SLA applicants, the most common ways to prove ethnicity have been U.S. naturalization petitions, ship manifest records, and 1920 census records where the “native tongue” for your qualifying ancestor shows as being Slovak.

To establish this chain of descent, you will need to gather and provide the birth certificates of each successive ancestor, starting from your Slovak ancestor and leading up to your own birth certificate. These birth records, if not from Slovakia, must also be apostilled. Additionally, any non-Slovak language documents in the chain will need to be translated.

Eligibility Requirement #2 - Cultural Awareness

Another important requirement for obtaining the Slovak Living Abroad Certificate is to demonstrate Slovak cultural and language awareness.. While this requirement may seem somewhat vague, it is set by the government of Slovakia as a means to ensure applicants have a genuine connection to the country's cultural heritage.

To fulfill this requirement, you can join a Slovak cultural organization in your country and actively engage in its activities. Of course, aside from fulfilling the SLA requirement, by becoming a member and participating in various events, you can reap the benefits of immersing yourself in Slovak traditions, customs, and community.

Once you have been actively involved in the organization for a sufficient period of time, you can request a letter from the decision-maker or a representative confirming your cultural familiarity.

This letter serves as evidence that you have embraced Slovak culture through your participation and commitment to the cultural organization. The letter is to be submitted along with your SLA application and other supporting documentation when you apply for the SLA.

Eligibility Requirement #3 - Language Awareness

Having a certain level of familiarity with the Slovak language is a formal requirement. In reality, for applicants applying in the U.S., it appears this requirement is rarely, if ever applied.

Although there is no specific document to submit, it can be beneficial to have taken Slovak language courses or acquired a certification indicating your proficiency level, such as A1, A2, or B1. During the application process, you will have to interact with the consulate officer, and some knowledge of the Slovak language certainly won’t help your application.

Eligibility Requirement #4 - FBI (or Equivalent) Background Check

If you are a United States citizen, you will need to obtain an FBI background check.

Similarly, applicants from other countries will need to acquire an equivalent background check. The process for obtaining an FBI background check involves providing your fingerprints, which can be done at designated facilities such as certain post offices. The results of the background check, known as an identity summary history, are an essential component of your application.

Sample of an FBI identity history summary (background check) for someone with no criminal record

Eligibility Requirement #5 - SLA Application

If you have Slovak ancestry and are interested in obtaining a Slovak Living Abroad Certificate (SLA), this guide will walk you through the application process. The SLA serves as recognition of your Slovak heritage and offers various benefits related to Slovak language, culture, and semi citizenship.

First, gather all the necessary documents required for the application. These include qualifying documents, apostilles (if needed), and translations. Take the time to compile a complete and accurate set of documents.

For applicants residing in the United States, contact the Slovak consulate located either in Washington D.C. or New York. You will be assigned to one of these consulates, depending on your geographic location. Schedule an appointment well in advance, as consulate availability may vary. At the time of this writing,, the D.C. consulate had an appointment waiting time of approximately five to seven weeks. However, please note that this timeline may have changed since then.

Once you have your appointment scheduled, you will need to visit the consulate in person to submit your documentation and present your application. Ideally, an applicant will be prepared to engage in some interaction in Slovak, as part of the process. The consulate staff will review your application and attempt to ensure it meets the necessary requirements.

Note: according to Slovak law, the Slovak Living Abroad Office in Bratislava is responsible for adjudicating SLA applications, not the consulates.

By law, the SLA office is supposed to process applications within 60 days of receiving it. However, in practice, it is possible that the process may take longer, especially given the time it takes for your SLA application to arrive at the SLA office in Bratislava.

Eventually, you’ll receive a decision on your SLA. Hopefully it’s good news.

In addition to being a global mobility lawyer, I'm also a Slovak descendant. If you'd like to know about my own experience applying for an SLA, you can click here for a breakdown, and you can click here for a short video I took on the day of my submission.

Extra Resources for Your SLA Journey

Navigating the process of obtaining the Slovak Living Abroad Certificate can sometimes be challenging. To help you along the way, here are some additional resources that you may find useful:

  • A High-Quality Binder: Keeping track of all the required documents can be daunting. Consider investing in a sturdy and well-organized binder to keep your documents secure and easily accessible.

  • Plastic Sleeves: To maintain the neatness and organization of your documents, plastic sleeves can be a practical solution. They provide protection while allowing you to view and handle the documents easily.

Video Explainer

Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page