Slovak Living Abroad Certificate - My Experience Applying
Updated: Apr 19
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
(Danube Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia)
If you have a direct ancestor that was an ethnic Slovak, you may qualify for a Slovak Living Abroad (“SLA”) certificate. As we’ve written before, an SLA is a kind of “semi-citizenship” reserved for people who are ancestors of ethnic Slovaks.
This article is only about my experience submitting an SLA application. Details about who qualifies and how to apply can be found here.
An SLA can be a nice way to be recognized by the country of Slovakia as a member of Slovakia’s diaspora. This is the kind of thing that can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside if you’re into your ancestry.
Also, an SLA provides some attractive immigration benefits:
a relatively easy path to residency in Slovakia, a European Union country; and
a shortened three year path to naturalization residency along with a few other benefits.
Setting Up the SLA Appointment
On Friday, November 5th, 2021, I traveled from where I live in Los Angeles, California to Washington D.C. to submit my SLA application.
SLA applications have to be submitted in person.
I had emailed the consulate about a month in advance to request an appointment date. Once they confirmed, I booked my flights and lodging. In addition, while making my appointment via email, I listed all of the documents I expected to submit and asked the consulate if I was missing anything.
I was told I wasn't missing anything.
My appointment was set for 10:30AM. I took lyft from where I was staying at the Courtyard Marriott Capitol Hill. The Slovak embassy is on a street with a number of other embassies at the end of a cul-de-sac (The Austrian embassy is across the cul-de-sac and the UAE embassy is adjacent to the Austrian embassy).
(Embassy of Slovakia in Washington DC)
As a side note, I also took the opportunity to also visit the Austrian embassy to say hello to an embassy employee who I had been working with on Austrian citizenship for a client of mine, who qualifies as a descendant of a victim of Nazi persecution.
Day of the Appointment!
I buzzed the intercom outside of the gates at 10:28AM and was told to continue waiting as they were helping someone else. Finally, I was buzzed past the gate at about 10:40AM or so, walked across the short courtyard and then was buzzed a second time into the building.
I was taken to a small room and assisted by a lady who I’ll call "S” who helped me through a glass window. I told her my name and why I was there, to which she responded "Yes, I know."
Birth Records & FBI Background Check
My birth certificate, mother's birth certificate and grandmother's birth certificate along with a cultural awareness letter from Slovak American Society of Washington DC (“SASW”) and FBI background check (along with all apostilles and official translations) had already been shipped directly from the sole verified Slovak translator in the United States, Lucia Foltanova.
I could see they were on the desk behind S. I had the remaining outstanding documents in a folder with me (SLA app, two passport photos, additional cultural awareness letter, and five photos of my Slovak great-grandfather, grandmother and myself).
One by one we went through all of the documents as I explained the chain of ancestry from my great-grandfather (born in Hronská Dúbrava in 1881) all the way to me, and we went through all the other documents to make sure everything was present.
I had realized the night before that I forgot the birth certificate of my great-grandfather from Slovakia, so I made a copy of it and brought the copy, while telling S I'll be mailing the original to the DC consulate as soon as I return home. She said that would be fine.
Photos of Slovak Ancestors
Then I went through the photos I brought with me.
I started with my great-grandparents' engagement photo (shown below), to a childhood photo of my grandmother with my great-grandparents, then to a photo of my grandmother as a college student with my grandfather (in Naval uniform during a brief leave to Washington DC during World War II), then photo of me with my grandparents when I was eight years old, then a photo of me with my grandmother when I was about fifteen years old.
I had labeled all of these photos with:
a) the rough date;
c) names of all people in the photos.
This form of labeling photos is a habit I’ve picked up from photos I submit to USCIS for U.S. immigration clients of mine.
These photos are not a requirement for an SLA application but I included them in an effort to “put faces to names.” I asked S if we should forward them to the SLA office and luckily, she responded "definitely."
As an immigration lawyer, I’m a big believer in getting the human element on your side in any sort of citizenship, semi-citizenship or residency application process.
Application & “Cultural Awareness” Letters
The two-page SLA app I had brought was partially incomplete as I was confused on a point about what to write regarding my ancestors on one of the questions. I asked for clarification and S instructed me on which family member names needed to be written in there.
S read my two Slovak cultural awareness letters. One was written using the template the DC consul has on their website and one was written "freestyle” from scratch regarding my Slovak cultural activities in the American-Slovak community. S commented that she's not sure if the "freestyle" one would be acceptable, but that the other letter I brought was more in line with the SLA office requirements.
At one point, as I was explaining the relationships as we went through the photos, S remarked "you are very involved in your Slovak ancestry." I replied "Yep."
S remarked that I was missing an attestation letter stating I'm not involved in activities harmful to Slovakia. I replied that I thought it wasn't necessary anymore. She said it was but that I could submit it via mail with my great-grandfather's original birth certificate. She also asked me to submit a copy of my U.S. passport.
At the end, I asked if she saw anything wrong with the application package or if anything was missing other than the three documents I said I would submit (GGP's birth certificate, attestation, my passport copy). She replied no.
I thanked her and we exchanged goodbyes and she buzzed me out of the embassy through their gate.
Overall, S was quite pleasant, professional and even friendly albeit on the quiet side.
Slovak Language Component
The majority of our exchange was in English except for a few Slovak words and phrases I dropped here and there, mostly the greeting, some of the document names, and a couple other small things.
Each time I said something in Slovak, it was of my own volition. She never asked me to speak Slovak.
The whole process lasted about thirty minutes. Three days later, I mailed off the three outstanding documents to the Slovak embassy.
Costs of the Whole Process
(Picture of a bunch of hundred dollar bills, a.k.a. "Benjamins")
I'll be making another post with a breakdown of all costs involved in making this application once I tally up the totals.
At present, I'd estimate that applying for an SLA certificate has cost around $600 for the birth certificates, apostilles, translations, FBI background check, passport photos, application costs and other miscellaneous expet
This cost does not include my airfare from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. and lodging for the trip.
Video of My Submission
Consult With Malakouti Law
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In our private consultation, we'll answer your questions and do a screening of your case to see how strong your case is for a citizenship by descent, or "semi-citizenship" like the SLA.
We don't sugarcoat things.
At the end of the consultation, if it makes sense to consider hiring us to help you, we’ll tell you exactly what our representation will include, how we’ll work together, and of course a price quote of how much it will cost to take you through the process.
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. Each immigration case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps.