Exam Preparation Seminars for the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate: High Pass Rates and High Participation in Activities

Exam Preparation Seminars for the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate: High Pass Rates and High Participation in Side Activities

“After 25 years in Greece, I want to be able to feel like an active citizen, to be able to express my opinion, to have the right to vote.

My work and my life are here”


A year of classes, discussions, visits to archaeological and cultural sites is coming to an end, leaving behind new knowledge, friendships and too many successes in the exams for the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate.

These are happening in the context of the free seminars for preparation for the naturalization exams, an initiative of the City of Athens, which from October 2022 is implemented through a collaboration with the “Bridges” volunteer group and the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The seminars are implemented by the Migrant Integration Center of the City of Athens (KEM) and the Athens Development & Destination Management Agency of the City of Athens (EATA).

The initiative started in 2021 with the contribution of the award-winning writer Soti Triantafillou and continued with the voluntary contribution of the “Theatre of Changes”.

The initiative, from the side of the City of Athens, is also supported by the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues of the City of Athens in regard to communication and promotion.

This effort aims to support people with a migrant and refugee background to effectively prepare for the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate exams, which is a prerequisite for submitting the naturalization application. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop there. Those who wish to participate in parallel activities that enrich the exam material and make the journey of integration more interesting and less lonely.

“We firmly believe in this activity. We want to support our future fellow citizens to delve deeper into the concepts of Greekness and its particularities, democracy, the European acquis, to know the rights and obligations of the Greek citizen, but also to develop knowledge about their application in everyday life. So far, the success of the program is great, the interest is also constantly growing and that is why we seek to develop the methodology of the seminars and spread program as a good practice”, points out Melina Daskalaki, Special Advisor to the Mayor of Athens for Migrants and Refugees.


Students achieve great in exams. In total, more than 160 people have attended the seminars since spring 2021 with 85% of students taking and passing the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate Exams with very high scores. Up to date, about 80% of the students are female.

The preparatory seminars for the exams were complemented this year by a series of activities aimed at promoting active citizenship. A workshop to get familiar with the concepts of  Democracy, the rights and obligations of the citizen and their impact on everyday life, visits to museums and cultural sites and watching theatre plays with the aim of strengthening participation in cultural life, were part of the activities.


“We don’t just do preparation courses. We obtain deeper knowledge and learn through examining concepts,” explains Olga Aseyeva from Ukraine, who scored 98% in the exam. Olga runs her own business and has lived in Greece for 20 years.

Maya from Georgia is excited about the visits to Nafplio, the National Archaeological Museum and the Bathhouse of the Winds as part of the Multaka Athens Project. “I have lived in Greece for 19 years and it was the first time I went to these places. We learned a lot.”

Acquisitions of citizenship: the culmination of the integration process

Success in the naturalization exams brings the participants one step closer to obtaining Greek citizenship and thus to their equal participation in the political and social life of the country, an important demand for them.


“It is very important for our fellow citizens, who have been here for many years from another country, have worked hard, built families, to have access to institutionally supported educational seminars and to have the opportunity to acquire Greek Citizenship and to be considered as equal citizens of our country. This recognition is the regard for all their efforts in their second homeland”, points out Iliada Diamantoni volunteer teacher of Greek as a foreign language for adults in the “Bridges” volunteer group.

The last meeting of the year took place with the participation of the organization Generation 2.0 RED and its legal advisor, Sotiria Chira, who, in collaboration with the special partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for issues of statelessness and access to citizenship, George Kyriakos, provided information to students regarding the next step: the naturalization application. The economic and social criteria were presented with specific examples and the option for further guidance on an individual basis was given.

It is worth noting that the people who have taken part in the courses so far have been living in Greece for an average of two decades.


“After 25 years in Greece, I want to able to feel like an active citizen, to be able to express my opinion, to have the right to vote. My work and my life are here,” says Natalya Tsihoun from Kherson, Ukraine, who successfully passed her citizenship exams three months after war broke out in her homeland.


While Galina from Bulgaria, when asked why she wants to get the citizenship, answers that after so many years you want to prove something. “After all these years I deserve it. My whole family is here.”


What are the Proficiency Exams for Naturalization?

In 2020, the Certificate of Proficiency for Naturalization (PEGP) was instituted. Foreigners, who meet the conditions for obtaining Greek citizenship through the naturalization process, take exams to obtain the certificate. After the successful completion of this process, candidates have the opportunity to submit their naturalization application for consideration.

The written exams, which were first implemented in May 2021 and replaced the oral exam system, are organized twice a year. Candidates are examined on their understanding and production of spoken and written language, as well as elements of Greek history and geography, Greek culture and the country’s political institutions.

Practical information

The last exams for the Naturalization Proficiency Certificate took place in May 2023. Those interested in enrolling in the courses, which start in September and are conducted remotely and online, as well as those who wish to become members of the team of the team of volunteer instructors, they can send an email to [email protected].

Photos & Text: Marina Tomara