After a pause due to the ongoing pandemic, the Greek Women’s University Club held its first in-person event of the year in March, featuring attorney Sofia Sofou, who spoke on the hot topic of dual citizenship. The sold-out event was capped at just over 40 attendees to respect social distancing measures during this time.
“Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, our club suspended virtually all of its activities, following the successful lecture by Karen Batshaw in February of 2020, GWUC Co-President Harriette Condes Zervakis said. “The club will gradually begin to get back to a vibrant schedule of events,” she said.
The nationality law of Greece states that Hellenic citizenship is acquired by descent or by other officially recognized means. For many in the United States, the process of official Hellenic documents was for a long time seen as an unnecessary hurdle, but in recent years, Sofou said she has seen an increase in interest in dual citizenship. “There is a tremendous increase of applications for Greek citizenship to the Chicago Greek Consulate and to all Greek consulates outside Europe,” Sofou said.
Although Sofou’s legal consulting practice specializes in assisting Greeks living abroad with various legal matters in Greece, from immigration law to business and property law, during the last year, over half of her cases concern Greek dual citizenship, she said.
“The pandemic changed our lives in a negative way … during difficult times, there is a tendency of every individual to return to the ‘arms’ of their family,” Sofou said. “Our family is our roots, our Greek roots.”
Based on the Henley Passport Index, the Greek passport is the 8th most powerful of passports in the world along with U.K., U.S., Belgium, and Norway, Sofou noted. Among the various advantages of possessing a Greek passport are the privilege to travel, live, work, invest, and study in any of 27 members of the EU freely, she explained.
Referencing a New York Times article that noted that “the new American status symbol is a second passport,” and Sofou added that “in a world where safety and the option of a plan B are important, a second passport is the next big thing.”
A graduate of the Athens National and Kapodistrian University and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Sofou is a member of the Athens Bar Association and founder of Sofou Greek Legal Consulting, where she assists members of the diaspora with legal issues involving Greece and the European Union.
During the event, the GWUC also announced its 2021 officers: Co-Presidents – Harriette Condes Zervakis and Dr. Maria Stewart; Vice President, Georgia Nikolopoulos; Treasurer, Joanne Chamis; Corresponding Secretary, Anthe Mitrakos
Recording Secretary, Niki Tsitsis; Historian, Sarah Jouras.
Founded in 1931, The Greek Women's University Club promotes education; encourages the arts, literature, and sciences; and enhances knowledge pertaining to Hellenic history and culture. In addition to cultural events, GWUC hosts a unique, biannual national music competition for Greek youth ages 20-29 and awards scholarships to young women of Greek descent.