Which countries have the quickest route to citizenship? That will be the topic of this article, alongside discussing different ways to gain citizenship (by decent, investment etc).
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Definition – Citizenship is the status given by a country to a person living in it. It is mutually beneficial to both the government and the individual.
It is beneficial to the individual as the person acquires some privileges along with the country’s protection, whereas it is beneficial to the government in the form of taxes, allegiance, etc.
Definition – The status of a person acquiring another country’s citizenship along with their current citizenship is known as ‘Dual Citizenship’. It is also known by the terms ‘Dual Nationality’, ‘Second Passport’, etc. A person can be able to get citizenship in another country along with the country that they currently reside in. This depends on the country’s laws, whether they allow Dual Citizenship or not.
Some of the countries that allow dual citizenship are: ‘Albania’, ‘Australia’, ‘Barbados’, ‘Bangladesh’, ‘Belgium’, ‘Bulgaria’, ‘Canada’, ‘Chile’, ‘Costa Rica’, ‘Croatia’, ‘Cyprus’, ‘Czech Republic’, ‘Denmark’, ‘Egypt’, ‘Finland’, ‘France’, ‘Germany’, ‘Greece’, ‘Hungary’, ‘Iceland’, ‘Ireland’, ‘Israel’, ‘Italy’, ‘Jamaica’, ‘Kosovo’, ‘Latvia’, ‘Malta’, ‘Mexico’, ‘Nigeria’, ‘Pakistan’, ‘Panama’, ‘Peru’, ‘Philippines’, ‘Portugal’, ‘Romania’, ‘Serbia’, ‘Slovenia’, ‘South Africa’, ‘South Korea’, ‘Spain’, ‘Sweden’, ‘Switzerland’, ‘Syria’, ‘Turkey’, and ‘UK’.
In the case of the United States, it is a little bit complicated as it does officially recognize the concept of dual citizenship. However, a person might have to voluntarily renounce their citizenship in the United States if they involve in any of the expatriate acts. The seven expatriate laws in the United States are:
- Intentionally willing to acquire a citizenship of another country by losing the current one.
- Owing allegiance to other countries.
- Planning to take up employment in another country by becoming a citizen there or guaranteed with citizenship there or taking an oath of that country’s allegiance.
- Joining the defense of another country either it is a country that is against the United States or not.
- Renouncing citizenship willingly in front of a US diplomat or an officer from the US consulate.
- Renouncing citizenship in a formal manner during the time of war. However, this has to be done involving hand-written documents filled out by the individual and must then approved by the United States Department of Justice.
- Person being involved in crimes such as Treason, Rebellious nature against the US government, illegal activities having the main objective as bringing down the US government, etc.
Restrictions for Dual Citizens:
A person can also acquire more than two citizenships but however, it totally depends on whether the country allows for the multiple nationalities or not, just like in the case of dual nationality. There also can be some specific rules and laws imposed on the individuals by the government, where they are obtaining a second passport from. Some examples of the rules for dual citizens in some countries are:
- Countries such as Egypt restrict the people from running for the parliament elections.
- Voting for the Parliament elections is banned in some countries such as Armenia.
- Specific ministries cannot be given to the dual citizens in countries such as Colombia.
- Local elections cannot be accessed by the dual citizens for them to take part in, for some countries.
- Permission from a powerful people’s representative such as a president, prime minister, etc., is required in some countries.
Each country has a specific set of rules applicable to the dual citizens and it depends on the country selected to obtain a second passport. A person looking to obtain second citizenship should be able to carefully take note of all the restrictions and rules imposed on the dual citizens before making any hasty decisions.
Some people might find this process of research rather time-taking and confusing. Such type of people must take the help of experts in this field (like us). By doing so, they can be able to save a lot of time and effort.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Dual citizenship:
Advantages – Having a second passport means having financial and economical freedom in most cases. It comes with a lot of advantages, let us take a brief look over some advantages of having dual citizenship.
- First of all, we have discussed earlier that having citizenship means having access to all the benefits and privileges offered by a country. Hence, having the citizenship of two countries means having twice the benefits at once.
- Ability to freely travel among the countries where citizenship has been acquired. Highly beneficial for the people who travel between those two countries often.
- Ability to have access to privileges such as ownership of property, when such rights are restricted only for the citizens of that country.
- Optimized taxation, where some countries impose heavy taxes on foreigners when compared to the citizens.
- Having great diversity in culture, becoming a part of both countries’ traditions, diversified language portfolios, etc.
Disadvantages – Where there is a rose, there are thorns as well. Along with the advantages of having dual citizenship, there are some disadvantages as well. Some of the common disadvantages of acquiring a second passport are:
- Like the benefits and privileges imposed on a person are doubled, the rules and laws are also doubled, which the person has to abide by.
- The person might lose their already existing citizenship if any of the laws of the country of current citizenship are broken. For example, if a person, from the US, involves in any sort of military activity in another country, then they would have to renounce their citizenship.
- Unless both the countries have a tax treaty, the person is obliged to double taxation (only if any or both the countries have a tax applicable on the worldwide income of the citizen.)
- In most countries, which offer dual citizenship, the process of obtaining second citizenship can be very tough. It requires a lot of time, money, and effort.
Having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of having dual citizenship, any person can now be able to determine how beneficial it would be for them to have a second passport. Also, these are just some basic info and some countries might have exceptions in either advantages or disadvantages.
General ways to acquire citizenship:
The general ways of acquiring citizenship in most countries are: ‘Citizenship by Birth’, ‘Citizenship by Marriage’, ‘Citizenship by Descent’, ‘Citizenship by Naturalization’, ‘Fast-Track Naturalization’, and ‘Citizenship by Investment’.
Usually, in the beginning, the only ways that a person was able to acquire citizenship was by Birth, Descent, Marriage, and Naturalization. But over the recent years, Fast-Track Naturalization and Citizenship by Investment have come into light as well.
Let us take a brief look over each method before we could get into the fastest method of acquiring citizenship.
Citizenship by Birth – The most commonly seen method of acquiring citizenship is Citizenship by Birth. Any baby born in a specific country will be granted with that country’s citizenship. Citizenship by birth is known to be one of the oldest methods to obtain citizenship, dating back to as long as 1868. It is also known as ‘Birthright Citizenship’ or ‘Jus Soli’ in the United States.
The countries that have citizenship by birth under effect are: ‘Argentina’, ‘Barbados’, ‘Belize’, ‘Brazil’, ‘Canada’, ‘Chile’, ‘Cuba’, ‘Ecuador’, ‘Fiji’, ‘Grenada’, ‘Guatemala’, ‘Guyana’, ‘Honduras’, ‘Jamaica’, ‘Lesotho’, ‘Mexico’, ‘Nicaragua’, ‘Paraguay’, ‘Panama’, ‘Peru’, ‘Saint Lucia’, ‘Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’, ‘Trinidad and Tobago’, ‘Tuvalu’, and ‘Uruguay’.
Some people even try to give birth to their children in another country in order to obtain citizenship in that country. It can be commonly seen in the United States. This process is legal and hence, people try to take advantage of this situation. However, if done to avoid taxation or gaining a visa of that country, this process can be considered illegal.
Citizenship by Descent – If the parents of an individual belong to another nation, a person can be able to acquire the citizenship there easily. The parent should be the citizen of that country during the time of their birth. Some countries have a rule that the person can obtain a passport in that country only if the father of that person is a citizen (For example, India).
Some countries offer citizenship if the grandparents or even great grandparents have been a citizen. The person would have to submit the proof that their ancestor was a citizen of that country and Presto!!! Citizenship could be granted to that person. A few examples for such types of countries are ‘Ireland’, ‘Italy’, ‘Israel’, ‘Poland’, ‘Spain’, ‘Hungary’, etc.
However, because of involving low cost for this procedure, most countries take a lot of time to grant citizenship by descent. The process could involve providing specific documents, sending them to the correct place, waiting for the appointments and approvals, etc.
Citizenship by Naturalization – This is the general way to obtain citizenship if a person is neither born in that country nor has any ancestors or parents. In order to acquire citizenship by naturalization, a person would have to first reside in that country as a Permanent resident for some time.
After completing that time period and acquiring the Permanent resident status, a person can be able to apply for the process of Naturalization in order to become a citizen of that country.
The rules, time-period, etc., type of essential requirements and obligations depend on the country. Different countries might have different time periods to acquire. Some countries have the time period for naturalization as low as 2 years and some can take up to more than 10 years.
Most countries conduct tests during the process of Naturalization. These tests are commonly based on the country’s history, civics, politics, etc., types of topics. Some even language tests (most commonly English) in order to grant citizenship. There won’t be much scope these kinds of tests as they are conducted by the country’s government and the person must definitely pass these kinds of tests in order to gain citizenship.
Countries with the fastest naturalization process are: ‘Uruguay’, ‘Paraguay’, ‘Armenia’, ‘Argentina’, ‘Brazil’, ‘Panama’, ‘Canada’, etc.
Citizenship by Marriage – Marrying a person belonging to a specific country can also make it easy to get citizenship. However, instead of saying marrying for the sake of citizenship, we can say along with the marriage comes a benefit of citizenship.
Usually, the person would have a lesser time of naturalization when compared to applying directly for citizenship.
For example, the permanent residency period required for the individual in the US for the general naturalization process (naturalization through residency) is 5 years, whereas, the person can apply for naturalization just after 3 years after marriage. Even 2 years reduction of time of waiting can make a great difference.
However, there are some rules for people to apply for citizenship after marriage. Some of the ground rules in the United States include:
- The person should be a permanent resident for at least 3 years before applying for citizenship.
- The person should be married to the citizen 3 years in advance before applying.
- Before the permanent residency period, the person should have stayed in the US for at least 18 months continuously over their entire life.
- Good command over English.
- Have to pass the required civic tests.
- Must be an adult.
- Should not leave the United States until citizenship is obtained.
These rules are for the people who want to acquire citizenship in the US and it might differ depending on the country that a person is trying to obtain the second passport from.
Fast-Track Naturalization – Some countries offer citizenship to individuals, whom they think, are beneficial for their country. This can be seen in the case of athletes or expert professionals. If a person is too good at something (whether it may be sports or skills), they can acquire citizenship in a country. Usually, the country generally approaches the individual with the type of offer rather than the individual approaching the country.
It is also known by the name of ‘Citizenship by exception’ and known to have very little to no rules. The decision of whether or not to grant citizenship to a person resides within the country’s powerful individuals such as president or prime minister. Sometimes a person who can invest a lot of money is also granted citizenship in this method.
Middle-Eastern countries grant citizenship with the help of Fast-Track naturalization to people from Africa, who are highly talented in sports. Similarly, countries of Asia grant citizenship in this way to the people who are highly talented in Arts.
Citizenship by Investment – The process of attaining citizenship by investment is also known by the name of ‘Economic Citizenship’. This is the fastest way to obtain citizenship.
In general words, economic citizenship is the type of citizenship where citizenship is granted to a person if he/she makes a considerable amount of investment in that country.
This investment can be in Real Estate, Companies, Developmental Activities, Donations, etc. The time estimated for obtaining citizenship through investment can be somewhere around 6 months.
People who wish to have citizenship by faster means where they can afford to invest some money (usually more money) can be able to opt for this method. Citizenship by Investment is faster than the other traditional citizenship methods.
The programs where the individual can get citizenship by investing in the real estate of that country are known as ‘Golden Visa Programs’. Usually, this can be a beneficial method rather than investing in other options because the person can acquire property along with citizenship. Therefore, if anyone wishes to have a property (such as a house) in the country they are acquiring citizenship, these programs can be highly advantageous.
The countries that offer citizenship by investment are: ‘The UK’, ‘Malta’, ‘Cyprus’, ‘Netherlands’, ‘St Kitts & Nevis’, etc. There are many emerging opportunities for people who wish to have citizenship by investment nowadays.
This method is very useful for people who want a home in another country, do business in another country, travel frequently, etc.
However, a person might also have to take a good look at all the norms related to this in the country that they are trying to get citizenship in.
The fastest method to get a second passport:
Getting to the fastest methods in order to acquire citizenship, why would anybody in the first place want to get their citizenship in another country faster?
Because most people don’t want to waste a lot of time waiting to acquire citizenship. Some might prefer the general process involving low cost and a lot of time, but it is ideal to get citizenship faster (even if it requires some money in the process).
The fastest methods to gain citizenship (from the most-fastest to the fastest) are: ‘Citizenship by Investment’, ‘Citizenship by Descent’, ‘Citizenship by Marriage’, and ‘Fast-Track Naturalization’.
As we have already discussed, the fastest way in order to achieve a second passport is by making an investment in that country’s economy.
By having a significant amount of cash to make an investment, a person can be able to get citizenship a lot faster than usual. Generally, the citizenship by investment programs ranges from $45,000 to $100,000 or even more.
The second Fastest method to attain citizenship is by the descent of an individual. Even when most countries take a little more time, many countries grant citizenship by descent within a time period as low as 6 months. Another major advantage of this is that the cost involved in this process is also very low.
The third fastest method to get citizenship is by marrying a foreign individual.
Like we have mentioned before itself, the time taken for naturalization after marriage with a foreign individual is low when compared to that of the general naturalization process. Some countries might even offer instant citizenship upon marrying a foreign individual.
However, the thing is that marrying only in order to obtain a visa would be considered as a fraudulent practice and has legal consequences.
Fast-Track Naturalization or Special Treatment, as we said only applies to some special cases involving special talent or significant investment (enough to make a difference in the country’s economy or at least a small part of it). Countries that have this method in practice are Qatar, Albania, Singapore, etc.
Countries having faster citizenship process:
When it comes to attaining citizenship, most people choose to obtain citizenship through residency.
This is because people don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on this process or they don’t have any ancestral history with the country. Let us take a look at the countries that grant citizenship faster when compared to others (through residency or not).
Armenia – Armenia grants citizenship with time for the naturalization process as low as 3 years.
However, in order to acquire the residence permit, a person would have to make an investment over there. The real estate opportunities for making an investment in Armenia are quite lucrative. Residency can also be obtained if the person is studying in an Armenian University.
After acquiring the residence permit and spending 3 years over there, a person can be able to apply for citizenship.
Before qualifying for citizenship, the individual would have to pass a test conducted by them on the Armenian Constitution. This test is conducted in the Armenian language, anyhow, the individual can take a translator along with them to attend the test.
Citizenship by descent is also known to be quite effective in Armenia.
Macedonia – Macedonian citizenship grants benefits of a European residency as well as the ability to travel anywhere in the Europe Schengen area without the requirement of a visa.
With the tax rates being 10% imposed on both people and companies, Macedonia is known to be a good and effective business-friendly country.
The citizenship by investment program in Macedonia requires 400,000 euros into a company (either creating a new one or investing in an existing one) and creating jobs for at least 10 native citizens.
By doing so, citizenship can be acquired within a short time span of one year or sometimes even less.
Unlike it used to do in the beginning, Macedonia no longer requires an individual to stay in the country for 6 months in order to obtain citizenship.
Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic is known to offer citizenship for a donation of a significant amount of money. The time generally taken to obtain citizenship in the Dominican Republic is 2 years. With the help of the passport from the Dominican Republic, people are granted access to some other good countries as well.
The process of naturalization can be expedited by making an investment of $200,000 in a real estate property or business based in the country.
This money required for the investment can be waived off if the person is able to provide proof of a reliable and steady source of income and have the time necessary. In many cases, most people would have wait even longer to get the passport after qualifying for it.
Peru – After spending two years as a resident in Peru, anyone can be able to apply for citizenship. In order to attain the residence permit in Peru, a person would have to make an investment of $150,000 (even it is mentioned as $30,000, according to the law).
In the beginning, this process was very easy and residence permit was usually granted to people who were pursuing education, creating a business, provided proof of $1000 per month in any investment, etc., but, things have become much harder now.
Peru imposes very strict rules on the employees for the businesses that have been created and it also has strict physical residence requirements as well (required time needed to stay continuously). It also conducts a test on Peruvian history and the applicants would have to attend the test in the Spanish language.
Even it is a little bit harder, the timeline of two years (which is a very low time when compared to most other countries) is the primary reason that Peru makes our list.
Paraguay – Paraguay is a very good country to have a second passport. It offers visa-free travel all over Europe and South America. The process of attaining citizenship in Paraguay is also very easy.
Even though it is said that Paraguay takes 3 years for the process of naturalization, sometimes, this process can take more time.
Uruguay – Similar to Paraguay, Uruguay is also known to have a 3 year time period for the process of naturalization. However, there is an exception to this case.
If a person is substantially tied to the country in any form, then the person can get citizenship in 3 years. If a single person along with a family would have to wait for 5 years (where the person is the only one who works).
Tied with the country substantially means involving in activities such as owning real property, renting an apartment, being a member of a club, having a personal doctor, etc.
Apart from having the fastest time for naturalization, there are no major benefits of having Uruguayan citizenship. It can be good for people who intentionally want to become a citizen over there.
Russia – People who have the intention of creating a new business or relocate their business into Russia can be able to get citizenship within 3 years. The taxation, however, being 13% – 19% is a considerably high amount of tax when compared to many other countries. However, having a 3-year timespan, makes Russia a successful contender in our list.
Getting citizenship from another country could huge time taking process unless you are born there, have that country’s lineage, or could make a significant amount of investment.
Apart from that, you would also have to be cautious about many emerging second passport scams as that could cost you a lot of money.
Getting familiar with all the details related to the process of obtaining citizenship can be sometimes very confusing for most people.
Whether you are a busy individual who doesn’t have enough time to research these details or you are not comfortable with all the professional terminology related to this, the best and ideal option for you is to take the advice of a professional (like us) and take decisions based on the options that are advantageous to you.
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