How can you obtain dual citizenship? This is the topic of this article.
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Table of Contents
Introduction – Obtaining a second passport means having dual citizenship. Dual citizenship can also be referred to in different terms such as ‘Second Passport’, ‘Dual Nationality’, etc.
Usually, citizenship means the status of a person, which grants several privileges such as protection by that country’s government, right to vote, right to live there, right to work there, etc., and the person having this status is referred to as a citizen of that respective country.
A person can be able to acquire more than two nationalities and this would generally be recognized as ‘Multiple Nationality’, ‘Multiple Citizenship’, etc. Dual Nationality can also be sometimes referred to as Multiple nationality.
In general words, citizenship is a mutual relationship where a country gives a person some benefits and rights.
In return, the person is expected to pay taxes and follow the specific set of rules and regulations set by that government.
Dual citizenship is the status where the person is considered to be a citizen of another country along with the country of their origin.
The person who obtains citizenship in another country (dual citizenship) gets the privileges in that country as well.
In the beginning, there were no passports and no requirement for people to carry any form of identity when they wanted/had to cross the borders of their country. But now, the situation is different. Anyone who travels out of their country is required to have a passport.
Passport has now become an identity for the citizens provided by the government. Wherever a citizen goes beyond their country of residence, a passport is a most important document of proof to carry with. In which case, two passports can come with greater benefits.
Most frequently, the people who opt to obtain a second passport/dual citizenship are the people having a higher net worth. Having dual citizenship means having economical freedom.
In certain cases, people who don’t want to be owned by the government of a single country also want to have a second citizenship. There is even a possibility for these types of people to have multiple citizenship as well, but it depends on their choice.
However, the second passports are not only for the uber-rich people and if anyone thinks so, it will be just a misconception. The truth is anyone who wants to have citizenship with another country can be able to do so.
Anyhow, the country where the person wants to have citizenship is among the countries that offer dual citizenship.
In some cases, there might also certain situations such as the country of that person’s origin strictly follows the rules of single citizenship.
If a person is from such a country, then they would have to renounce their citizenship of that country first and gain citizenship from another country.
There is a list of countries that allow dual citizenship. This means the people from these countries might be able to have dual citizenship among the other countries that are provided here. The list of countries that allow dual citizenship is as follows:
‘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’.
The United States has a somewhat different type of approach when it comes to dual citizenship.
It does not recognize the concept of dual citizenship formally. The general information states that any American citizen won’t lose their citizenship even after they start the process of naturalization in that country.
However, they might lose the citizenship they are known to be involved in the expatriating acts. The person who seeks the US passport might be required to declare their other allegiances during the time of applying.
Any person who has acquired second citizenship would usually obtain the rights generally given to the citizens.
This usually happens in each and every country that the person has citizenship in. Some rights that are given to the citizens are right to reside in that country, right to work, right to vote, right to a passport, etc.,
Anyhow, there might be some restrictions/obligations in certain cases such as the requirement of national service, imposed with taxes on the people’s worldwide income, etc.
Like we have observed in the list, there are some countries that do not permit dual citizenship.
Countries without having dual citizenship availability might have two different types of conditions.
The first one being requiring the citizen to relinquish their existing citizenship and the other one is where the person voluntarily would have to give up their citizenship while they are applying for another country’s citizenship.
Countries that don’t allow dual citizenship:
Some countries might have the requirement of serving with the country’s armed forces in order to acquire citizenship, whereas, some countries strictly prohibit dual citizens from serving in their nation’s army.
Most of the countries try to avoid the creation of multiple citizenships. In order to do so, they cancel their citizenship to a person when he or she acquires citizenship with another country.
The countries that take away the citizenship of a person automatically when they voluntarily try to acquire a citizenship of another country are: ‘Austria’, ‘Azerbaijan’, ‘Bahrain’, ‘China’, ‘India’, ‘Indonesia’, ‘Japan’, ‘Kazakhstan’, ‘Malaysia’, ‘Nepal’, ‘the Netherlands’, and ‘Singapore’.
Saudi Arabia cancels the citizenship of an individual if they acquire another citizenship without the permission of the country’s prime minister.
In China, there is an exception for Hong Kong and Macau, which allow multiple nationalities by removing the country’s protection to that respective person.
There is a possibility of losing citizenship in the countries of South Africa and Brazil. However, citizenship may or may not be taken away and not automatically taken away like the countries that we have discussed earlier.
Japan and Montenegro also have a possibility of taking away the citizenship, if the person who has acquired citizenship from another country would not renounce their citizenship within a certain period of time after acquiring it.
Some countries might cancel the citizenship of a child if the child (parents) opt to have another country’s nationality.
The concept of dual citizenship was not introduced until the 19th century.
Till then countries used to decide whom they would give citizenship and they didn’t consider people of any other nationality as their own citizens. However, people could hold multiple citizenship without the countries knowing and wouldn’t even have had to renounce their citizenship.
After continuous efforts done by many people, the ‘dual citizenship/multiple citizenship’ concept was brought under light by the end of the 20th century, and by that time many countries started to accept the concept of dual nationality.
Most countries decided to lift off the restrictions made to the dual citizenship rules and started to have a positive approach towards this issue. Some notable examples of this are given below.
The restrictions in the ‘British Nationality Act, 1948’ were removed for dual citizenship in the United Kingdom.
In the year 1967, the supreme court of the United States prohibited its government from forcefully taking away the citizenship of the people who opted to have dual citizenship. The restrictions on dual citizenship in Canada were removed by the ‘Canadian Citizenship Act, 1976’.
Pros and cons of having Dual Citizenship:
There are a few advantages of having Dual Citizenship. The first among those benefits is having the privileges offered in more than one country.
Yes, the person is offered privileges from both the countries where they possess citizenship.
They can be able to live in either of the countries and obtain two passports, have a right to vote in those countries, some countries may even allow the individual to enter politics in that nation, have access to work in both countries (with the help of a work permit in some cases), can have education in whichever country an individual decides among those where that person possesses citizenship, etc.
Being a dual citizen, a person gets access to two passports from both the countries where they have citizenship. The person can carry both the nation’s passports with them.
The person can freely be able to travel to the countries back and forth where they have obtained citizenship.
There wouldn’t be a requirement for any type of visas in order to stay for a considerable amount of time since they have a citizen’s passport. Dual citizenship also offers the right to entry for a person.
This can be highly beneficial in the case of individuals who are students, businessmen, or need to visit their family in another country more frequently.
Some countries usually restrict the ownership of the property to the citizens only.
The people with dual citizenship can be able to benefit from this situation and can own a property in either of the countries or both countries. People who travel frequently can have a stable residency by owning a property in both countries with the help of their dual citizenship.
Cultural diversity is another privilege that can be enjoyed by dual citizens. They can be able to have a cultural interaction with both countries.
Most countries, which offer dual citizenship, have a primary objective of promoting their culture. People, therefore, can be able to participate in two different traditions, having the availability of two languages and become a part of two nations’ cultural history.
In cases where the taxes are low for the citizens, the dual citizens might as well have the tax benefits too.
Optimizing taxes in this way might make the individual financially stable and earn more profits from their respective assets. Some countries have low taxes, whereas some do not impose taxes at all on their citizens.
Having citizenship in another country would also be helpful if a person wants to have a safe side option to leave their home country in case things go wrong.
By things going wrong, we can refer to situations such as war, financial crisis, being dissatisfied with their country’s government or political parties/leaders.
The major thing that needs to be taken into consideration while discussing the disadvantages of having dual citizenship is that the person has to abide by the laws set forth by both the countries’ governments.
People might be wondering why this might be a major disadvantage, let us take a look at an example for that.
If a person of US origin wishes to have citizenship in a country where the person is required to participate in the military in order to acquire citizenship, the person might lose their US citizenship.
This is because taking part in the army of another country is considered as an expatriate act in the US and the individuals will be relinquished of their US citizenship.
Not all situations root for the individual to lose their citizenship in the US if they participate in any military program of another nation, yet there is a major chance of losing their citizenship.
People would have to know and clarify the consequences before doing so.
Another major disadvantage is taxation. Usually, the citizens are offered lower tax rates when compared to foreigners and it is an advantage with having dual citizenship.
However, there is also a chance of having double taxation. which means, the person gets taxed on their income from another country (which is considered as worldwide income) and would be taxed in the country of current residence as well.
A perfect example of this situation is again the United States. The United States taxes individuals on their worldwide income, where at the source country the taxes have already been paid off. \
However, to avoid such a situation many countries have a tax treaty with the United States. With the help of the tax treaties, the individual having dual citizenship in the country having a treaty and the US can be able to avoid double taxation. Anyhow, individuals are required to file US tax returns.
The process of acquiring dual citizenship is very complex and requires a lot of time and money in most countries.
If a person is born in a country when the person’s parents have the origin of another country, this process can be easy. If that’s not the case, then the person should get ready to go through a time-consuming process.
For example, people who want to have the citizenship of the United States would have to stay there as a permanent resident for 5 years
. After becoming a permanent resident successfully, they would have to apply for citizenship and then undergo the process of naturalization.
Usually, the cost applicable for the process of permanent residency is $1225 and the cost for applying for citizenship is $725. This might not be a high price for obtaining a second passport for some people, but some people might find it to be a little pricey.
There are six ways that a person can be able to obtain dual citizenship. They are:
- Citizenship by birth
- Citizenship by Marriage
- Citizenship by Naturalization
- Citizenship by Investment
- Fast-Track Naturalization
- Citizenship by descent
In the beginning, the general ways to obtain citizenship in another country were only by birth, marriage, and naturalization. With the passing of time citizenship by descent, citizenship by investment and fast-track naturalization have also been added to this list. Let us take a brief look at all these methods.
Citizenship by Birth:
This is considered to be the common method of obtaining citizenship. Any child would be granted citizenship in a country if they have been born in that country. Also known as ‘Birthright citizenship’ and ‘Jus Soli’, the United States is known to have citizenship by birth in effect since 1868.
The countries that grant citizenship by birth 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.
Even though it is hard to believe, many people go to certain countries as tourists and try to give birth to their children in that country in order to acquire citizenship.
Though it might sound illegal, it is absolutely legal to do so. At least, as far as we know, it is legal in the United States. It might be considered as a fraudulent practice if this is done with and intention of avoiding taxes or obtaining a visa.
Citizenship by Marriage:
People who are single also have a scope of attaining citizenship, if they are ready to get married. By this, we don’t mean marriage for the sake of attaining citizenship as the main objective, because that would be immoral.
Just think of it as there might also be an advantage of obtaining citizenship as a side benefit along with the main advantage of having a partner for life.
There is fast-track naturalization in some countries which speeds up the procedure of obtaining citizenship.
Examples for the countries that provide fast-track naturalization are France, the United States, etc. Not only this, some countries, for instance, take Cape Verde, where marrying a citizen will provide instant citizenship.
However, there can be some eligibility criteria in order to apply for citizenship by marriage and each country has a different set of rules. For example, In the United States, the criteria is as follows:
- The applicant must be an adult (having more than or equal to 18 years of age).
- The person should be a permanent resident for at least 3 years before the date when they apply for citizenship. Usually, any normal person applying for citizenship should be a permanent resident for at least 5 years (even the reduction of 2 years wait can be considered as a good advantage).
- The person should be married to the citizen of the United States for at least 3 years in advance by the time of application.
- Should not leave the United States until citizenship is obtained.
- Should have spent 18 months continuously in the US before the 3 years of time span before applying.
- Good knowledge in the English language and the necessity of passing a test based on the topics of United States history and government.
- Moral and good behavior along with support towards the US.
In the case of people who haven’t been a permanent resident of the US by the time of marriage, they have to file for green card marriage and go through the 3-year period of residency there. Only after then, they can be able to apply for citizenship. The criteria might differ in each country and therefore, it advised to get familiar with all the details before itself.
Citizenship by Naturalization:
Any person can apply for citizenship once they reside in a specific country for a required amount of time. This process is known as Naturalization. The rules for naturalization might vary depending on the country. The criteria is almost the same as the eligibility criteria mentioned earlier in the case of citizenship by marriage.
The time required in the process of naturalization also varies for each country. A few examples of the time taken for the naturalization in different countries is given below.
- Argentina – 2 years
- Armenia – 3 years
- Brazil – 4 years
- Afghanistan – 5 years
- Guyana – 6 years
The lowest time can be around 2 years and the highest time can be up to more than 10 years. However, as mentioned before, it depends on the country. Some countries require people to stay continuously in that country, whereas some require the person to visit the country for a few days in a year.
Some countries require knowledge tests as well and we have seen the United States as an example for that earlier. The countries that have the fastest naturalization processes are: ‘Uruguay’, ‘Paraguay’, ‘Armenia’, ‘Argentina’, ‘Brazil’, ‘Panama’, ‘Canada’, etc.
Citizenship by Investment:
Also commonly referred to as ‘Economic Citizenship’, Citizenship by Investment is known to be the easiest way (and fastest way in some cases) to obtain a second passport.
In general words, Citizenship by Investment is the process through which a person is granted citizenship when they make an investment in the country’s companies, development programs, real estate, etc.
This process can generally take up to 6 months. Sometimes people often get scammed into losing their money where the scammers promise to offer passport of that country through this process within 60 days.
Unlike the methods mentioned before, there is no mandatory requirement of residency in order to obtain citizenship. People who want to have citizenship faster and hassle-free can opt for citizenship by investment. People who don’t want to spend such an amount of money would have to wait and go through the general time-consuming process.
The countries that offer economic citizenship are: ‘Malta’, ‘Vanuatu’, ‘Montenegro’, ‘Cyprus’, ‘Moldova’, ‘Turkey’, ‘Jordan’, ‘Kitts and Nevis’, ‘Dominica’, ‘Grenada’, ‘Austria’, etc.
Nowadays, there are many attractive investment opportunities for individuals in order to obtain citizenship. By making an investment in such countries, based on the norms set forth for acquiring citizenship, economic citizenship can be one of the most attractive ways to obtain a second passport.
The process of Fast-Track Naturalization is also known as citizenship by exception. There are absolutely no rules and regulations for the individuals to acquire citizenship by Fast-Track Naturalization.
The decision is usually taken by the politically powerful individuals such as President, Prime Minister, etc.
In order to state an example of this kind of situation, let us have a look at Middle Eastern countries.
People from the Middle Eastern countries usually offer citizenship to the people from other countries and use them to compete in international events on behalf of them (for example, the Olympics). This usually takes place in Qatar. Citizenship of Qatar is offered to African individuals to participate on behalf of them.
Asian countries offer citizenship to people who are extremely skilled in Arts with the help of Fast-Track Naturalization.
People who are willing to make an investment (involving a huge amount of money) are also offered citizenship with the help of Fast-Track naturalization.
Citizenship by Descent:
People who born outside a country and one of their parents is a citizen of that country, then they can be able to obtain citizenship in that country.
People having their ancestors belonging to a specific country can also obtain citizenship there. People sometimes, gain multiple citizenship with the help of this method. People who have a parent who is a citizen of that country and were born outside that country can also obtain a second passport in that country.
The are many countries that offer citizenship by Descent, some examples are ‘Canada’, ‘New Zealand’, ‘Lithuania’, ‘UK’, ‘Mexico’, ‘Poland’, ‘Ireland’, ‘Brazil’, ‘Hungary’, ‘Spain’, etc.
Some countries need to offer citizenship only if the father of the person is the citizen of that country. an example of this case is India.
Laws for dual citizens:
Each country that offers dual citizenship has specific laws for dual citizens. Ultimately, it depends on the respective country. Let us have a brief look over some restrictions and laws that are applicable to the dual citizens in some countries.
- Egypt restricts dual citizens from being elected in the parliament.
- Armenia not only restricts people from being elected in the parliament, but they are also denied the voting for the parliament as well.
- Colombia restricts the dual citizens from becoming the minister of foreign affairs and mister of defense.
- Philippines restricts the people from involving in any local elective office.
- Citizens of Germany, South Africa, and Austria would have to seek permission in order to keep their citizenship while applying for a second passport.
These are just examples of the restrictions provided and there might be even more restrictions and laws imposed upon the individuals in these countries. Each country has a specific set of rules.
Having said that, people should also watch out for the scam and scammers that take people’s money saying they would fetch them a second passport.
Some of the second passport scams are: ‘Diplomatic Passports’, ‘economic citizenship programs that are canceled, ‘Camouflage passports’, ‘Gray market passports’, ‘Black market passports’, ‘Banking passports’, etc.
If someone offers to fetch you a second passport that is very cheap, easy to obtain, and has a faster process, then you would have to make sure by having some thorough research on that.
The process that used to be hassle-free has now become somewhat harder and a time-consuming process. Some countries have increased the time for naturalization, made amendments in taxation, increased the limit for citizenship by investment programs, etc.
Hence, it is a complex process and cannot be achieved by an individual on their own.
Therefore, it is better to seek help from a professional (like us) before trying to obtain a second passport and get familiar with all the details that are related to it.