Every country decides for itself who it seems to be a citizen. If you are recognized as a citizen in more than one country, we call that dual citizenship and the people dual residents. It is not possible to hold dual citizenship in a number of countries. Countries not allowing dual citizenship is not as common as the countries that do allow it, but it is something to be aware of.
It may be interesting to note that dual citizenship is not something that people always have to strive for. For example, one of the examples would be the American dual citizenship rules. If a child is born in the United States to foreign parents, the child has dual citizenship (there are a few rules about this but generally speaking this is true).
It is also possible to achieve dual citizenship through a specialized legal processes. For example, in countries allowing dual citizenship you could apply for dual citizenship if you (as a foreign national) have been a permanent resident of the country for a specific time and meet some of the eligibility requirement set forth by the country itself.
Another alternative would be to move to one of the countries that allow dual citizenship by marriage. If you were to get married to a legal resident you would eventually be eligible to ask for dual citizenship. The question that you may have is: why would I want to do so?
What are the advantages of dual citizenship?
If you already reside, or plan to reside, in one of the countries that accept dual citizenship, there are a number of advantages to having dual citizenship.
You get the benefits and privileges
If you are a dual citizen, you get the privileges and benefits that each country offers. You may be able to run for office in either country (depending on the law of the country), you may be able to vote in both countries and you have access to two social service systems. You may hold a US dual passport for the privilege of being able to move quickly between the United States, but may have a secondary European citizenship for additional benefits in terms of healthcare etc.
As a dual citizen you are able to work in both countries and will not need a visa or work permit. It is also possible to pay the citizen tuition rate as you attend school in either country.
You have two passports
If you are a dual citizen, you have the option to carry two passports. You could have dual citizenship for US and Canada and thus travel quickly between both countries. You will not be asked questions about the purpose of your trip and you have no more need for long-stay visas. Especially if you want to do business in a country or have family you would like to visit, the guaranteed right of entry to both countries is certainly very appealing as well. Traveling with dual citizenship is exceedingly easier.
If we are talking additional benefits to dual citizenship, it is the fact that you can own property in both countries. Find one of the countries which allow dual citizenship and you may see that some countries restrict the option to buy property to its citizens. If you are someone who frequently travels between both countries the option for property ownership may be beneficial, especially when it offers you a more economical way to live in two places.
While it may not be as important to someone, immersed in the culture of the two countries does offer a number of cultural benefits. You learn about two different countries, ways of life and more. Especially for those who want to have a broad view of the world, this may be particularly interesting.
There are specific jurisdictions that may offer you an advantageous tax legislation that can both benefit you and your business. Optimizing your taxes will allow you to manage your wealth better, whether it means capital gains or double tax treaties, there are ways to have more financial benefits as a dual citizen.
Even though the United States imposes taxes for income earned anywhere in the world, that does not mean that every country is going to do the same. There may already be laws in a specific country to avoid double taxation, which is the case between New Zealand and America for example.
Not always a straightforward process
Depending on the country that you are intending to move towards, dual citizenship can take a number of years. It is important to be aware that while it may be possible in a number of cases, you will not have a second passport within a few months. If that is your goal, there are other options available that you would help you get a second passport much sooner and without much of the same paperwork.
How do you get dual citizenship?
Just as there are a number of different dual citizenship countries, there are also different ways of getting your second citizenship and the corresponding passport. We will discuss each option in a bit more detail so you have an overview of the options available to you.
There are countries that allow non-residents to get citizenship if they can prove that their parents were born in the country. One country that allows dual citizenship based on this is Hungary. Hungarian citizenship is primarily based upon the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood). If your parents were/are citizens, you are able to Hungarian citizenship. This would also automatically make you a citizen of the European Union and subsequently allow to enjoy free travel and residence in any of the countries that are a part of the EU. US dual citizenship with Hungary may be especially appealing if you would like to also benefit from the Schengen Agreement. Dual citizenship Hungary-USA would in fact allow for the best of both worlds in terms of travel.
This is another way to gain residency within a country in order to get citizenship. Usually you have to be living in the country for a number of years as a permanent resident before you can get citizenship that way. For example, before you could apply for dual citizenship in Canada you would have to live in Canada four out of the last six years to be able to apply for citizenship. And on top of that, you would already need to be a permanent resident of Canada. If you were a foreign worker or a student, you’d first have to be a permanent resident before those four years start counting towards your citizenship requirement.
If this is the route that you are interested in, make sure that you understand the legal requirements before you are able to apply for dual citizenship. If you were interested in living in the US as a Canadian or vice-versa, it is imperative that you understand the dual citizenship Canada-USA requirements before you start the legal complex work.
If you marry a citizen of that particular country, it is possible that certain countries offer fast-track permanent resident status. This can often drastically reduce the time to citizenship. One country where you could do this is Canada. Dual citizenship for Canada is possible much faster thanks to spousal sponsorship. The foreign spouse is granted automatic permanent resident status.
There is an increasing number of countries that are offering residency by investment programs or citizenship by investment programs for high net worth investors. This simply means that you are going to invest in the economy of the host country and thus acquire a second citizenship that way. Oftentimes these programs offer permanent residency after making the initial investment, which can drastically reduce the time needed to get citizenship. A few of the fastest options that you can apply for include Antigua and Barbuda (4–5 months), Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada.
Which countries allow dual citizenship?
For the purposes of clarity, it would almost be easier to list a few of the countries that make dual citizenship impossible instead of the countries that allow dual citizenship. A selection of the countries that make it impossible include:
- United Arab Emirates
What are the requirements?
If you have determined that you are eligible for dual citizenship in your country of choice, you now have to make sure that you meet the specific requirements. What are the requirements for dual citizenship in the specific country that you are applying for? And importantly, does your original country where you currently hold a passport have specific guidelines that require you to give up your citizenship if you were to become a citizen of another country?
One such example are the American dual citizenship requirements. There is nothing specific in the US Immigration and Nationality Act that you would not be able to be both a US citizen and a citizen of another country. As long as you meet the US dual citizenship requirements, you are eligible.
The same goes for Canada for example. You do not have to give up your citizenship to become Canadian. Both the Canadian US dual citizenship requirements do not expect you to give up your current citizenship. However, if you were Japanese and over the age of 22, you would not be able to have a US and Japanese passport at the same time. That is because the 1950 Nationality Act forbids dual nationality meaning that you need to resign the foreign passport or the Japanese passport.
How will I know if I am eligible?
There are several different ways that you can find those countries with dual citizenship. Finding the countries that allow dual citizenship won’t be hard, but you may not understand whether you are eligible for the option or not. In that case, it is always good to speak to legal professionals who can determine whether you are able to obtain dual citizenship. It is important to understand that this will always be a complicated process, meaning that the expertise of qualified experts is going to be beneficial regardless of how good your case is at the time.