Secret agents aren’t the only ones with multiple passports.
If you’ve been living in another country for some time, or have only been there for a short period but think you’ll be there for a while, you may consider applying for dual citizenship.
There are many benefits of having dual citizenship, anything from land ownership or business rights to relaxed entry regulations and no longer worrying about lengthy and confusing paperwork for residency visas.
But before you jump at the opportunity to truly become a citizen of the world, there are a few important facts you need to understand about the process.
How Difficult is it to Obtain Dual Citizenship
Many expatriates wonder if it’s even possible to obtain dual citizenship and how difficult the process may be.
It all depends on the country. Some are easier to be granted citizenship, while others have strict requirements and restrictions.
For instance, if you wish to naturalize to Austria, you must to go through a long checklist to determine your eligibility. Among the requirements, you need to have 10 years of continuous residency within the country, including five years with a residence permit. Plus, all applicants for citizenship must pass a German language test and provide proof of income, among other prerequisites.
Fortunately, not all nations are as difficult from which to obtain dual citizenship. Here are four methods you can try to establish residency.
1. Obtain Dual Citizenship Through Birthright
This might be the easiest claim to dual citizenship.
If you were born in one country, but then moved away and obtained citizenship in another nation, you may be able to claim unconditional jus soli – or right of soil. There are only about 30 countries in the world that still use this method as a basis for citizenship, so you’ll need to do your research to determine if you qualify.
2. Obtain Dual Citizenship Through Parents or Marriage
While a few dozen of the world’s countries provide citizenship through jus soli, a larger portion practice jus sanguinis – or right of blood. This principle allows you to make a claim for citizenship based on the nationality of your parents or grandparents.
However, even if a country uses jus sanguinis as a basis for dual citizenship, each nation may have different restrictions about how far back in your lineage you can go to prove your birthright.
Another family link to citizenship is through marriage. Generally, if you are living in a foreign country and you marry a citizen of that nation, you qualify for resident permit – which is usually the first step in eventually receiving dual citizenship.
Just like through jus soli and jus sanguinis, every country treats your nuptials differently, so do your research (and avoid sham marriages).
3. Obtain Dual Citizenship Through Employment
A large number of countries will allow employment visas, granting foreigners access to work. These visas may eventually lead to residency permits and eventually dual citizenship opportunities.
In some instances, employers may even pay for some of the citizenship process. That’s a benefit you’d need to ask your boss about before assuming it will apply to you.
Just like any method of obtaining dual citizenship, every country has different rules, so do your research.
4. Buy Your Dual Citizenship
It may sound silly, but if you have the financial means to do so, you can basically buy your residency by participating in a citizen by investment program.
In this program, you would invest a minimum amount (depending on the country it could be anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars) into the country’s economy, and you would be granted citizenship.
Consider the Effects of Dual Citizenship
If you discover that you qualify for dual citizenship, consider both the positive and negative effects of an additional legal residency.
Yes, you will be able to use multiple passwords, which might come in handy when clearing customs. And you will have the right to vote in all of the democratic countries where you are a citizen, regardless of your current location. For instance, if you wanted to vote while abroad in a U.S. election, you would simply request an absentee ballot.
On the other hand, dual citizenship may also mean that you’re required to pay annual taxes in both of your home nations, even if you haven’t physically worked or lived in one of them.
And possibly the biggest downfall, some countries will not allow you to claim dual citizenship. This means you will be forced to renounce your U.S. citizenship and the citizenship of any other nations you may have obtained.