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Dual Citizenship – All You Need To Know About Dual Nationality

April 24, 2017 – What is dual citizenship? When a person is considered a citizen of two countries, they are said to have dual citizenship.

This can be achieved in several ways, through birth, marriage, naturalisation, and increasingly by investment immigration. There is no set rule on how to get dual citizenship.

The rights of a holder of dual nationality depends on the laws of the host country. Many have restrictions on who can run for public office.

Some countries do not allow dual citizenship, meaning anyone granted citizenship of a second country automatically loses their original citizenship.

How to apply for dual citizenship depends on the country in question. In most cases, a country will require a period of permanent residence first, including proof of taxes paid and physical presence over a stated period. These citizenship requirements can vary depending on the country in question.

What is Citizenship?

The definition of citizenship is simply ‘the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country’.

Therefore, if a country’s rules allow, citizenship of several countries can be granted. Triple citizenship or multiple citizenship is becoming more popular. The answer to the question ‘how many citizenships can you have’, or ‘how many passports can you have’ really depends on the rules of the individual countries.

There is no such concept as a dual passport. When a person has a second citizenship, they are generally eligible to apply and hold a passport from both countries. A person with two or more passports is called a multiple passport holder.

Benefits of Dual Citizenship

The motivations behind getting a second citizenship or second residency have change over the years, but some benefits remain constant.

Different passports allow visa-free access to different countries, meaning travel is a central part of getting dual nationality.

Business people from countries without travel freedom may look for a second passport to facilitate that travel.

Dual citizenship, or residence, with a European Union country effectively allows EU citizenship, as the bloc of 28 countries allows free movement.

Traditionally, a second citizenship has also been used by high net worth people for tax purposes. Different countries have different tax rates, and will often offer incentives for immigrants to move their money when they acquire residency or citizenship.

In the modern day, a second citizenship is considered more as a pathway to a better life. Generally, the flow of people acquiring dual citizenship is from less developed to more developed countries.

Qualifying for Dual Citizenship

Dual Citizenship – All You Need To Know About Dual Nationality

Some people are born with double citizenship, because their parents each have a different nationality. Although the right may be automatic, they would still have to present citizenship documents when filing for citizenship. This would include proving the citizenship of the relevant parent.

In Germany, being born with dual nationality is the only guaranteed way to get dual citizenship. Otherwise, without special permission, German law does not allow German dual citizenship. Germany is one of several countries that don’t allow dual citizenship.

Many countries have pathways to citizenship through immigration programs. In Canada, permanent residence is granted through a number of different immigration programs. Citizenship becomes an option after a period of not less than three years later provided certain conditions are met.  Immigration to Canada is central to its population and economic growth.

Marrying for citizenship is not accepted by the majority of countries. Marriage no longer automatically means you will be granted citizenship of your spouse’s country.  In most countries, you will need to go through an application process. In Canada, you still need to spend at least 3 years as a permanent resident before being able to apply for Canadian citizenship.  Once received the holder could have dual citizenship.

There is no set way of applying for dual citizenship. Different countries have their own application processes, so it is important to do research.

Popular Countries For Dual Citizenship

Does the US allow dual citizenship? This is a tricky legal area. Under the oath of allegiance, new US citizens are required to renounce other citizenships. But several countries have stated the oath has no bearing on their citizenship laws.

The US remains at the top of many lists of dual citizenship countries.

Getting US citizenship is sought-after all over the world, not just by those in less developed countries who are wooed by the ‘American dream’.

American citizenship is already difficult to come by. However, whether the attempted Donald Trump immigration ban is successful or not, getting US dual citizenship is likely to get harder.

Dual Citizenship in USA

Previously, US authorities used to pursue cases of naturalized citizens who had not renounced their previous citizenships.

If a US citizen automatically acquires a second citizenship, they can remain a US citizen. But if they apply for a second citizenship, the US requires them to renounce their US citizenship.

The US also has a different tax regime, based on status rather than residency. Simply put, it means US citizens pay taxes to the US no matter where they live. This has resulted in many giving up USA citizenship.

It means there is no one answer to the question ‘can you have dual citizenship in the US?’ American dual citizenship is a complicated area so the advice is to do your homework.

US citizenship requirements stem from first becoming a permanent resident (or getting a ‘US green card’).

The US citizenship process requires permanent resident status for five years and physical presence for at least 30 months. There are also English language requirements and a need to have a knowledge of US history.

The rules also state you need to be a person of good moral character, which is open to interpretation.

If you want to know how to get US citizenship, the first step is to get that green card. The pathway to American nationality starts there.

US Citizenship Cost

American citizenship application cost depends on the route you are taking, but the current fee for an Application for Naturalization is $640, while the fee for an application for Certification of Citizenship is $1,170. The cost of US citizenship can therefore mount up and is worth considering as one of many American citizenship requirements.

Canadian citizenship rules allow for dual citizenship. The rules do not make you choose between Canada and your home country.

The question ‘how to get dual citizenship in Canada’ is therefore the same as simply getting Canadian citizenship.

First, a foreign national requires Canadian permanent residence.

Current rules state that a permanent residence must be physically present in Canada for 1,460 days in the six years before your application date. You must also have been physically present for 183 days in the four years before your Canada citizenship application date. This is set to be reduced under the current federal government.

There are also requirements on age, income tax filing, language skills and how well you know Canada.

Cost of Canadian Citizenship

The application fee for Canadian citizenship is $530, plus an additional ‘right of citizenship’ fee of $100. The fee has risen steeply from just $100 in 2015.


Read More

The Benefits of Canadian Citizenship


British dual citizenship is allowed under UK law, meaning you can hold UK citizenship (or British citizenship) as well as citizenship from another country.

The British government advises you to check with the other country to see if it also allows dual nationality.

UK rules state that you cannot get diplomatic help as a British dual citizen when you are in the country of your other citizenship.

General rules that apply for British citizenship are that you have lived in the UK for five years before the date of your application. You must have spent not more than 450 days outside the UK in those five years, and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months.

You also must be of good character, and met knowledge of English and life in UK requirements. There is no such thing as English citizenship.

Cost of UK Citizenship

The application fee for naturalization as a British citizen is £1,282. As a side note, the UK charges £321 to renounce British citizenship.

Citizenship By Investment Programs

Several countries run citizenship-by-investment programs attracting high net worth individuals.

These have been a key driver of the economies of those countries that run programs.

The main ones are outlined below:

1) Antigua and Barbuda

Through Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship, an applicant can obtain citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda without having to fulfill complicated residency requirements.

Benefits of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship include:

  1. Visa-free travel to EU countries that are members of the Schengen Area
  2. Citizenship for family members without any additional investment requirements.
  3. A second passport at your disposal for ease of travel.
  4. Free movement through the Caribbean CARICOM countries.

Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship: Investment Requirements

National Development Fund One-time investment of US $200,000.
Real Estate US $400,000 in real estate property in Antigua and Barbuda. In case of joint investment, each applicant must contribute a minimum amount of $400,000. The real estate must be held for a period of at least five years.
Business $1,500,000 in an approved business. In case of a joint investment application, the total investment must be for a sum of not less than $5 million with each applicant contributing at least $400,000.

2) Austria

Around 13.5 per cent of Austria’s population is foreign citizens and around 20 per cent of its population has a migration background.

Therefore, Austria is an immigrant-friendly nation that provides immigrants with the option of obtaining Austrian citizenship without onerous residence requirements.

Benefits of Becoming An Austrian Citizen

  • Access to a stable economic and political environment offering a high standard of living.
  • Easy entry into EU nations for individuals possessing the Austrian passport.
  • A moderate climate, a wide range of leisure activities, and quality educational facilities make it an ideal destination for residing with one’s family.
  • Access to high-end health and social service facilities and amenities in the country

Requirements Of Austrian Citizenship

Applicant must fulfill these two conditions:

  1. Those who have performed extraordinary past or prospective achievements, and
  2. Grant of citizenship is in the interest of the Republic of Austria.

Applicant seeking citizenship for extraordinary achievements are exempt from the following requirements:

  1. Ten years of uninterrupted legal residence
  2. Proof of German language skills
  3. Knowledge of the democratic system and history of Austria and Vienna
  4. Sufficient means of subsistence
  5. Renunciation of current citizenship

3) Cyprus

Wealthy investors seeking citizenship within the European Union can apply for Cypriot investor citizenship.

Cyprus is a well-connected and centrally located country in the European Union.

Cyprus also offers one of the most flexible investment immigration programs in the world as investors can choose to become permanent residents or citizens depending on their investment preferences.

Benefits of Cyprus Citizenship

  • The investor and his/her family become citizens of Cyprus and the European Union.
  • The Cypriot passport allows for visa-free travel throughout the European Union and more than 140 nations including the most developed countries in the world.
  • Investors can seek long-term residence in other European Union member countries without onerous residence requirements.
  • Access to a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle with quality healthcare and educational facilities.
  • Ability to retain dual citizenship and passport of second country along with Cypriot citizenship.

Investment Requirements for the Scheme for Naturalization of non-Cypriot Investors by Exception

Purchase of financial assets issued by Cypriot companies €2m
Investment in real estate, land development, or infrastructure projects €2m
Purchase, creation, or participation in Cypriot businesses or companies €2m
Combination of the three investment options (may include purchase of special government bonds worth €500,000) €2m
Famous for its natural beauty and splendour, Dominica is often described as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. The Dominica citizenship program is one of the cheapest around.

Dominican Citizenship Benefits

  • Full citizenship on the basis of a substantial investment.
  • No prior residence requirements.
  • The ability to hold a second passport for convenient travel to other countries.
  • Visa-free access to numerous countries including The United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries along with ease of travel to Hong Kong, South Korea, and China,
  • Liberalized tax regime.
  • No requirement to renounce existing citizenship.

Investment Requirements for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Program

Single Investor US$100,000
Investor and spouse US$175,000
Investor, spouse, and two children aged below 18 years US$200,000
If Investor has more than two children aged below 18 years US$50,000 per child from third child onwards
The Malta Individual Investor Programme means an individual can become a citizen by contributing to the economic and social development of Malta.

Such contributions can lead to the granting of a certificate of naturalization to the investor as well as his or her family.

Benefits of Applying under the Individual Investor Programme

  • The right to travel to more than 160 countries in the world without any visa requirements.
  • Access to Malta’s liberalized tax system and tax planning benefits.
  • The right to hold a Maltese passport as well as your existing passport.
  • The enjoyment of personal security in a developed country with a strong and stable political system.
  • Excellent quality of life with access to Malta’s healthcare and other social institutions.
  • Quality Maltese education for your children without any restrictions.

Investment Requirements for Malta Individual Investor Programme

Main Applicant €650,000
Spouse €25,000
Child below 18 years of age €25,000 per person
Unmarried child between 18 and 26 years €50,000 per person
Dependant parent above 55 years €50,000 per person

After approval, the applicant must

  1. Invest at least €150,000 in approved instruments and hold the investment for at least five years.
  2. Buy residential immovable property in Malta with a minimum value of €350,000 and hold the property for at least five years or lease a residential immovable property in Malta with a minimum annual rent of €16,000 for a period of five years.
The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship-by-Investment Program was established in 1984. This Program is currently the oldest such program in the world.

The Citizenship by Investment Unit follows rigid investment requirements and conducts meticulous due diligence to attract investor citizens of good character.

Benefits: Saint Kitts and Nevis Investment Immigration

  • Visa free travel to all Schengen Area.
  • Visa free travel to Switzerland, UK and Ireland
  • No minimum residence requirements.
  • Simple Procedure with minimum government formalities.
  • Option to include family members in the application form.
  • No income or wealth tax.
  • Option to reside in any of 15 Caribbean community countries (CARICOM countries)
  • Lifetime citizenship
  • Second passport and dual citizenship at your disposal
  • No Personal visit required

Investment Requirements for Real Estate

Real Estate- only villas and condominium units $400,000

Investment Requirements for Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation

Single Applicant US$ 250,000
Applicant and up to 3 family members US$ 300,000
Each additional dependent, regardless of age US$25,000.00
Each additional dependent, regardless of age  US$25,000.00

Therefore, there are many routes to dual citizenship and many more options that those included in this article.

The most important advice is to be aware of the implication of taking a second citizenship, both in the new country and in your original country of citizenship.

If you do not do your research, you could end up losing a citizenship unintentionally, or obtaining a citizenship you did not need in the first place.

But, overall, a second citizenship is becoming an important accessory in the current global community.

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