Dual Citizenship — Second Citizenship

The concept of citizenship has over the years grown to encompass different theoretical perspectives stemming from various social, environmental and political movements such as environmental citizenship, ecological citizenship, global citizenship and cosmopolitan citizenship. In the quest of integrating and strengthening Europe, the concept of European Citizenship was developed, later giving rise to the term Multicultural Citizenship; a concept that seeks to offer the vision of how people of several different countries, cultures and regions can live together in mutual respect. Here, what could have been loosely transformed into an extraordinary case of Multiple Citizenship (a status in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen under the laws of more than one state) was molded into a different concept as a result of the integration of several nations in forming a single unit.

The term “citizen” refers to an individual who owes allegiance to a state in which sovereign power is retained by the people and sharing in the political rights of those people. Very often, the expressions ‘citizen’, ‘subject’ and ‘national’ tend to be synonymously employed, however, a subject generally implies allegiance to a personal sovereign, for example “The king’s subjects”, while a national designates one who may claim the protection of a state and is often applied to one living or traveling outside that state, example, “Every citizen is a national, not every national is a citizen”.

Today, technological advancements as well as the globalization of politics, economy and culture have lead to the increased integration of people, thus making the acquisition of a second citizenship or dual citizenship (being a citizen of two nations) and 2nd passports a rather normal part of life. Every day, people travel to foreign lands on vacation, business or in search of employment, political freedom and higher education.

Having dual citizenship or a second citizenship, thus, can occur very easily; by being born in one country (jus soli) while being parented by someone of a different nationality, naturalization (by residence, merit and marriage), ancestry (jus sanguinis) or via economic citizenship programs, though all of these may tend to vary from one country to the next since they depend on the country’s criteria for granting citizenship and allowing dual citizenship and second passports.

For example, citizenship is granted to virtually anyone born in certain countries such as the United States and Brazil, while other countries only automatically confer their nationality to stateless children born within their territories. Thus, a child who is born in the U.S. to someone pursuing studies in the United States acquires dual citizenship since he will be granted American citizenship, and at the same time have citizenship of his non American parent (s). Or, a person who was born in Canada may have multiple or dual citizenships if his or her spouse, parents and grandparents were born in a foreign country and have the citizenship of another.

Second Citizenship/dual citizenship has several advantages, particularly to the foreigner living and working in a foreign country and needs social security, employment, education and a sense of belonging. A second passport is a tool for increasing employment and work permit opportunities, particularly if the country of birth has strict laws on employment abroad. Being able to invest in real estate and secure bank loans for personal or business reasons is also further enhanced as a citizen of a country rather than a foreigner.

Another advantage of dual citizenship or a second passport is education opportunities. In a world where education is key, accessing free or affordable primary, secondary or tertiary education will surely be guaranteed in countries where education is free or costs less for its citizens, such as in Great Britain, France and the United States.

On the other hand, however, while dual citizenship presents the foregoing advantages, there are disadvantages of which one must be fully aware. Although, generally, the laws applying to a dual citizen are of the country in which he is physically present at the time, this poses a serious problem as international courts have a general tendency of upholding the rights of both nationalities/countries to impose military service. At times, children of mixed marriages who have dual nationalities also suffer from bitter divorces as they are often easily abducted by a parent who flees the current country of residence.

Dual citizenship is permitted by the citizenship laws of several countries throughout the world. In Canada, the United Kingdom and within the Caribbean region, it can be acquired through legal adoption, by birth to a citizen or legally established national, ancestry, registration or naturalization, while in some instances, it is facilitated via an economic citizenship program. In the United States, one obtains American citizenship mainly by birth or naturalization, which can be accessed by various ways of securing permanent residency.

Anyone who is interested in acquiring a dual citizenship and a second nationality should seek professional advice from a lawyer and the immigration authorities both in his country and that of which he is seeking to become a citizen. Newly naturalized citizens and persons born with another citizenship are sometimes required to renounce their first citizenship in order to acquire a new one. In some instances, a person’s first citizenship may be automatically revoked by his country, should he become a dual citizen when granted the citizenship of another. Obtaining correct information on dual citizenship and second passports should always be a must since this enables people to not only acquire a new nationality, but the right one.


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