Dual citizenship has become a hot topic among many Americans in recent years. It might be because of political reasons, DNA genealogy research, or tax interests. Or perhaps an expanded connection with the greater world. Whatever your reason, having a passport in more than one country can be quite an asset. However, learning how to apply for dual citizenship can be harder than you think. I’m going through this right now as I try to gain Italian citizenship. And I’ve got some tips on how to apply for dual citizenship there as well as other countries.
It’s intriguing to me that a lot of people are exploring dual citizenship with countries connected to their lineage. My own grandparents immigrated to the US from Sicily in the 1900s. They boarded a boat in Palermo and steamed past the Statue of Liberty to be processed and welcomed at Ellis Island in New York. Because of their roots, by Italian law I could qualify to get an Italian passport. Of course this depends on if I am able and willing to jump through a bunch of hoops.
But why would I want to do that? How do I do it? And which countries are the easiest to learn how to apply for dual citizenship? Keep reading for the answers.
How to Apply for Dual Citizenship
The definition of dual citizenship is having the rights and responsibilities of two countries at the same time. While not all countries allow you to be a dual citizen, the United States does not have any laws barring Americans from holding multiple citizenships. There are a variety of rules in each country that govern this process. Some rely on ancestry to allow Americans to be dual citizens. Others have stipulations that include financial investments, residency requirements and even character assessments. About two-thirds of the world recognizes dual citizenship with the United States. At least 50 countries offer some kind of citizenship by ancestry.
Why Get Dual Citizenship
There are many reasons someone might be interested in how to apply for dual citizenship. The benefits include:
- Ability to move around the world easier
- Own property
- Business opportunities
- Tax advantages
- Connection to one’s roots.
In addition, dual citizenship could give you access to the stellar education and healthcare to which every citizen of that country is entitled.
For me, I want for our family to have a passport from a country other than the US. Once I have my Italian citizenship, my kids are automatically accepted and can receive theirs as well. Unfortunately, there is no such rule for spouses. Triton will have to earn his the harder way by taking tests and proving residency.
Who is Eligible for Citizenship in Another Country?
According to United States laws, Americans can carry passports from up to three different countries. There are no laws that require anyone to renounce one nationality for another. An American can live and even naturalize in a foreign country without having any risk to their American nationality or the benefits they receive with that citizenship. However, you will be required to obey all the laws of both countries. This could include additional taxes or even compulsory military service.
8 of the Easiest Countries in which to Become a Dual Citizen
For those who want to live the Bella Vita, an Italian heritage may mean you could be able to emigrate to Italy and receive an EU passport. Or you can apply for dual citizenship given certain factors. You must be able to prove you have a parent or grandparent (or even further back) of Italian descent. The birth, death and marriage records of your ancestor are needed, which are not always easy to get. You also have to show proof of their emigration to the United States, so those Ellis Island records will come in handy for me.
Because of the difficulty of finding birth records from the late 1800s in Sicily, I might need to hire help. My grandparents came from a small town in Sicily called Castelvetrano (famous now for its delicious olives). Record keeping back then may have been a little challenged, and the language is a barrier for me. Better to hire an expert to help navigate the process like our friend Joe did. He found an American attorney who is fluent in Italian and specializes in immigration issues, so I’m hoping to enlist his help.
Italy does have a relatively simple citizenship-by-descent program once I have my ducks in a row. When I gather the correct documentation, I should have a good chance of receiving Italian citizenship. In the meantime, I will continue making recipes from my Sicilian Nana and mom, like this delicious Italian Stuffed Zucchini recipe.
If you want to head to Central America, you may want to consider Guatemala. The process to become a citizen or acquire residency is very straightforward and relatively inexpensive. The Guatemalan Investment Program allows foreign nationals to apply for full citizenship after purchasing government bonds in excess of $50,000. With flexible requirements and a quick-moving process, dual citizenship in Guatemala could be yours in less than a year.
Do you have German ancestry? If your father (or mother depending on the year you were born) were German citizens when you were born, you may be eligible for an EU passport via Germany. Or, if you can prove your grandparents or great-grandparents were German, that may be enough to earn citizenship by descent. This includes those people who were stripped of citizenship during Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945.
Having a father (or mother depending on what year you were born) who was a citizen of India at the time of your birth may qualify you to receive citizenship in India. For those with a grandparent or great-grandparent who had Indian citizenship, may be able to receive an Overseas Citizen of India card. While this isn’t full citizenship, it does give you legal permission to live, work, and own property in India (if you have never been a Pakistan or Bangladesh citizen).
5. The Dominican Republic
One of the benefits of becoming a citizen of the Dominican Republic is that you are then able to travel to all the British Commonwealth countries without a visa. This includes a variety of destinations from Australia to Canada. The requirements include a medical examination, background check and a variety of fees (including an investment of at least $100,000). The process on how to apply for dual citizenship here can take up to 12 months or more.
Interested in living the laidback South American lifestyle? Paraguay might be a good option for you. Becoming a citizen of Paraguay is a straightforward process. There are residency requirements, including being in the country for three years with a minimum of 183 days in the country each year. You also need to have £4,000 (about $5,700 USD) in an account in a Paraguayan bank. Once you meet these two conditions, a Paraguayan passport and dual citizenship could be yours.
The citizenship-by-ancestry program in Ireland is one of the simplest ones. Once you learn how to apply for dual citizenship, you must have at least one parent or grandparent (or great-grandparent in some cases) who has Irish citizenship.
You apply for citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register. You can also get dual citizenship in Ireland through naturalization after living in Ireland for five years. If you marry an Irish citizen and live in the country for at least three years you may also qualify for naturalization.
Israel’s Law of Return provides a path to citizenship for Americans of Jewish heritage or faith. This includes those who don’t have an Israeli citizen for a parent. The law is designed to welcome people whose mothers or grandmothers were Jews, or were gentiles who had converted to Judaism. The Law of Return also allows a Jewish person’s spouse, children, and grandchildren to qualify for dual citizenship. The application is rather fast and simple compared to other countries. Keep in mind that gaining citizenship also includes compulsory military service for all non-Arabs over 18 years old.
Are You Ready to Apply for Dual Citizenship?
Now that you’ve learned how to apply for dual citizenship, are you ready?
No matter your reason for wanting to obtain dual citizenship, there are some useful benefits you could receive. The paperwork may be daunting and the financial obligations could be many. However if you are willing to persevere, you may be on your way to carrying a new passport.
Italy, here we come!