The Origin of Dual Citizenship by Investment
Dual citizenship by investment is a relatively new development. In 1984, St Kitts and Nevis developed the world’s first citizenship by investment program in order to diversify their economy. Unfortunately, their economy had overly relied on the sugar industry for far to long. Therefore, when sugar prices collapsed in the middle of the 20th century their small island nation had an economic crisis.
However, the program was a huge success and the economy stabilized. As a result, many other developed and undeveloped countries have since followed in their footsteps. This would include some of the other Caribbean countries but ironically the world’s largest developed economies followed suit.
Unfortunately, dual citizenship by investment is deemed by some to be unpatriotic. Nonetheless, the mutual benefits are enormous for the applicant and also the issuing country. As a result, the issuing country acquires an immediate economic boost and also a new citizen of exceptional means. Additionally, the applicant gains the freedom and security of a new passport.
Dual Citizenship by Conventional Means
Prior to the introduction of dual citizenship by investment programs, conventional means of obtaining dual citizenship were plentiful. The conventional means remain intact, however they can be very time consuming and sometimes fate must play it’s part. With the exception of naturalization by birth all of the conventional means involve what is invariably a long and arduous process.
List of Conventional Means
Citizenship by Naturalization – most countries provide the path of citizenship to immigrants who fulfill certain requirements. However, this may involve a lengthy period of residency, fluency in the national language and taking a pledge of allegiance. Unfortunately, swearing allegiance to the host country may involve renunciation of your current citizenship.
Citizenship by Marriage – acquiring a spouse from the issuing country has long been a conventional means of acquiring dual citizenship. However, very few countries will grant citizenship to the new spouse on the wedding day (e.g. Iran). Additionally, a marriage can be fraught with domestic complications. Furthermore, many countries have passed laws against sham marriages. Therefore, marriage is only a reliable method to obtain dual citizenship if it sustainable.
Citizenship by Religion – some countries such as Israel will grant citizenship based on religion. As a result, all Jews are allowed to immigrate to Israel and will be given a fast tracked path to citizenship. Additionally, dual citizenship is allowed but Israeli citizens can only enter Israel by using their Israeli passport.
Citizenship by Descent – historically many countries have granted citizenship based on descent. As a result, if your parents or even grandparents are citizens of the issuing country then you may be granted citizenship. In recent times many countries have modified traditional laws to permit descent to be traced through either parent. Although descent had previously only been traced through the father.
Citizenship by Adoption – a minor who is adopted by parents that are citizens of the issuing country is usually granted citizenship.
Countries that do not Permit Dual Citizenship
For applicants who are pursuing a second passport it would be prudent to confirm if dual citizenship is permitted. Some countries such as Singapore have long been the darlings of the financial elite as second citizenship countries. However, Singapore and a few other countries have decided to put sovereign unity ahead of dual citizenship programs. As a result, you may be required to revoke your current citizenship before acquiring a new passport from a short list of countries. This can be done by requiring applicants to renounce their current citizenship or revoking existing citizenship from citizens who subsequently acquire dual citizenship.
Dual Citizenship is not Permitted
Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Burma, Bahrain, Botswana, Japan, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Ecuador, Estonia, Iran, Poland, Papua New Guinea, Brunei, Japan, Peru, Kuwait, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Chile, Kiribati, Poland, Korea, Kuwait, Denmark, Latvia, Singapore, Slovakia, Ecuador, Lithuania, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Thailand, Mexico, Nepal, Venezuela, Norway, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal
Dual Citizenship may result in Double Taxation
Obtaining multiple citizenships may result in a tax liability from each country in which you are a citizen. Although in most tax scenarios a person with dual nationality would only pay tax in their country of residence. However, two notable exceptions would be the United States and Eritrea. Thus, US citizens residing outside the US would be liable for income tax in both countries. Although the US government does have tax treaties with some countries that allow for foreign tax credits. As a result of dual taxation, some US citizens have resorted to renunciation of their US citizenship.
Historical Origin of Renunciation of US Citizenship
Throughout feudal times the doctrine of perpetual allegiance applied to all of those who acquired dual citizenship. As a result, British immigrants to America were still held accountable as British citizens. Unfortunately, this resulted in severe diplomatic issues under some circumstances. For example, Britain attempted to enforce conscription on American Sailors who they believed were still subjects of the British crown. This misunderstanding led to the War of 1812 and the right of renunciation would be implemented soon thereafter.
The US Congress finally passed the US Expatriation Act in 1868 which gave Americans the right to renounce their US citizenship. As a result, many other countries such as Britain followed soon afterwards with similar legislation. Many countries including the United States still permit their citizens to renounce US citizenship.
Ironically, dual citizenship is currently a requirement of renunciation. Therefore, having a second passport is required or the US State department will not approve requests for renunciation or relinquishment of their US passport. The legal foundation of this requirement is uncertain because the US Congress did not include it in the existing legislation.
How to Renounce US Citizenship
According to Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481 there are 7 acts which effectively result in a renunciation of US citizenship provided the person is over 18 years of age and voluntarily completed the qualifying acts with the intention to relinquish US citizenship. However, only 2 of the qualifying acts are commonly used.
Making a formal oath of renunciation to a diplomatic or consular officer in a foreign office outside the United States in a manner that is prescribed by the Secretary of State
Becoming a naturalized citizen of a foreign state by their own application or by application of an authorized agent. This act of renunciation is known as “relinquishment”.
Implications of Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481
In regards to relinquishment, it is of note that Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481 requires the US Secretary of State to presume that dual citizenship was obtained without the requisite intent to relinquish. As a result, it is not necessary to use option 2 because option 1 is sufficient.
Option 2 is far more complex because the person making the request for renunciation must prove they intended to renounce at the time they satisfied the requirements of naturalization. Therefore, if the US Secretary of State feels that the required intent is lacking or uncertain then renunciation will not be approved. Furthermore, the fee for renunciation which is currently $2,350 will not be refunded.
The other 5 acts of renunciation are inapplicable for most US citizens. For example, after turning the age of 18 if you voluntarily: 1) Commit an act of treason against the US government 2) Serve in a foreign military that is hostile to the US government 3) Accept a foreign government post after acquiring dual citizenship 4) Making a formal written request to the US Attorney General from within the United States during time of war or 5) Taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign state or political sub-division thereof.
Benefits of Dual Citizenship By Investment
Your application for dual citizenship by investment will be approved provided you successfully complete the exhaustive application process. However, the process is only contingent on your financial means, personal background, professional background, criminal background and medical history. Additionally, it is imperative that you prove your identity beyond any doubt. As a result, your dual citizenship should be approved within 6-12 months.
Dual Citizenship by investment does not impose any conventional requirements such as fluency in the national language, marriage, family descent, religion, place of birth or dual taxation. Additionally, none of the countries offering dual citizenship by investment require conscription into the military service.