There have been more and more stories circulating about Americans giving up their US passports due to increasingly onerous regulations affecting them even if they are abroad. One of the prerequisites to giving up a US passport is to hold the citizenship of another country.
In this context I wanted to give a quick rundown on second passports and the ways one might acquire them.
We’ll cover the subject of “jus soli” in more detail in an upcoming post – this is hands-down the easiest path to acquiring a second citizenship, because it depends completely on your parents and you literally don’t have to think about it.
Apart from special cases (think: Africans obtaining Euro citizenship to play on the national soccer team, presidential decrees, and whatnot), here are the 4 main ways other than “jus soli” normal folks go about getting a second passport.
Summary: ”You are already citizen and you may not know it yet.”
Explanation: In almost all cases if one of your parents was a citizen of a country at the time of your birth, you are a citizen of that same country. Two parents from different countries = two different citizenships. Additionally some countries have generous citizenship by descent rules that include grandparents or beyond – notably Italy, Poland, and Ireland. If you had a grandparent or great-grandparent from one of these countries, it may be worth looking into the rules and searching for old birth records to see if you qualify. It’s also a blast from the past to do some genealogical research!
Summary: “If you live somewhere long enough they may give you a passport.”
Explanation: If you have been living in a country legally – or even sometimes otherwise – for long enough you may qualify to apply for citizenship. Most of the time the “marry someone and get citizenship” idea is based on this route, as the marriage allows a person to get a residence permit, and after a certain number of years with the residence permit the person qualifies for citizenship via naturalization.
Tip: the required residence period is varies between countries. One of the great things about Brazil is that it is only one year for parents of children born in Brazil (those are the rules – it takes a bit longer for the paperwork to move through the system practically speaking).
Summary: “Pay to play.”
Explanation: This is where things start to get a little interesting. A few countries will essentially sell citizenship to you, but it doesn’t come cheap. One of the more serious ones is the little Caribbean country of St Kitts and Nevis. Pick-up artist and author Neil Strauss wrote all about going through the process in his book Emergency. I’d take a close look at other options before taking this route. It’s expensive to start with and the countries involved are generally not political heavyweights.
Other / Sketchball
Summary: the heading says it all.
Explanation: This is where things get really interesting. This is usually some shady variation on the economic citizenship idea or worse, in a less developed country. Simple advice: do your own due diligence and think about why or how your new citizenship might not actually exist or be revoked. There are other far cheaper and more legitimate routes available.
One thing to consider is that if you are going to work on getting a second passport you will likely travel with it one day. It would be convenient if your race + passport combination did not raise eyebrows at passport control. Example: if you are a Caucasian, you may get a little extra attention if you are traveling on a Southeast Asian passport. One of the great things about the Jus Soli countries is that they are historically “new world” countries full of immigrants and their descendants, and no matter your race you will have a much higher chance of fitting in.