The Problem with Dual Citizenship

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Many individuals love to claim they have dual citizenship; as if they have the best of both worlds. In reality, this is a highly complicated situation which could hinder assistance when traveling abroad, cause both nations to make claims to your earnings and result in legal double jeopardy for the same crime.

Dual citizens do enjoy several benefits, such as the ability to live and work freely in two countries, more easily own property in both nations, and travel between the countries with greater ease. If you are a dual national by birth, it is easy to make the case and to you this seems quite natural.

There are many drawbacks to making this claim. One of the most expensive is an individual’s accountability for double taxation, which you would owe to each country. Each country has a legitimate claim for your earnings based on your assertation of citizenship whether you like it or not.  Should you not be a dual national by birth, the process for obtaining citizenship from another country is quite long and expensive process.

One of the harshest realities is that you become bound by the laws of two nations. These laws may be in direct conflict or at least contradicting to each other. And, you can’t just jump ship and claim that you are more a citizen of one than the other to suit your circumstance.

While it comes to ‘dual citizenship’ with the United States and another sovereign country, the US State Department advises people to be careful what they claim. Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.” The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality does exist but does not encourage it as a matter of policy. This is because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. nationals may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist nationals abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person’s allegiance.

Because dual citizenship is complex, and the rules and laws regarding citizenship vary from one country to the next, be sure to consult with qualified experts, including tax accountants and experienced citizenship lawyers. The hassles you save could be your own.

 

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