Dual Citizenship: Advantages and Disadvantages

Date Published : February 17, 2020 | Category : Citizenship

Dual Citizenship: An Overview

Dual citizenship happens automatically in some situations, such as when a child is born in the United States to foreign parents. Unless the parents are foreign diplomats, the child generally becomes a citizen of the United States, as well as of the parents’ home nation. Similarly, if a child of U.S. citizens is born overseas, he or she may automatically become a citizen of both the United States and the country of birth, depending on that country’s laws.

Dual citizenship can also be achieved through specialized legal processes, such as when a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen. In this case, dual citizenship is not automatic but it is possible if the foreign national has been a permanent resident (a green card holder) for at least three years, has been living in a marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse during that time, and meets other eligibility requirements.1

While the United States allows dual citizenship without necessarily promoting it, not all countries do.2 In the above example, the foreign national's home country may allow dual citizenship, or it may cancel the person's citizenship when he or she becomes naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

One benefit of dual citizenship is having two passports. However, a potential drawback is double taxation.

Dual citizenship is complex. Read on for the pros, cons, and obligations of being a citizen of two countries.

Advantages of Dual Citizenship

Benefits and Privileges

Dual citizens can receive the benefits and privileges offered by each country. For example, they have access to two social service systems, can vote in either country and may be able to run for office in either country, depending on the law. They are also allowed to work in either country without needing a work permit or visa and can attend school in either country at the citizen tuition rate.

Two Passports

As a dual citizen, you are allowed to carry passports from both countries. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen and also a citizen of New Zealand, you can travel more easily between the two countries. Having a citizen's passport eliminates the need for long-stay visas and questioning about the purpose of your trip. It also guarantees the right of entry to both countries, which can be especially important if you have a family to visit, are a student or do business in either country.

Continue studying in Australia

You might be able to keep studying in Australia to gain a higher qualification or embark on another field of study. If you decide to undertake further study, check whether your visa allows this or if you need to apply for a new visa. If you completed a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degree, you could be eligible for the Post-Study Work stream of the Temporary Graduate visa.

Preparing to return home

Once you’ve finished your degree, you might be eager to head home to see your friends and family. If you go home to do further study or work, there are some essential things to do before you leave Australia:

Property Ownership

Another benefit of dual citizenship is the ability to own property in either country. Some countries restrict land ownership to citizens only. As a legal citizen of two countries, you would be able to purchase property in either—or both—countries. If you travel frequently between the two countries, this might be especially useful since property ownership might offer a more economical way to live in two places.

Cultural Education

As a dual citizen, you'll reap the benefits of being immersed in the culture of the two countries. Some government officials are also fond of dual citizenship and see it as a way to promote the country's image as a prime destination for tourists. Perhaps the best upside is the satisfaction of learning about the history of both countries, a new language and a different way of life.

Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship

Dual Obligations

As a dual citizen, you are bound by the laws of both countries. For example, if you are a citizen of the United States and a country with mandatory military service, you can lose your U.S. citizenship under certain circumstances, such as if you serve as an officer in a foreign military that is engaged in a war against the United States. In general, U.S. policy recognizes that dual citizens might be legally obligated to fulfill military obligations abroad, and many can do so without jeopardizing their U.S. citizen status, but it is important to research each situation carefully.

Double Taxation

The United States imposes taxes on its citizens for income earned anywhere in the world. If you are a dual citizen living abroad, you might owe taxes both to the United States and to the country where the income was earned. Income tax treaties are in effect, however, between the United States and many other countries that reduce or eliminate a U.S. citizen’s tax liability in the United States. A treaty between the United States and New Zealand, for example, overrides the income tax laws of each country to avoid double taxation. Even so, dual citizens may be required to file U.S. tax returns. Because tax laws are complicated and can change from year to year, be sure to consult with a qualified tax accountant.

Security Clearance

Depending on your career path, dual citizenship can be a disadvantage. If you are seeking a position with the U.S government or access to classified information, having dual citizenship can prevent you from gaining the security clearance you need to work in these fields. Those born into dual citizenship may encounter fewer problems than those who actively sought it out.

Complicated Process

Sometimes dual citizenship happens automatically, as is the case when a child is born in the United States to foreign parents. Other times, however, the process can take many years and can be extremely expensive.

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