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Dual Citizenship Pros and Cons Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 26th, 2022


This paper tackles various issues to do with citizenship. A large part of the discussion will be on multiple citizenship issues. Generally, the word citizenship refers to the linkage between a person and a certain state. A person is said to be a citizen of a certain country if he or she legally belongs to that country.

Some states have allowed their citizens to acquire citizenships in other countries and this has been a subject of debate. Such people are said to have multiple citizenship or dual citizenships. In respect to the social contract theory, rights as well as responsibilities accompany the citizenship status. The most common means of becoming a citizen of a particular country is through birth or parentage.

This is normally the first citizenship a person earns. An individual can also earn citizenship through marriage and naturalization. The dual citizen, in respect to either of the country’s jurisdiction, which considers such an individual as its citizen, may be compelled to observe all the country’s laws, inclusive of involuntarily serving within its military service (Kalekin-Fishman and Pirrko 94). Dual citizenship is of great benefit to an individual.

However, the governing authorities should review the potential issues associated with it prior to legalizing it. As at present, there is no internationally formulated principle governing dual citizenship. Therefore, every country remains free to treat individuals who possess dual citizenship in accordance to its legislation.

Dual citizenship benefits

As mentioned earlier, dual citizenship comes with many benefits. First, it gives that particular individual practical advantage in terms of employment as well as social security (Bauböck 60). On failing to get employment in one country, a dual citizen could be lucky to be employed in the other countries. Persons who possess dual citizenship tend to enjoy an increased sense of belonging due to their vibrant individual ties to various countries.

In addition, dual citizen offers individuals the opportunity to buy commodities within the country that has lower taxes. In case of war, hard economic times, or any kind of instability in one of the countries, the dual citizen is free to shift residence to the other country without seeking asylum or becoming a refugee (Faist 8). Moreover, the dual citizens have the privilege to get education from institutions that they consider the best amongst the ones in countries where they are citizens.

For instance, a U.S. citizen who also possesses British citizenship may choose to pursue his or her education within Britain if he/she considers Britain better than the U.S in terms of education. In short, these people have the privilege of seeking the services of the country that offers the best among those, which they own citizenship. Above all, dual citizens have the right to own property in any of the countries that recognizes them as legal citizens.

Dual Citizenship drawbacks

Dual citizenship is associated with various negative impacts. For example, many people consider it to impact negatively on the national cohesiveness of a certain country. Dual citizenship is said to hinder cultural assimilation, aggravate political process disconnection, and contribute significantly towards the degradation of national cohesiveness (Hansen and Weil 110). Many people argue that countries should not legalize dual citizenship in order to maintain a vibrant culture along with national identity.

Dual citizenship critics assert that the gaining of a second citizenship without experiencing any pain, for instance, public benefits loss, job opportunities loss, and healthcare benefits loss amongst other losses from the mother country belittles the actual meaning of citizenship. Citizens residing in countries such as the U.S. have the notion that individuals seek dual citizenship simply due to selfish gains.

Dual citizenship is said to nullify the substantial, psychological, as well as transformational change that affects a person who gains a foreign citizenship by naturalization. The securing of an extra citizenship by dual citizenship is actually self –centered as it contradicts the true description of citizenship because individuals are able to access better economic opportunities without any struggles.

Besides, such individuals are always free to discard such citizenship in the event that it does not benefit them (Faist 6). In countries that are considered civic nations, the government is less concerned about the impact that dual citizenship has on national cohesiveness than in countries that can be considered ethnic nations. An example of the latter class of countries is the U.S.

On the other hand, dual citizenship is also associated with the foreign allegiance outlook. Countries consider citizens with dual citizens as nationals who have divided loyalty. This is because they have the potential of acting opposite to the interests of one of the governments that have accorded them citizenship.

After all, they can quit such a country and go to live in the other one. Moreover, such citizens can obtain confidential information about country A and pass to country B while the two countries are experiencing poor democratic relations or if the two countries are at war with each other.

Consequently, such citizens may have trouble in securing government employment in situations where there is need for security clearance. In nations such as the U.S., there are two distinct classes of security issues, which are associated with dual citizenship. These include the foreign preference along with foreign influence. Despite the widespread misconceptions, not dual citizenship alone hinders individuals from gaining or maintaining security clearance in the U.S. (Hansen and Weil 118).

Actually, when one is applying for security clearance as a dual citizen and basing his or her application on the citizenship of his/her parents only, mitigation is applied. Problems can however emerge if a person uses entitlements for U.S. citizens unfairly when he/she is not a U.S. citizen.

In other cases, dual citizenship can bring about extra tax liability. In some countries, Income source and residence form the basis for determining whether an individual will pay tax. Concerning residency, most countries tax income earned by individuals regardless of the nature of citizenship, and regardless of whether the individual earned the income from the specific country or overseas.

On the side of source, the countries’ governing bodies tax every income generated within its borders, without putting into consideration whether the affected person is a resident, citizen, or even non-resident. Eritrea and the U.S are countries that undertake taxation based on citizenship.

In the cases where taxation is carried out in terms of citizenship, the citizens’ global income is subjected to taxation without putting into consideration whether they reside within the mother country or not (Kalekin-Fishman and Pirrko 97). Therefore, in such a scenario, a dual citizen may end up experiencing tax liability by becoming a victim of double taxation. This will definitely give such a person hard economic times. However, some countries have entered into tax treaties with the objective of protecting citizens from double taxation.

It is also widely believed that individuals who become dual citizens voluntarily have the potential of interfering negatively with community protection. In most of the cases, such individuals do not contribute to the economic welfare of the countries that have accorded them citizenship.

In addition, such individuals possess no factual attachments to the countries which they seek protection. The dual citizens can end up creating trouble in one of the countries in order to escape to the other country in the event that things get out of hand. Actually, some countries consider dual citizens valueless (Bauböck 69).

Dual citizens can also experience various problems while making international travels. In numerous nations, inclusive of those that recognize dual citizenship, the established laws do not recognize dual citizenship explicitly. These countries may only recognize dual citizens as citizens of one of the countries they own citizenship.

Dual citizens travelling to countries that recognize them as their legal citizens may be compelled to gain entry or exit from the country using the specific country’s passport (Kalekin-Fishman 102). To exemplify this, South Africans who have dual citizenship and are 18 years or more are not allowed to use passports belonging to other countries to enter or leave the country.

The issue of dual citizenship becomes a hot debate if it concerns politicians. Due to the nature of their job, many people believe that countries should not allow them to have dual citizenship. This is because their electorate expects them to remain loyal to their government alone.

In addition, some countries may also deny government employees dual citizenship (Faist 4). However, some countries allow government employees to become dual citizens. For example, even as a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger had dual citizenship. He was in possession of Austrian and U.S. citizenships.

Dual Citizenship Global Changes

People have often questioned the limits of dual citizenship especially in terms of immigrant integration as well as societal integration processes.

In order to elaborate the multiple citizenship concepts further, academicians have come up with other conceptualizations such as global citizenship, partial citizenship, post-national citizenship, transnational citizenship, and cosmopolitan citizenship, overlapping citizenship along with many others (Hansen and Weil 115). Scholars have established that within the dual citizenship scenario, there still exist various inequalities especially in relation to membership.

For the case of undocumented well skilled laborers along with migrants, countries should view formal citizenship as the vital individual rights expression process. This is just an example which points at the citizenship concept limits once linked to the political citizenship liberal interpretation while foregrounding the citizenship dimensions, both socially as well as economically (Hansen and Weil 106).

It is vital to note that within the previous several decades, the dual citizenship concept has experienced steady increase in tolerance despite the significantly uneven pace. This trend, which many assume as a ‘bumpy-line’ concerning the escalating tolerance, brings about the path-dependent development.

Nevertheless, it is evident that various developmental pressures have instigated the transformation of citizenship. About the path-dependent procedure, it is evident that once state organizations, or even the states which can be termed as collective actors, commence moving towards a specific direction the reversal costs are relatively high.

However, this may be simplified by the emergence of other choices that affect decision-making (Kalekin-Fishman and Pirrko 98). The path-dependent impact emerges once a former decision, rule, or even norm reinforces itself, in the event that the decision partially dictates the subsequent events course. Decisions reached by global organizations, along with states, over time minimize the available options within the subsequent instances therefore encouraging continuity through the original choice retention.

The mechanism of path-dependence has turned out in uncovering the major factors leading to the general international trend of dual citizenship tolerance within the post-national viewpoint. The previously mentioned mechanism can also assist in comprehending the factors, which have brought about the diverse paths adopted by certain immigration states.

In comprehending the dual citizenship’s tolerance growth, through the path-dependent process, it is possible to identify the ‘positive’ effects (Bauböck 63). These ‘positive’ effects are simply will of course boost the economic gains. The contextual conditions, which have fostered the dual citizenship’s tolerance growth, are such as the verity that multiple ties within the state level gain recognition by various sovereign states. Emigration states are presently demonstrating more interest in their overseas citizens.

On the other hand, immigration states are beginning, in certain cases, to soften their stand on unilateral allegiance, offering support to the equal rights principles. Within the global realm, conventions particularly the multi-lateral ones, have been gradually more tolerant of their citizens ties to numerous states.

State authorities have also gradually stopped viewing dual citizens as a threat to security because most of the democratic countries have stopped going into wars. Even though various incidents such as the one that happened on US bombing might have affected the dual citizenship concept, it is only the non-citizens’ civil rights which were mainly affected. In short, it is quite clear that many nations are now recognizing and welcoming dual citizenship.

Multiple Citizenship Facts

From the above discussion, it is understandable that the dual citizenship concept will remain a hotly debated issue both empirically as well as normatively (Hansen and Weil 111). Nevertheless, extensive studies have established three facts, which will remain to be true in relation to dual citizenship. In the first place, one can conclude that dual citizenship cannot be avoided totally and nations that are against it will have to bear the situation.

This is because no single state can dictate the nationality requirements of another state. In addition, there is no international law with a universal nationality description. Besides, it is not possible to control the movement of individuals between various nations, (Faist 2). On giving birth in a different country, the child born acquires two citizenships. That of the parent’s country and that of the country he or she is born.

Other dual citizenship supporters such as Peter Spiro allege that dual citizenship will be welcome by more and more countries because it turns out as a value generator. The liberal democracies such as the U.S will view dual citizenship as the perfect way of exporting the liberal democratic ideals to other overseas countries. In the event that dual citizens possess citizenships of lesser democratic or simply undemocratic nations, the exporting of liberal democratic ideals will not only be valuable to the West but also the whole world in general.

On the other hand, despite the widespread allegations that dual citizenship impedes integration, it actually furthers integration. This thesis can be proven by reviewing the relationship that exists between the concept of dual nationality and that of naturalization.

In countries such as Germany, academicians in the country have shown that the country experiences dismal naturalization rates due to the dual citizenship prohibition. On the other side, countries like Holland have experienced the actual benefits of dual citizenship along with naturalization toleration.

Many consider the distinguishing effect as both psychological and mechanical (Faist and Kivisto 56). In the German scenario, citizens remain reluctant to surrender the second passport’s instrumental benefits such as inheritance rights, the right to secure employment overseas, pension rights along with many others. The impeding of integration by dual citizenship is negative but it is counteracted by the fact that countries such as United Kingdom view it as a pivotal or secondary element within its integration strategies.

U.S Dual Citizenship

The United States is one of the countries that have legalized dual citizenship. Even though the laws of the U.S. recognize dual citizenship, the ruling government in the country fails to address it more comprehensively within its policies (Bauböck 58).

U.S. authorities tend to direct divided attention towards the issue due to the problems associated with it. Nevertheless, it is vital to note that foreign citizens do not withdraw their original citizenship upon becoming citizens of the U.S. Individuals who, through naturalization, obtain the citizenship of the United States may also retain their initial citizenship.

However, it is vital to put into consideration that this is only possible in cases where the individuals have moved from countries that permit dual citizenship (Faist and Kivisto 76). Event though there is no official data regarding the population of dual citizens within the United States, it is highly likely that their figures are growing drastically. This is because both legal and illegal immigration is increasingly taking place.

Other reasons for the increase of cases of dual citizenship in the U.S. are that naturalization petitions are increasing at an alarming rate, and the highest source countries are making legal changes encouraging naturalization within the United States (Boll and Kenneth 87). This means that dual citizenship in the U.S. will persist and continue increasing.

Conclusion/ Future of Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship gives an individual an opportunity to belong and enjoy the benefits of belonging to different countries. A person is in a position to get the best education, health care and a variety of other services. This would not be the case if one belongs to only one country, which offers low quality services. Citizenship can be acquired through birth, parentage, marriage, or naturalization. However dual citizenship is of great advantage to an individual, it can also have negative impacts on the individual and more so to the respective countries.

A person may end up being taxed more than once and a country’s secrets may be leaked to countries that pose danger among other issues. Acquiring dual citizenship has become and continues to become easier than it was there before (Kivisto and Faist 134). This is because of the laws that have been passed by various nations in favor of dual citizenship. Increased social changes like inter-racial marriages, globalization of businesses and increased coordination of development among nations promote dual citizenship.

Moreover, the advancement in technology especially in the communications sector has made the process of acquiring dual citizenship very easy. Besides, with the improved communications technology, nations will no longer view dual citizens as a threat to their security because they will be in a position to obtain any necessary information from the respective governments with a lot of ease.

Works Cited

Bauböck, Rainer. Migration and Citizenship: Legal Status, Rights and Political Participation. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2006. Print.

Boll, Alfred, and Keith, Kenneth. Multiple Nationality and International Law. Leiden: Nijhoff, 2007. Print.

Faist, Thomas. Dual Citizenship in Europe: From Nationhood to Societal Integration. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Faist, Thomas and Peter, Kivisto. Dual Citizenship in Global Perspective: From Unitary to Multiple Citizenship. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.

Hansen, Randall, and Patrick, Weil. Dual Nationality, Social Rights, and Federal Citizenship in the U. S. and Europe: The Reinvention of Citizenship. New York: Berghahn Books, 2002. Print.

Kalekin-Fishman, Devorah, and Pitkänen, Pirrko. Multiple Citizenship As a Challenge to European Nation-States. Rotterdam: Sense, 2007. Print.

Kalekin-Fishman, Devorah. An Emerging Institution?: Multiple Citizenship in Europe – Views of Officials. Bern: Lang, 2008. Print.

Kivisto, Peter, and Thomas, Faist. Citizenship: Discourse, Theory, and Transnational Prospects. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2007. Print.

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