A person who holds dual citizenship is considered to be a citizen in two countries. For example, a child may be born in one country to parents who hold citizenship in another. The place of birth can enable someone to hold citizenship automatically in the first country, and the parent's citizenship can also be passed along to the child. In other cases, a person may hold citizenship in one country and apply to become a naturalized citizen of another. In many cases, the second country will allow the first citizenship to be retained. As citizenship laws broaden and the world becomes more connected, holding dual citizenship is becoming more common and offers benefits to those who are able to take advantage of it.
Citizens with dual citizenship may carry passports from both countries. Using the appropriate visa in each of the countries enables the holders to pass the border more easily, without the need for long-stay visas or customs complications. If one of the passports is from a country that belongs to the European Union, a passport for one effectively opens up travel and the potential to reside in any country throughout the EU without the need for visas or residency requirements.
Career and Work
Countries reserve jobs for their citizens and require special work visas for those who are visitors. At the very least, applying for a work visa without citizenship can be a problem, and success is not guaranteed. Dual citizenship doubles the opportunities to work legally in either country (or countries if the passport held is from an EU country) without the bureaucracy of long-term work visas.
In a post 9/11 age, some Americans who hold dual citizenship feel more secure when traveling. They can use whichever passport makes them less of a target. When dealing with local police of either country, they can claim citizenship.
Connections to Native Land
Some individuals choose to reside and be a naturalized citizen in one country. However, they may not want to totally resign their connections to the land of their birth and family. With dual citizenship, they can usually retain their rights in both countries to vote, own property and obtain government health care if applicable.
Some countries restrict property ownership based on citizenship. For example, a country may regulate the ability of foreigners to own land near a border or coastline. In such countries, a person who plans to live there full or part time may find that being a naturalized citizen (even if they are also a citizen of another country) enables them to own property, and travel back and forth more easily.
In the past, laws in some countries forbade a naturalized citizen from retaining the original citizenship of his native land. Now, dual citizenship is increasingly allowed. Several countries have adapted their laws to encourage citizenship by offering it to former citizens, their children, and even grandchildren and great-grandchildren who wish to carry more than one passport.
Access to Retirement Programs
Several countries are making it possible for people to gain citizenship more easily for retirement in other countries that may be more affordable, such as in Latin America. Countries such as Panama, Belize and Mexico want to encourage people to settle there. In other cases, people with a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent in a country such as Italy or Ireland may be eligible to apply for citizenship there. As mentioned above, this opens up the entire European Union for residence and work.