Before the coronavirus pandemic, American passport holders had easy access to almost anywhere on the globe. But the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. has led to many nations closing their doors to U.S. passport holders, both for tourism and residency. The situation has prompted many U.S. passport holders to seek second passports through heritage citizenship (citizenship passed on through family and ancestry), or investment and buying property.
Although the U.S. does not track the number of dual citizens in the country, some estimate that there are as many as 40 million dual citizens in the U.S. In this post, we’re diving into why having dual citizenship and a second passport is appealing to so many people, and how you could get one yourself.
Why Do People Want a Second Passport?
Having dual citizenship (a passport from two countries) allows for freedom of movement and the ability to live abroad. For example, if you hold an EU passport, you can visit, work, study and live almost anywhere on the European continent. Right now, American passport holders are barred from Europe, as well as many other places.
Some people want a second passport because they plan on leaving the U.S. to live somewhere else, while others want it as a “security policy” for travel, since most other passports now have more power than an American one. If Americans are banned from entering a country due to skyrocketing COVID cases, those with dual citizenship might still be able to visit. As the situation with coronavirus continues to evolve and the U.S. has the highest number of global cases hotspots, having a second passport allows Americans the freedom to leave the country.
How Can People Get a Second Passport Through Heritage Citizenship?
The most common route to dual citizenship (besides marriage) is through ancestry. Many countries allow people whose parents, grandparents or even great grandparents were citizens to get passports, if they can prove their family’s history there. Not every country allows for citizenship by ancestry, and some have restrictions on how far back heritage ties can be.
Here is a list of countries that offer heritage citizenship:
- Israel (Right of Return grants citizenship to any Jewish person or child of Jewish person)
- South Africa
Italy and Hungary are unusual in that there is no restriction on how far back your family’s residency was—you just have to prove that a relative had citizenship until the birth of their children, which you can do with marriage certificates and birth certificates. Most other countries require either a parent or grandparent to have been a citizen. If you get a European passport by heritage, you will be able to live or work throughout the EU.
The process for getting a second passport through heritage can take months or even longer, but once you have dual citizenship it lasts for life. Research the specific requirements of your family’s country of origin to learn how to apply for a second passport.
How Do People Get a Second Passport Through Property or Investment?
Not everyone is lucky enough to have heritage citizenship. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a second passport to move abroad or travel. Some countries allow “economic citizenship”, which means that they reward people who invest in their country through real estate or a sizable donation to the government with citizenship. Often called “ a golden passport”, economic citizenship is popular with the international business community. Usually, the process takes about six months after property is purchased or funds paid.
Specific requirements on the amount of money that needs to be spent vary by country, but are about $100,000 at minimum. Countries in both the Caribbean and Europe allow for citizenship by investment; as with heritage citizenship those with EU passports can live easily throughout the continent.
Here is a list of countries that allow for investment citizenship:
- St. Kitts
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Cayman Islands
- The UK
Having dual citizenship takes time and sometimes significant funds, but it’s a worthwhile investment to be able to visit and live in countries all over the world, no matter what happens with the U.S. passport following the pandemic.
In the meantime, Skip can help you get the most out of your U.S. passport with door-to-door passport renewals. We can also help expedite passport renewals and help with new passports. Remember that many countries require 6 months of validity on your passport in order to enter, so it's best to renew your U.S. passport early. Good luck with your passport journey!