If you want to travel and work without restrictions, then one of the most useful tools you can have is a second passport.
Dual passports aren’t just for people born overseas. Millions of American citizens potentially qualify. And many of them don’t even know it.
There are all sorts of reasons you could claim dual citizenship: your ethnic heritage, religion, country of birth or even where your spouse was born. “The fact is people don’t think about it until it is pointed out to them,” says Jan Dvorak, president of Travisa, a passport services company in Washington, D.C.
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of U.S. citizens have automatic Mexican citizenship, either as former Mexico residents naturalized in the U.S., or as the descendants of Mexican parents.
Whether you’re of U.S. or another nationality, a second citizenship can sometimes be available to you based on your parents’ or grandparents’ citizenship. Consider your family’s heritage. You could be eligible for a passport under the laws of Ireland, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, and with some further qualifications, the United Kingdom, Spain or Israel.
While there are no hard numbers, media reports seem to indicate that more Americans are trying to qualify for additional passports. It makes sense. Savvy tourists and business travelers can avoid visa fees as well as longer (and slower) lines at immigration when they enter a country on that country’s passport rather than as a “foreigner.” And with a passport from an EU country, for instance, you could live and work there freely.
An article in The New York Times cites an Argentinean with an Italian passport who, last year, added an American one; a U.S.-Bulgarian who works in Warsaw and is thus able to roam the European Union without a visa and a dual U.S.-New Zealand citizen who travels frequently throughout Southeast Asia.
Several countries literally “sell” their official passports, although they prefer to call it “economic citizenship.” You’ll see the “economic” part in the prices they charge.
Until 2010 only two countries in the world offered citizenship for sale: St. Kitts & Nevis and the Commonwealth of Dominica, both small eastern Caribbean island nations located in what in colonial days was known as the British West Indies.
Now a third country, in Europe, has joined their club. And there are also rumors that the government of a fourth nation (also in Europe), strapped for cash, is establishing a similar program.
See my full report on this topic in the upcoming April issue of International Living magazine (if you’re not already a member, subscribe now.)
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