With one in twenty Canadians holding more than one international passport, dual citizenship is clearly very common in Canada – but it’s maybe not as well understood as it should be.
After all, there is no official recognition of dual citizenship by the federal government. Foreign citizens who become Canadian citizens can simply keep their citizenship in their motherland or home Country in many cases.
What Is Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship, or dual nationality as it is sometimes called, is when a person is simultaneously a citizen of two countries. Every country varies in its citizenship laws, so what makes you qualified for being a dual citizen varies from place to place.
Sometimes it comes about automatically, when for instance a child born in a foreign country to parents of U.S citizens may be both an American citizen and a citizen of the country in which they were born.
Throughout the world, only forty-nine (49) countries allow dual citizenship. Including Canada, those countries are:
- Costa Rica;
- Czech Republic;
- Dominican Republic;
- St Kitts & Nevis
- South Africa;
- South Korea;
- United Kingdom;
- The United States, and;
Criteria For Dual Nationality Varies Wildly
In some cases, a person looking to obtain dual citizenship does not even have to move to another country to get it. Italy and Ireland, for instance, allow anyone with ancestors from those countries to acquire citizenship. Italy offers an ancestral passport.
In many cases, the person seeking it has to alert the proper authorities in his or her home country of this intent to become a citizen of another country and may even be prevented from taking up certain occupations in his or her home country because of it.
Egyptians, for instance, need to inform their government they want to retain their Egyptian citizenship within the first year after obtaining Canadian citizenship. Afterward, they will not be able to serve in the Egyptian police or military – or serve in the Egyptian Parliament.
Likewise, Pakistanis who become citizens of Canada and retain their citizenship in Pakistan have a similar deal. They lose some of their voting rights, can no longer serve in the Pakistani police force or military and are prohibited from public office and working with the government.
Those holding dual nationality in the United States need to declare “other allegiances” to obtain their U.S. passport and applying for government programs.
However, hanging onto one’s original citizenship can be a real asset in many cases, including traveling. When a Canadian also has citizenship in the other country to which he or she is traveling, the need to obtain a visitor’s visa disappears. So, too, does the fees that come with getting that visa.
A Canadian with dual nationality can visit his or her other country after spending weeks or months trying to obtain a visa.
One thing to note for sure is that even dual Canadian citizens need to provide their Canadian passport when they board a flight to Canada. The only exception to that rule is United States-Canada dual citizenship.
Holding a dual nationality can also be a lifesaver during emergencies due to civil unrest or other serious issues, enabling the Canadian citizen to have a choice of embassies to get help.