One of the more intriguing concepts in immigration law is dual citizenship or dual nationality. In its simplest form, dual nationality means allegiance to more than one country. Although some countries place strict controls on who is and who is not considered a citizen, a surprising number (including the United States) have no actual restrictions on dual nationality. It is not unheard of for individuals to claim citizenship in as many as five countries, although this is hardly common.
Why would a person need or want to be a citizen of more than one country? In some cases it may be simply a matter of cultural attachment. Some individuals who live in one country but were raised in another may see dual citizenship as a way of connecting with their heritage. For others, dual citizenship may be a matter of convenience: holding more than one passport can make travel easier when a country places restrictions on visitors from certain countries. Still others, having more unsavory motives, see dual citizenship as a way to evade the law; fugitives from one country with passports from another could theoretically travel on their “safe” passports.
The truth is that most people do not even know that dual nationality exists, and of those who do, their knowledge is limited. A visit to the Internet can yield all manner of incorrect information about dual nationality and why it is either a dream come true or a terrible nightmare. What people need to know about dual nationality, first and foremost, is that only information that comes directly from government sources can be considered accurate. That said, it is important to remember that regulations and restrictions can change and that each nation’s government has the right to set its own requirements for citizenship.