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Pros and Cons

Along with the legal aspects of dual citizenship are the practical ones; there are also ethical considerations. Should people be allowed to claim more than one nationality? If not, why not? There are legitimate arguments on both sides.

People who favor the existence of dual citizenship explain that it can be useful to people traveling through countries in which one nationality is more welcome than another. The rise around the world in anti-American sentiment has a number of people genuinely concerned that an American passport could actually endanger the life of its holder. On a less ominous note, having a second nationality may make it easier for people to work abroad. Someone with dual citizenship in the United States and any European Union country, for example, could work in any European Union nation without having to secure permits.

For some, the issue is as simple as money. Belize, a small Caribbean nation known mostly for its beaches, initiated an Economic Citizenship Program that grants Belizean citizenship to anyone willing to pay the equivalent of $50,000. This “purchase” of nationality (which does not require renunciation of a former nationality) allows the new Belizean to reap the benefits of a lenient tax law structure that does not collect taxes on capital gains, estates, or money earned overseas.

Those who oppose the concept of dual citizenship say that it is antithetical to the ideal of loyalty to one’s homeland. Citizenship is a privilege, they argue. In many countries, it is a privilege for which people fought and gave their lives. If citizenship requirements are eased too much, opponents of dual nationality say, eventually the concept of citizenship will have little or no meaning. Citizenship connotes a powerful emotional bond for many that should not be taken lightly. Those who may not feel this way may instead recognize the more pressing concern that becoming a dual national could mean having to serve in a foreign country’s armed services or pay taxes to its government.

Dual nationals need to remember that they are subject to the laws of both countries. That may include some benefits, but it also may include tax and military responsibilities. This does not mean that a dual national living in the United States will be required to travel to the other country in which he holds citizenship to serve in the army there. If, however, he visits that country, the government may have the legal right to compel him to serve out his military obligation if there is one.

Inside Pros and Cons