In our globalised world, people migrate and wish to settle in a different country than their birth country. Dual citizenship is simply the act of being a citizen of two countries at the same time.
Where a person is born provides citizenship of that country. The nationality of a person’s parents may provide dual citizenship by birth. However, a person may apply for citizenship via legal process in another country that they move to.
Is dual citizenship allowed in the United Kingdom?
The UK does allow dual citizenship, meaning you are allowed to retain your birth nationality as well as applying for another. However China, for example, does not recognise a second nationality. The state could see an application for citizenship in another country as renouncing Chinese citizenship altogether. It is very important to check the specific rules that apply in your home country, if you also wish to apply for and hold British citizenship.
Advantages to dual citizenship
Applying for citizenship in that country is a long process. However having dual nationality can give many advantages to the holder. They are:
- Political rights
- Right of Abode
- British Passport
- Cultural Education
As a citizen of any country, you then receive full social and political rights. You may vote and be voted on in any election. If you have dual citizenship, you will have the same rights as other British citizens.
Voting rights are also given to Irish citizens and Commonwealth citizens that have leave to remain in the UK. Hong Kong nationals who hold a British National Overseas passport are also eligible.
EU citizens can only vote in local elections except for some EU nations such as Cyprus and Malta that are able to vote in national elections as well.
Obtaining a British passport can make travelling to certain countries easier. It could make travelling cheaper or just easier at the airport. Depending on a persons birth country, having a an additional British passport may open up new travel options without having to obtain a visa, or at least with fewer restrictions.
You may also be able to stay longer in any given country if you are the holder of a British passport. Therefore you could plan longer trips or even work remotely for a time from another country with more ease.
When travelling with dual passports it’s important to remember when travelling to one of your own countries, to use the correct corresponding passport to avoid any confusion. If you are travelling to a third country without citizenship, you could use either passport to travel on that potentially grants you the best access.
Since the UK leaving the European Union at the end of 2020 was marked also by the end of free movement, the British passport no longer allows visa-free travel throughout the EU. Despite this, having a British passport after Brexit means citizens can still visit for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.
Right of abode
Perhaps the most exciting element to dual citizenship is being able to live in Britain and have full access to state support, education, healthcare and more. If you are over 18 years old, you can also stand for public office.
For example, a young person could then get access to education at top British institutions without paying the much higher fees that international students must pay.
As a dual citizen, you can benefit from the cultures of two countries. You can become fully immersed in another way of life and even become fluent in another language. Becoming a citizen could make you feel much more at home and able to engage fully with your community.
Overall, having dual citizenship can be a very powerful tool and can bring with it some incredible advantages. If you’ve been residing in the UK for at least five years, with Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months, you could be eligible to apply for British citizenship via naturalisation. If you’re married to a British citizen, in some circumstances, you could be eligible after three years of residency.
You won’t be subject to any immigration restrictions and can have absences from the country of any length. While the process can be long, the positive benefits attained from citizenship can make it worthwhile for many applicants.