Dual citizenship, or Multiple citizenship (as it is technically called), occurs when a person is considered as a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. Dual citizenship as a discussion has been gathering momentum over the previous few years due to a lot of contentious questions involved. In a recent issue, noted but controversial painter MF Hussain abdicated Indian citizenship when he was awarded Qatari nationality.
This article is an attempt to answer a few questions regarding dual citizenship. I have compiled it in the form of frequently asked questions, so that most of the queries regarding this issues are answered.
Citizenship is the state of being a member of a well defined social or political group or community. In modern times, it is primarily understood in the terms of being a citizen of a particular country or state. Even this concept is undergoing a change – for example – in European Union, a person will be called the citizen of his/her respective country, and a citizen of the EU as well, and enjoy the right to move freely within member countries of the Union.
What is Dual or Multiple Citizenship?
Dual citizenship. or Multiple citizenship arises when a person holds the citizenship of two or more countries at the same time. It is interesting to note that a person can be a citizen of two or more countries, none of which is the country of his or her birth. There have been cases like this (A French citizen, who was originally a Haitian citizen, later went on to become the Canadian Governor General, and of course, a Canadian citizen).
How can a person acquire Dual citizenship?
The term ‘acquires’ is actually a misnomer. A citizenship should be understood in the terms of a privilege that a country bestows, it is not ‘acquired’ as a matter of right. A person may become a citizen of any country on fulfillment of certain conditions. These conditions may differ from country to country, and there is no global uniformity regarding how a person becomes a citizen of any country. A person may become a citizen of any particular country by -
- birth on territory of that country
- being born of parents, of whom at least one is the citizen of that country
- marriage with a citizen
- naturalization – you live there long enough, and they will accept you as a citizen (subject to fulfillment of conditions – not applicable to illegal aliens)
- making financial investments in that country (Austria, USA, St. Kitts, etc).
What are the issues relating to grant of Dual citizenship?
There are so many issues involved in the concept of dual citizenship that only a handful of countries allow this. Most of the governments actively discourage dual or multiple citizenship. Some of the major issues involved with dual or multiple citizenship are -
- whether the person will be under foreign influence
- whether the person will have a foreign preference
- whether the person have the full security clearance
What are the rights of a dual citizen?
A Dual citizen is entitled to all the rights that are available to the ‘normal’ citizens of the respective countries. This includes the rights to vote and run for a public office (for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger – who is an American citizen and the Governor of California, retains his original Austrian citizenship).
Can Dual citizenship be revoked? How?
Actually, a person will be a citizen of at least one country at any given time. Therefore, ‘revocation of dual citizenship’ is actually not possible. What is possible, as happened in the case of MF Hussain, is that when you are granted a citizenship of another nation, and you are willing to accept it, you will have to give up your current citizenship. Since most countries countries consider the possession of the passport of that country as a conclusive proof of citizenship, you will need to surrender the passport of your original country. A majority of the countries follow this track.
Is dual citizenship allowed in India?
NO. There is no provision for Dual Citizenship in the Indian constitution and law. However, there is a new form of Indian nationality that has been designed in the recent years, called the Overseas Citizens of India. However, this does not bestow Indian citizenship to such class of persons.
There is also an exception to this condition regarding dual nationality in India. It will be easier to understand that by way of an example – If a child is born to Indian parents in the USA, that child will be an Indian citizen, till he/she acquires a US passport. The child will also be a US citizen, since US bestows citizenship to all those born on its territory. But this is actually a moot point, since the child cannot travel outside the US without a US passport. The moment a US passport is issued, the Indian citizenship ceases to exist.
To the readers -
These were a few of the broadest and most common questions regarding dual citizenship. If you have any other points that you can suggest, I will gladly add them here. If you have any additional questions, I will try my best to answer them right here. If you have any other comments to share, I will be very happy to receive your feedback.