Over the years, we’ve dealt with many people looking to go where they are treated best with the help of our holistic strategies.
Citizenship planning is a significant part of our process. Having dealt with as many people as we have, we’ve realized one thing – the idea of getting second citizenship is still doused in many myths and misconceptions.
You’d be amazed at how many people don’t know how citizenships work even though they’ve had one or more all their life.
For most people, citizenship is something they’ve had since birth and never had a reason to know more about it.
The matter only comes up when they plan to travel, run for public office, or go for a second residency or citizenship.
At this point, they have many concerns and questions regarding the immigration process, citizenship, passports, and everything in between.
We’ve always done our best to address people’s concerns and guide them toward their best options through our advice.
So here’s one piece of advice before we move forward to the crux of the article.
Get a Passport
No, we are not talking about getting a second passport. Although, you should do that too.
Here, we are talking about getting the passport of the country you’re currently living in as a citizen.
For example, get a US passport if you have United States citizenship.
If your passport is expired or will soon expire, get it renewed immediately. Many countries require passport validity of one month, three months, or even more to grant you entry.
It’s crucial that you have a passport of the country you’re a citizen of.
Why? Because regardless of your citizenship, your travel freedom is still restricted if you don’t own a passport.
Citizenship alone will rarely do you any favors when you want to leave a country at a moment’s notice. What you’ll need is a valid passport.
In the pandemic, and even after that, we’ve seen many countries slow down their passport issuing and renewal process, leaving millions of people confined to places they don’t want to be.
As a citizen of a country, you are entitled to its passport.
So, don’t wait around – get a passport.Before we dive into how to avoid losing your citizenship, let’s clear up one more misconception about citizenship and passports.
Difference between a Citizenship and a Passport
Many misconceptions we see dealing with our clients stem from being confused between a passport and citizenship.
So let’s briefly explain the two before we move forward.
Passport – Government-Issued Official Travel Document
A passport is an official travel document issued by a government that verifies its holder’s identity and citizenship.
A passport allows a person to travel internationally and access consular assistance in a foreign country.
If you do not have the passport of the country of your citizenship, it doesn’t mean that you are no longer a citizen of that country.
It only means that your international traveling options are highly limited, especially if you only have one citizenship.
In essence, the absence of a passport doesn’t translate to losing citizenship. It only translates to losing most of your travel freedom.
Citizenship – A Relationship between a Person and a State
Unlike a passport, a tangible official travel document, citizenship is a relationship between a person and a state in which the state gives a person certain rights.
In return, the person has to abide by state laws.
Following are the ways you can become a citizen of a country:
- Citizenship by Birth
- Citizenship by Naturalization
- Citizenship by Investment
- Citizenship by Descent
- Citizenship by Exception
- Citizenship by Marriage
Birthright Citizenship and citizenship by naturalization are the two methods most people are aware of.
For example, if you are born in the US, you automatically become a US citizen.
Moreover, if you have been a permanent US resident for the past three or five years (among other requirements), you can become a naturalized citizen of the US.
For the most part, naturalized citizens enjoy the same privileges as natural-born citizens of a country.
We recently had a Brazilian client who moved to Canada, became a Canadian citizen, and owned a Canadian passport.
They were under the false impression that they must’ve lost their Brazilian citizenship because they hadn’t had a Brazilian passport for a long time.
Citizenships don’t work that way.
You can be a citizen of a country without having a passport.
In essence, citizenship is something you have (by birthright, naturalization, etc.), and a passport is something you’re entitled to as a country’s citizen.
This article will tell you all about how you can lose your citizenship and what you can do to avoid it.
How Can You Get Your Citizenship Revoked – Voluntarily or Not
To know how to avoid getting your citizenship revoked, first, you have to know the ways you can lose your citizenship.
One of the reasons that people prefer second citizenship over the second residency is the lack of maintenance associated with it.
Generally, you don’t have to do much to maintain your citizenship since it’s nearly impossible to lose it.
Still, there are some ways through which you can lose your citizenship, either voluntarily or not.
How Can You Get Your Citizenship Revoked
You can lose your citizenship if you voluntarily renounce it. A person might renounce their citizenship to get another citizenship.Many of our clients have renounced their previous citizenships to dramatically reduce their taxes, get more travel freedom, or go where they are treated best.
You can lose your citizenship based on your conduct or if you are found guilty of committing fraud in the naturalization process.
Fraud can mean anything from lying on your naturalization application to participating in a paper marriage to gain citizenship of a country.
For example, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) views paper marriages as a federal crime, for which you can be tried in a federal court.
Lying about anything from your real identity to your criminal record can denaturalize you.
In essence, if it gets proved that you procured naturalization illegally, you can lose your citizenship.
Countries worldwide have different criteria for revoking citizenship based on moral misconduct.
The criteria may also differ depending on whether you are a naturalized or natural-born citizen.
The United States government can revoke a naturalized citizen’s citizenship if they are found to be a terrorist, war criminal, sex offender, or fraudster.
The UK government can withdraw a person’s citizenship for the public good or if a citizen’s actions are against state interests.
The Belgian government can revoke the citizenship of naturalized dual nationals sentenced to more than five years in prison for a terrorism offense.
Countries like the Netherlands and France can revoke citizenship based on treason or disloyalty.
A criminal record will get you in hot water almost everywhere.
Even the countries that don’t throw you out because of your criminal activities can lock you up, take away your passport, or refuse to issue you a new one.
Military Service for a Foreign State
Over 75 countries worldwide, including the US and many EU countries, can withdraw your citizenship if you enter military service in a foreign country.
Different countries have different criteria when it comes to revoking citizenship for military service in a foreign state.
Alternatively, some countries can grant you citizenship through military service.
If you enter foreign military service and fall in any of the categories mentioned below, your country may revoke your citizenship:
- You are a dual national
- You are fighting for a declared terrorist organization.
- You are a naturalized citizen.
- You are fighting for an enemy state.
- You are fighting for a foreign army in active conflict with your country.
Acquiring Another Citizenship
Many countries allow dual citizenship, including the US and the UK, but not every country wants to share its citizens.
If you belong to a country that doesn’t allow dual citizenship, you may lose your citizenship when you get another one.
Similarly, some countries require you to renounce your previous citizenship before becoming their citizen.
If you are knee bent on getting a second passport while belonging to a country that doesn’t allow dual citizenship, make sure to get a passport that is more flexible than the one you already have in terms of second citizenship, so you don’t have to choose between nationalities again.
Some Other Ways You Can Lose Your Citizenship
- Prolonged residence abroad
- Running for public office in a foreign country.
- Loss of citizenship by parents
- Adoption by a foreigner
- Failure to choose preferred citizenship by a certain age
How to Avoid Getting Your Citizenship Revoked
While this is generally good advice, it especially applies to your naturalization process.
You may denaturalize whether your lie is discovered on the spot or later.
Be as truthful as possible about your criminal history.
It’s better to be rejected at the start of the process than to be dragged into a legal procedure later with severe consequences.
And, of course, don’t be a terrorist.
Get Professional Help
Whether you are acquiring citizenship or renouncing it, you should always reach out to professionals to help you through the process.
At Nomad Capitalist, we have a team of offshore strategists and attorneys who are well versed in all things citizenship.
Going through the naturalization process can be pretty overwhelming – going through a denaturalization process is another story altogether.Having an experienced team on your side can be the very thing that makes it all easy for you.
Stay on Top of Things
Few things are as variable as immigration policies.
Some countries that revoke citizenship based on military service for a foreign state have made an exception for their people joining the Ukrainian army.
Following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in 2015, former French President François Hollande proposed taking away citizenship of French citizens (even by birth) if they were linked to terrorist activities.
The proposition was never made law, but you can see how easy it is for the governments to change your reality as you know it.
In countries like the UK, there are even talks about a new law that will make it possible for the government to revoke a person’s citizenship without informing them.
Countries are making it harder for their citizens to get second citizenship or move to another country for a better future.
Not granting a passport, canceling dual citizenship, or making you choose between citizenships are all different ways of serving the same purpose – making you immobile and limiting your options.
Your best option is to get a Plan B before you fall victim to the next government regulation.
Get a second residency or acquire a second citizenship and expand your options in a world that seems to be getting restrictive by the minute.
Can You Lose Your Citizenship?
Yes, you can. It’s uncommon but not impossible.
If you are a natural-born citizen of a country, the chances of getting your citizenship taken away are rare.
You also have nothing to worry about if you are a naturalized citizen who hasn’t lied in their naturalization process on paper or orally.
Will your country make it easy for you to move overseas in the future? No one can say.
However, the opposite seems to be true if you observe the global trend.
Many of our clients had dodged a bullet (or several) by moving overseas before things worsened, and they loved it.
Getting a second passport has enabled them to expand their options and live the life they truly wanted.
You can do it, too – all you have to do is reach out to us, and we’ll take care of the rest.