Today, I was reading a very interesting article in the Palm Beach Post online edition, entitled “With U.S. in slump, dual citizenship in EU countries attracts Americans.” The article was basically about the fact that a recent trend in the USA is that Americans are seeking dual citizenship from European countries where their parents or grandparents came from. I found it a pretty interesting read.
One of the keys that is driving this trend, according to the article is the European Union (EU). Apparently, if a person can obtain (or re-obtain) citizenship in an EU country, they are then qualified to live and work in any other EU country. For example, one of the people that they wrote about in the story was an American lady who, based on the former citizenship of her parents, is in the process of obtaining citizenship in Romania. Since Romania is now part of the EU, this lady can, after acquiring Romanian citizenship, live and work in any EU country. This includes places like the UK, France, Germany and such.
According to the article, it is estimated that around 40 million Americans are eligible to become citizens of European countries, all the while retaining their American citizenship as well! A lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon of becoming “world citizens” and expanding their prospects.
It seems that, while the USA tends to discourage dual citizenship (they do not publicize that it is legal to be a dual citizen), a court case in 1967 settled the issue. In that year, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Afroyim vs. Rusk that it is unconstitutional to bar dual citizenship. So, due to this ruling, people can acquire citizenship from other countries, while still keeping their US citizenship as well.
This all relates to the Philippines too. A few years ago, a dual citizenship law was put into place here. Former Philippine citizens can now re-acquire their citizenship by simply filing a form with the Philippine Government. By filing this form, the Filipino re-acquires the rights that he had as a Philippine Citizenship, and also keeps the citizenship of the country where he/she was naturalized.
What about foreigners who live in the Philippines? Well, this is an issue that I’ve gone back and forth on. Legally, in order to acquire Philippine citizenship, you must renounce the citizenship that you currently hold. However, as an American, it is very difficult to renounce your US Citizenship. Simply pledging that you renounce the citizenship does not rid you of US Citizenship. Thus, technically, you cannot become a Philippine Citizen, because you cannot just renounce your US Citizenship (you can renounce, but it is not simple to do, so for the purpose of this article, I am simply saying that you cannot renounce). However, in practice, just saying “I renounce” is enough to be granted Philippine Citizenship (provided that you meet the other criteria), at the same time, your simply act of saying “I renounce” is not enough for the US Government to consider you to have given up your citizenship. Thus, you will become a Dual Citizen.
In the past, I have taken the position that I would not have any interest in acquiring Philippine Citizenship. At least one regular reader here has the intention of doing so, though. I will say, also, that over the past few months, I have been toying with the idea of acquiring Philippine Citizenship, though. I see a few advantages to doing so, and no real downsides to it. Of course, I would retain my US Citizenship as well, and thus be a Dual Citizen. I already qualify to become a Philippine Citizen, and I may go forward with the process soon. It is not an easy thing to qualify for either. A few of the requirements:
- The foreigner must have resided in the Philippines for a minimum of 10 years (reduced to 5 years if his spouse is a Filipino). During this time, the person must have remained in the Philippines. In other words, if you live here for 4 years, and go abroad for a week, then return, the clock starts over again, and you must wait for a continuous stay of 5 years before applying (or a continuous stay of 10 years if you are not married to a Filipino).
- The foreigner must be able to read, write and speak one of the Philippine languages.
- There are other qualifications (like age, good moral character, etc.) but the first two listed above are the ones that are most difficult to meet.
So, I meet all of the qualifications for Naturalization and obtaining Citizenship in the Philippines. When I think about it, I feel that I am proud of the Philippines, it is my home, and I love the country. Thus, I see no reason not to obtain citizenship here. Yes, I have turned around 180 degrees on this question, because in the past, I would not have even considered it. However, at this time, I see no reason not to do it, and I also see some advantages to doing it. One of the biggest advantages in my mind is that I love the country, I am at home here, and I have some feeling that I wish to make it more “official” if you know what I mean.
OK, having thought this over, I am now ready to state flatly that I will soon be applying to become a Citizen of the Philippines. The process takes about a year to complete (or maybe a bit more). I will keep you posted as I go through the process, though.
What do you think?