While the world becomes increasingly focused on globalisation and countries work together to increase their trading power and security, each country also maintains its own borders and policies to deal with wanted and unwanted immigration. In some circumstances, you might find that you need to navigate these systems in order to live and work in a country other than the one you were born in.
This can be difficult for those who may feel a strong connection to their country of birth. For those people, the idea of leaving their country of origin and making a permanent move to a new one can feel like a loss of connection. In those circumstances, however, it’s worth finding out if you’re one of the people eligible for dual citizenship.
For someone holding dual citizenship to their home nation, this legal link can help them to feel that the connection hasn’t been severed, and this can manifest itself in a few different ways.
Dual citizenship’s primary benefit is that it allows the holder to travel freely between more than one country. Without this, operating between two countries would be a much more complex legal process involving multiple visas and a constant need to renew them. As such, dual citizenship simplifies what could otherwise be a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive set of travel and living arrangements. This benefit, of course, is highly dependent on your personal circumstances and how much time you’ll spend living and working in the UK and your country of origin.
In real terms, holding dual citizenship allows you all the same entitlements as someone who simply becomes a British citizen. You’ll be eligible for a British passport and will be able to access public funds. This means that should you run into any difficulties, such as a loss of employment or injury which makes working impossible, you would be eligible to claim state benefits until you were able to return to work. Additionally, you would have access to medical treatment through the NHS without the need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge.
Of course, not all countries are open to the possibility that their citizens may wish to hold citizenship of another nation alongside theirs. In these cases, you would need to renounce the citizenship of your home country in order to naturalise within the UK. The list of countries that, by default, don’t allow dual citizenship is below.
Andorra Georgia Netherlands Ukraine
Austria India Nepal United Arab Emirates
Azerbaijan Indonesia Poland Venezuela
Bahrain Japan Saudi Arabia
China Kazakhstan Slovakia
Djibouti Malaysia Tanzania
Estonia Montenegro Thailand
While the above list does show nations that don’t allow dual citizenship by standard, it doesn’t necessarily mean that gaining dual citizenship with one of them would be impossible. Netherlands and Slovakia, for example, will consider applications for dual citizenship under a specific set of circumstances. In light of this, before you commit to renouncing the citizenship of your country of origin, it’s worth discussing the matter with a specialist immigration law firm. They will be well placed to investigate the possibility of you retaining your original citizenship when applying for permanent residence within the UK.
Retaining dual citizenship may not always be the preferred option for you, however, as there are potential downsides which you may have to navigate. If your employment or business means that you’re living and working between both countries, then you would likely need to navigate the income systems of both nations. This may mean paying taxes in both countries either on your combined income or separately, which can become complicated. You will also need to maintain properties in both countries or find suitable rental accommodations, which could add an additional financial burden which may outweigh the benefits you find.
The good news is that if your country is eligible, and dual citizenship is something you would prefer to hold rather than singular citizenship, then the process is no more complex for you than applying for naturalisation within the UK. The only additional step added to the standard process is that you need to indicate your wish to retain your original citizenship, alongside your new status, on your application for British citizenship.
To summarise, holding dual citizenship can be a huge benefit to someone looking to make a move to the UK while maintaining a connection to their country of origin. While there are some potential downsides to living and working between two separate nations, they can easily be mitigated and balanced by your own personal circumstances.
As always, immigration processes can be tricky. As such, it’s useful to contact an immigration specialist to help ensure that your application is processed effectively and efficiently, and if any issues arise, they can offer expert advice to help you navigate them.
Jake Carver is a writer for the Immigration Advice Service.