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Dual-Citizenship Planning for Future Children
December 13, 2005 8:33 AM   Subscribe

My fiancee (soon to be wife) and I are planning on getting pregnant in 2006. Because we are smart people we have discussed the possibility of having the child born in a foreign country (we are both American) which would give him or her the advantage of dual-citizenship.

Is this a good idea? What are the disadvantages? Given the disturbing direction the U.S. is going, we want our children to have the maximum number of opportunities available to them in the future. We have discussed Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada. What other countries should we be looking at should we decide to go ahead with this? Are there any countries that deny dual-citizenship to Americans born on their soil?

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posted by anonymous to Law & Government (45 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Any member of the EU; your child will be able to live and work anywhere there. Australia is nice if you want to be able to live and work there, or in New Zealand (and vice versa), but not as much bang-per-buck as EU.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2005


Your grown child will be rejected for many USA gov't security clearances with dual-citizenship.

This is a tiny percentage of the future job opportunities your child may have, but just thought I'd throw an example out there.
posted by poppo at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2005


I'd be worried about the cost and availability of health care wherever I went, and possible medical problems involving a hospital stay longer than the standard day or two.
posted by orange swan at 9:03 AM on December 13, 2005


If you go with Europe, I recommend Ireland. That said, given the boom in Ireland I know that they are clamping down on delivery=passport claims.

As a widely traveled Paddy it has given me almost trouble-free passage, relative to those of many of my traveling companions over the years.
posted by johoney at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2005


I don't know all the answers to your questions, but reading over the US Citizenship site, one question you should ask yourself is "how will I get identity papers for the child when I return to the USA?"

Seriously. If I travelled with my children, I'd need to show some sort of ID for them upon my return home. How will you get their ID papers? And will your child have to immigrate to return with you?

At this point, I fall back on the old standard of "ask a lawyer". I'm sure a full-time immigaration lawyer knows how to handle this.

Also, if the US is so disturbing, why don't you leave now? Why wait?

(Half of my graduating class from a Canadian university now lives and works in the US, as does my sister, so I can never quite understand Americans who complain about how they're going to leave. It is, in the end, an economic decision and I doubt most Americans will like the job prospects in Canada or New Zealand any better)
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 AM on December 13, 2005


Canada would be easy enough to manage, provided you live close enough to the border. (See also: Mexico? I guess?) However, how in the world would your very-pregnant wife get to Australia/New Zealand, or even England/the EU? While it would be phenomenal for your child to be able to get an EU passport, many airlines have policies against late-term pregnant women flying. Understandably, you don't want her delivering mid-flight!
posted by antifuse at 9:20 AM on December 13, 2005


Er, sorry but being born in most nations does NOT convey citizenship - certainly not in the UK.

Ireland is the only nation in Europe in which this is true, and they are about to change their citizenship laws - they may have already.

Unless I am mistaken, this citizenship situation is pretty much restricted to the US. Even there did it not come about as a result of the 14th Amdt - in other words, to disqualify the arguments made by some after the Civil War that freed slaves should be returned to Africa (not if being born in America means you are citizen they can't.)
posted by A189Nut at 9:27 AM on December 13, 2005


Your grown child will be rejected for many USA gov't security clearances with dual-citizenship.

Can I see some evidence for this? I have dual citizenship and since the US doesn't recognize dual citizenship, they just consider me a US citizen only.

Also, if the US is so disturbing, why don't you leave now? Why wait?

Because it's not that simple. I'm sure if that were the only factor, they'd leave, but life has a million factors built in. They want this as an option. That's why I got my dual citizenship.

It is, in the end, an economic decision and I doubt most Americans will like the job prospects in Canada or New Zealand any better

I think the weather, the lanscape, the people, and a host of other New Zealand factors make up for giving up the "live to work" ethos of America. I guess I should just say that reducing everything to one or two decision making factors, this kind of generalization is just not applicable, GuyZero.

On New Zealand, they're pretty strict about citizenship. My instinct is that you have to be citizens of NZ already for your child to become a NZ citizen even if they're born there. Also, residence for 9+ months would only be possible if you have family there. Unless you want to invest a huge amount of money, or fill one of the other requirements for citizenship yourself.

I applaud you efforts, since I want to do the same thing. I find that Americans are very isolationist, and living in another country for part of your life makes for much better people. Everyone I have met who was raised in another country has just a bigger perspective on the world and more resiliency.
posted by scazza at 9:29 AM on December 13, 2005


Oh and to add to the factors besides jobs that would sway one to want to live in New Zealand, two words: health care.

Everyone gets it for very low cost, or you can get an additional health insurance plan for like $80/year? I can't find the link I read about this , but I do remember being amazed.
posted by scazza at 9:36 AM on December 13, 2005


GuyZero writes "I don't know all the answers to your questions, but reading over the US Citizenship site, one question you should ask yourself is 'how will I get identity papers for the child when I return to the USA?'"

I think the US, like most other countries, accept the registration of any citizen's new born child at consulates and embassies anywhere in the world, so this would not be a problem.
posted by nkyad at 9:39 AM on December 13, 2005


Better hurry...

At present and until the end of 2005, most children born in New Zealand (or in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau) are automatically New Zealand citizens at birth (with few exceptions).

From 1 January 2006, children born in New Zealand (or in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau) will acquire New Zealand citizenship at birth only if at least one of their parents:

* is a New Zealand citizen; or
* has permanent residency (i.e. is entitled to be in New Zealand or Australia indefinitely); or
* is entitled to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Tokelau or Niue.
posted by A189Nut at 9:43 AM on December 13, 2005


There could be problems with security clearances if your future child has dual citizenship, but if it's only because he/she was born outside the U.S., that is considered a mitigating factor.

Besides, if he/she really wants a job that requires a security clearance, and the dual citizenship comes up as an issue, he/she has but to repudiate the foreign citizenship and all will be forgiven.

Of course, the rules/regulations about this sort of thing change all the time, so in the (probably at least twenty) years between now and when it would potentially become a problem for your future child, things could be entirely different.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:45 AM on December 13, 2005


Stop reading this thread and go talk to an immigration lawyer.
posted by aramaic at 9:47 AM on December 13, 2005


It's funny how US citizenship laws seem to this outsider to be both the most liberal (you just have to be born there) and the least liberal (hard to get in and you don't recognise dual citizenship - which incidentally means if you have it you can never fly to America except on your American passport. Try it if you don't believe me...)
posted by A189Nut at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2005


which incidentally means if you have it you can never fly to America except on your American passport. Try it if you don't believe me...

Do you have a story or evidence to support this claim? I have talked to people for whom this was not a problem. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "fly to America." Are you going to get stopped at the gate before you get on the flight?

The idea is that you use your US passport for the faster line into the US, and say, your NZ passport to get you into NZ or Cuba on the other end of the same trip. Usually you just get a dirty look from the desk guy when coming back into the US, where you have to show them where you've been on your other passport (yes, this is happened post-9/11).

The only odd thing I've found about dual-citizenship is that if you are a citizen of a country that doesn't recognize dual citizenship, you are always a citizen of that country. So say I'm in Cuba on my NZ passport, I'm still subject to US laws/policies governing Americans in Cuba. My NZ passport really only gives me the opportunity to live in that country, and theoretical protection from being identified as an American when travelling.
posted by scazza at 10:06 AM on December 13, 2005


The USA is not hard to get in compared to most countries. Have you seen the citizenship requirements for, say, Switzerland? New Zealand?

Anybody can become a citizen of the USA.
posted by Justinian at 10:10 AM on December 13, 2005


Your grown child will be rejected for many USA gov't security clearances with dual-citizenship.

This is simply not true. The only job your kid will be out of is President as the constitution stands now.

Stop reading this thread and go talk to an immigration lawyer.

That would be a huge waste of money and time. What US immigration lawyer is going to know any more than you could find out about birth and citizenship in a foreign country?

Getting your child proof of US citizenship is fairly easy. Go here for more info.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:12 AM on December 13, 2005


You might run into problems trying to get a gigantically pregnant woman into a foreign country with citizenship by birth, because they've thought of this too and want to discourage it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2005


Pollomacho, I've read direct reports from people who lost their clearances because they were changed from "Must be a US citizen" to "Must not be a citizen of any other country." A very small number, no doubt, and something that could be easily dealt with by formally renouncing the other citizenship, but still not nothing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2005


If I were you I'd just have my baby here, get papers, passport, etc and then get forged documents over there.

I don't think it's at all difficult for young children of U.S. Citizens to immigrate, but it's still required. And they won't be able to run for President.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2005


If it were me I'd want to make it extra exclusive. Like Japan or something.
posted by delmoi at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2005


It's funny how US citizenship laws seem to this outsider to be both the most liberal (you just have to be born there) and the least liberal (hard to get in and you don't recognise dual citizenship - which incidentally means if you have it you can never fly to America except on your American passport. Try it if you don't believe me...)
posted by A189Nut at 9:55 AM PST on December 13 [!]


That's an apt observation, despite the fact that there are countries harder to get full citizenship in than the US.

What's happening here in the US is that we're increasingly placing more and more emphasis on the magical status of full citizenship, while disproportionately eroding the rights of noncitizens -- for example, by deporting noncitizens who've been here legally for decades, just because they get in a bar fight or hop a subway turnstile or something. Seen this way, it is irrational that all it takes to become a citizen -- that super-protected status -- is the accident of birth on US soil.

But US birthright citizenship, which comes from the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, actually contains a very important ideal of equality: the 14th Amendment was enacted after the Civil War, and the Citizenship Clause was in direct reaction to the fact that US-born blacks were considered legally ineligible for citizenship before the war. It's probably one of the things that makes me most proud to be an American.
posted by footnote at 10:38 AM on December 13, 2005


what are the risks of travellig while pregnant and near end-of-term? i'd worry about that more than whether the richest and most powerful country in the world is going to be good enough for your child (most people in the world would give an appendage or two just to be in your position).

also, dual citizenship does not save you from any obligation like military service - it opens you up to more, since you are beholden to two countries.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:41 AM on December 13, 2005


Just to add to what A189Nut said, yeah, our law in New Zealand is changing soon. I personally disapprove, since it means that children of refugees for example may end up stateless, which is bad.

However, the reason we're our changing our law to a less humane one is because of the increasing number of people like you. Without any tie or contribution to my country at all, you "smart" people think you can share my and my children's birthright with your offspring, sponging off the healthcare system built with my taxes, and entitling the child to all that mine are. I don't mind donating to helpless people in trouble, but you're bloody freeloaders.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:41 AM on December 13, 2005


doh, a post got eaten. Oops.

You can't give your child citizenship by birth in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. At least not the way you're going to do it (for Germany, you could move there now and have the baby in 8 years...). I looked it up, but now it's all lost.

You could do this in Canada, but unless they repeal NAFTA, there is only a marginal benefit to being a dual US/Canada citizen versus simply getting work authorization and/or migrating via landed immigrant status.

scazza, I agree it's a nice idea. My real point was that having known numerous people who left Canada to move to the US, I can only conclude that the US isn't all that bad.
posted by GuyZero at 10:41 AM on December 13, 2005


My brother works the secure phone for a very high level, very high level official in the US government and takes notes during these conversations. He was born in Iran.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2005


Your grown child will be rejected for many USA gov't security clearances with dual-citizenship.

Can I see some evidence for this? I have dual citizenship and since the US doesn't recognize dual citizenship, they just consider me a US citizen only.


See E2.A3 of this DoD document

You'll find similar passages in the corresponding docs of the other Departments. It doesn't say that dual-citizens must be rejected because because of this, but trust me, they are.
posted by poppo at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2005


Pollomacho:This is simply not true.

I see you're from DC, as am I. You must be familiar with security clearances yourself and/or folks you know with security clearances.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but do you know anyone with a security clearance who has a dual-citizenship? I don't. On the other hand, I do have a good friend who was rejected because of his dual-citizenship (USA-Australia).
posted by poppo at 10:50 AM on December 13, 2005


And by the way, I'm not saying that there are not foreign nationals, non-citizens, dual-citizens, etc who do not have a security clearance. I'm just saying the dual-citizen average Joe (like me) would be rejected.
posted by poppo at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2005


Yeah, there isn't much value in being a Canadian citizen by birth in addition to being an American, since it's not very hard for Americans to immigrate there if they so choose.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2005


What's all this about not being President? The Constitution only says one must be "a natural born Citizen". If the kid is born to American parents, would s/he not be "a natural born Citizen"? (I'm really asking, am I wrong here?)*

I don't know if it will help in your case, but maybe look into your ancestors. One of my friends swears he's got Irish dual-citizenship through his native-Irish grandfather or something. If that was ever true, I'm sure it's been tightened significantly, but you never know...

I'm still not sure I agree with this idea in the least, for all the reasons everyone said above. Seems to me that if America gets too bad for you or junior in the future... just emigrate then. But it's your (and your child's) life.

*I can't believe I've cited the Constitution twice in 24 hours on AskMe.
posted by SuperNova at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2005


what are the risks of travellig while pregnant and near end-of-term?

Many people have been bringing up the end of term flight and I just want to point out that she'd have to fly early in her preganancy or before she's pregnant at all for a number of reasons:

First, what ROU_Xenophobe has mentioned, keeping freeloaders out.

Second, they'd have to find permamnent residency and housing, and third a doctor to take her on. These are very important factors. Most likely they'd have to move there before pregnancy to get settled. This would entail attaining permanent resident status via a job or family, since they'd then be there for a around a year at minimum.

It is said that the child shares in all the emotions of the mother; can you imaging the stress put on a late term baby with the anxiety of moving to another country, being separated from your support system of extended family and friends, exacerbated by all the hormones of pregnancy, just as its brain is beginning to develop (after the 22nd week)?
posted by scazza at 11:08 AM on December 13, 2005


If the kid is born to American parents, would s/he not be "a natural born Citizen"?

No, though it's never been directly contested in the Supreme Court.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2005


Yeah, there isn't much value in being a Canadian citizen by birth in addition to being an American, since it's not very hard for Americans to immigrate there if they so choose.

The main advantage I can think of is that Canada can't deport you if you're a dual citizen.
posted by oaf at 11:42 AM on December 13, 2005


The main advantage I can think of is that Canada can't deport you if you're a dual citizen.

Or, if you're convicted on fraud charges, you can ask for a transfer back to a Canadian prison.

Maybe the Bahamas is a good choice, though you have to give up your other citizenship... at least they have attractive tax laws.
posted by GuyZero at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2005


This from Trailfinders.com - it is the law, I assure you.


US dual nationality
If you were born in the USA you are automatically entitled to a US passport. Even if you hold dual nationality with another country you must travel to the USA on your US passport otherwise you'll be denied boarding.
posted by A189Nut at 12:38 PM on December 13, 2005


And this from another travel agent

"Any British Citizen born in the USA, even where they have a dual nationality, must travel on their US passport (even if they have never lived in the United States)."

I am certain this does NOT just apply to dual nationality with Britain.
posted by A189Nut at 12:40 PM on December 13, 2005


This is an article on how nationality is determined.

You have to look for a country that is jus soli and not jus sanguinis .

Make sure that you agree with the law of the country you choose. I have a friend who has a son with Turkish dual citizenship. He now has to serve in the Turkish army while he does not even speak a word Turkish because under Turkish law there is still a draft. Know that serving in a foreign army will make you possible loose your US citizenship
posted by kudzu at 12:43 PM on December 13, 2005


I really think it's not a good idea. It's unethical (see i_am_joes_spleen's answer) and you will most likely find it difficult to travel close to the baby's due date. Your best bet would be to choose a country and emigrate there. Or if you don't want to, encourage your child to emigrate when s/he's old enough.
posted by nomis at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2005


I thought this might be considered noise until I re-read the first question: "Is this a good idea?" No. Because you are "smart people"? The idea is rude, thoughtless, selfish (projected onto your future child!), immature, and wasteful.

(This coming from someone who is tickled pink that his son will be a dual French-American citizen, just as his mother is and someone who has never been happy with the "distrubing direction" of US policies and culture. But I do still love it here and there, really.)

PS: Best travel time for pregnancy is the second trimester. Best travel time for newborn is after 6 weeks but before 12 weeks. (That one I've not tested... yet.)
posted by Dick Paris at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2005


What you are trying to do is reprehensible.
posted by phrontist at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2005


"What you are trying to do is reprehensible" is the new black!
posted by Justinian at 5:05 PM on December 13, 2005


If either of the child's grandmothers is/was Jewish, the baby can get Israeli citizenship.

Children born on Israeli soil are not automatically Israeli citizens; they must have at least one parent who is Israeli too. But Israel's 1950 "Law of Return" says any Jew--"Jew" defined as a person 1) with a Jewish mother and 2) who has never formally converted to another religion--can become an Israeli citizen minutes after stepping off the plane in Israel. (See also)

Ergo, one Jewish grandma = one Israeli baby.

Of course, the kid will have to renounce the citizenship on its 18th birthday or else be called up for military training if they ever enter the country. But on the other hand, they, too, have semi-socialized health care.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:20 PM on December 13, 2005


Regarding the issue of presidency: Pollomacho is correct that this has never been decided by the Supreme Court, and it is arguably still an open question. However, from what I've seen, the most likely resolution is that somebody who is born to two American citizens is a "natural-born Citizen" (and therefore eligible to be elected president) whether she was born on US soil or elsewhere.

Some American friends of ours had a child while living in London and we actually researched this for them.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services,
Generally, people are born U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States or if they are born to U.S. citizens:

(1) By being born in the United States

If you were born in the United States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), you are an American citizen at birth (unless you were born to a foreign diplomat). Your birth certificate is proof of your citizenship.

(2) Through birth abroad to TWO United States citizens

In most cases, you are a U.S. citizen if ALL of the following are true:
Both your parents were U.S. citizens when you were born; and
At least one of your parents lived in the United States at some point in their life.
Your record of birth abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy, is proof of your citizenship. You may also apply for a passport to have your citizenship recognized. If you need additional proof of your citizenship, you may file a Form N-600, "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" to get a Certificate of Citizenship. You may download the form by clicking here, or you may call the USCIS Forms Line at 1(800) 870-3676 to request a Form N-600.
Speaking of the UK, it is another country where just being born here does not grant you citizenship unless your parents are permanent residents. However, if your son is born on English soil and grows up to be a soccer superstar, I'm pretty sure they'd let him play for England in the World Cup.
posted by yankeefog at 7:01 AM on December 14, 2005


Your grown child will be rejected for many USA gov't security clearances with dual-citizenship.

Can I see some evidence for this? I have dual citizenship and since the US doesn't recognize dual citizenship, they just consider me a US citizen only.
It's overstated, but even though the U.S. doesn't recognize dual citizenship if you claim it certain government agencies will be more suspicious of your application. The NSA for instance has that as one of their FAQs as an example. It doesn't mean they won't hire you but they want to be very sure that your first priority is the U.S.
posted by substrate at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2006


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