What are the benefits of dual citizenship?
March 28, 2013 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm eligible for Canadian citizenship, but what are the benefits? The cons? Real-life examples would be great.

I'm currently an American with PR (Permanent Resident) status in Canada. I'm intrigued by having dual nationality, but aside from not being able to vote, I still receive most of the benefits like everyone else.

I have no plans to renounce my US citizenship but I do have questions. Does this complicate things in terms of potential inheritances? Will it be easier to live outside of Canada without worrying about jeopardizing my residential status? And yes, would this mean I could vote?

As for passports, it seems like a bit of hassle to have to travel with two, but I can get over that.

Thanks!
posted by Kitteh to Law & Government (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you want to run for any political office (I think even to the level of school board in most places), you will need to be a citizen.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 10:52 AM on March 28, 2013


I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. The main benefit, IMO, is the freedom you talk about - if you want to move back to the U.S., or to Turkey or Angola or whatever, you don't have to worry about whether or not you can get back in to Canada. Also the voting and standing for office, which if Canada is your home, it might be nice to have a say in.

As you already know, the U.S. is kind of a jerk about taxes, so you have to report and file even when you live overseas. Canada doesn't make you do that unless you actually live in Canada. So if you were a Canadian considering American citizenship, it might not be worth it, but the direction you're going, you get the annoying tax stuff already. (Caveat: I have no idea about inheritance.)

There are some weird fringe benefits to Canadian citizenship as well. Like, my grandmother is English, so I have the right to live and work in the U.K. Some of those things might apply to you.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:53 AM on March 28, 2013


Two passports can make things easier visa wise and border crossing wise. Travelling as a Canadian in the Middle East for example springs to mind and maybe to the UK, though I'd check that one. My mother travels with 2 passports all the time and it's no hassle you just hand over the right one, and if you make a mistake go oops and then give them the right one as she's often done.

As an Aussie with a green card in the US I am in the same boat as you not quite sure why I should bother with citizenship the main one that sold me was not being deported if something goes horribly wrong and not being able to get back to my family I have here now (not that I foresee doing deportation worthy actions). Voting is also something I'd like to be able to do.
posted by wwax at 10:58 AM on March 28, 2013


the thing is - there may be benefits in the future that you can't possible know about now. For example, up until I was 25, I could have gotten german citizenship, because that's where my parents are from. At the time, it didn't seen worth bothering, I didn't have much interest in living or working in germany. Now, though, it would mean that I had an EU passport, and I ended up working in a field where the jobs tend to move around to different city centers; that extra passport might have given me a lot more job opportunities, if I had had the foresight to get it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:00 AM on March 28, 2013


Are you talking about dual citizenship, which people usually get from their birth circumstances (born in one country to parents from another; derivative citizenship from parents; that sort of thing), or an adult who choses to change their citizenship to another country?

(I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you can chose, as an adult, to become a dual citizen without having it from your birth or derivative from your parents.)
posted by easily confused at 11:01 AM on March 28, 2013


easily confused -- that's not true, at least not anymore. My father, a US citizen, obtained Canadian citizenship later in life, and he now holds both.
posted by cider at 11:02 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


ah. thanks, cider!
posted by easily confused at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2013


Not having to worry about the stupid Canadian PR Card would be enough, I would say.

The only reason my wife is not a Canadian citizen yet is because she would have to (in theory) give up her Japanese citizenship. Not going to happen, but if you can be a dual citizen and jettison the stupid bureaucratic paperwork, why not?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2013


Every now and then a politician likes to play games about citizenship and permanent residency. Your tax situation will not significantly change (unlike the reverse direction), and you won't have any risk of being deported. You also can leave Canada for a while and come back.
posted by jeather at 11:15 AM on March 28, 2013


Passport Canada has a page on the advantages and potential disadvantages of dual citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has similar information too, and a page on the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:02 PM on March 28, 2013


Here is the government site about applying for citizenship.

And below is the government's list of Rights and Responsibilies of citizenship. Besides the tax stuff, which I know nothing about, the other drawback of taking on citizenship would be for a person who doesn't want to take on the moral weight of those responsibilies. Though most aren't legal responsibilities, (except jury duty, and of course, obeying the laws).

Here is a list of the rights on responsibitlies of Canadian citizens- from
Wikipedia:

Rights and responsibilities of citizens

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, citizens are:

Entitled to enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (all persons present in Canada have these rights, regardless of citizenship).
Able to vote in political elections upon reaching the age of 18 (provided they are not absent from Canada for more than 5 years and intend to resume residency in Canada).
Able to run for political office upon reaching the age of 18.
Able to obtain a Canadian passport.
Able to prevent risk of getting deported from Canada (if the subject born outside Canada, but is naturalized).
Able to work for the Federal government (where citizenship is usually required/preferred).
Allowed to live outside Canada indefinitely while retaining the right to return.
Able to pass on Canadian citizenship to children born outside Canada (to the first generation only).

Citizens are responsible for:

Serving on jury when reaching the age of majority, and if selected.
Obeying Canada's laws.
Respecting the rights and freedoms of others.
Helping others in the community.
Caring for and protecting the Canadian heritage and environment.
Eliminating discrimination and injustice.
posted by beau jackson at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2013


For me, it was two things-

1. I was born and raised in Canada, so it meant that I had opportunities to live and work in the US, but that I could move back "home" as it were. This is what I eventually did, but it is likely not such an issue for you (I'm assuming you grew up in the US).

2. HEALTH INSURANCE. When I was living in the US, I had, at various times, no insurance, bad insurance, and good insurance. The system here in Ontario beats all of them hands down, and having dual citizenship meant that it was easy to move back and establish residency. You've already established residency, so again, this is not as much of an issue for you.

The tax thing does suck, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:10 PM on March 28, 2013


Canadian health insurance is actually provincial health insurance, though. Generally you need a 3- to 6-month continuous residency period to get it.
posted by bonehead at 2:39 PM on March 28, 2013


You can legally go to Cuba as a Canadian, but not as a citizen of the Land of the Freeā„¢. I've heard good things. Excellent rum.

Canada doesn't even forbid you from going to North Korea, if that's your idea of a good time.
posted by zjacreman at 4:01 PM on March 28, 2013


You can legally go to Cuba as a Canadian

Not if you're also a U.S. citizen.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2013


Not if you're also a U.S. citizen.

True enough, but it's not like the Cubans are going to blab on you.
posted by zjacreman at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2013


If you move back to the US, have children, and your children decide that they want to move to Canada, they will thank you for having gotten citizenship while you had the chance.

Speaking as someone who can't vote anywhere in the world at the moment, I would say that it behooves you to help choose who runs the country you live in. But easy for me to say, I suppose.
posted by goingonit at 4:44 PM on March 28, 2013


it's not like the Cubans are going to blab on you

They don't have to. The U.S. gets a passenger manifest for pretty much every flight that passes through U.S. airspace as long as it's not between two Canadian or two Mexican airports. This is going to include any flight between Canada and Cuba.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:50 PM on March 28, 2013


OK, I concede that the police state is unstoppable.

My larger point here is that the Canadian social contract is a considerably better deal for average citizens than the US one, and freedom of travel was just an element that nobody had mentioned yet. Locking that deal in with citizenship is probably worth doing, if you're eligible.
posted by zjacreman at 5:25 PM on March 28, 2013


If nothing else, when you travel between Canada and the U.S. you can always stand in the short customs line.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 7:24 PM on March 28, 2013


They don't have to. The U.S. gets a passenger manifest for pretty much every flight that passes through U.S. airspace as long as it's not between two Canadian or two Mexican airports. This is going to include any flight between Canada and Cuba.

The manifest will have your name on it and likely note that you're a Canadian citizen. There is zero way way for the US to find out that you've been to Cuba if you travel on your Canadian passport.

There is no reason not to become a Canadian citizen if you live here. There are many good reasons NOT to take US citizenship as a Canadian (or any other nationality) if you ever plan to depart the US, because the IRS follows you for the rest of your life and your tax obligations follow you as well, unlike virtually every other country in the world. Renouncing US citizenship is a complicated matter and even then the IRS requires you to file for TEN YEARS lest you be labelled a "tax refugee" and be denied entry into the US- forever.

So yes, take Canadian citizenship, it's awesome.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:13 PM on March 28, 2013


Canadian health insurance is actually provincial health insurance, though. Generally you need a 3- to 6-month continuous residency period to get it.

What province requires six months? I've lived in Ontario and Alberta and they both are three months.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:15 PM on March 28, 2013


Dual US/NL passports here. The tax thing is somewhat of a big deal, but a bigger deal are the new banking and asset disclosure rules.

Another issue is the difficulty of maintaining US based accounts abroad, some obvious, like your actual bank account, some not so, like Amazon, iStore, etc.

But on the whole, very glad I and my kids have the option to live in the US or EU.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:41 AM on March 29, 2013


The manifest will have your name on it and likely note that you're a Canadian citizen. There is zero way way for the US to find out that you've been to Cuba if you travel on your Canadian passport.

It includes your date of birth as well. This uniquely identifies a lot of people.

the IRS follows you for the rest of your life and your tax obligations follow you as well, unlike virtually every other country in the world

If you own a home in Canada, the CRA is going to consider you a Canadian resident even if you spend most or all of the tax year somewhere else.

If nothing else, when you travel between Canada and the U.S. you can always stand in the short customs line.

There is no shorter line for citizens at either customs at YYZ.

the difficulty of maintaining US based accounts abroad

This is an issue of residency and not citizenship.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:18 AM on March 29, 2013


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