If a person holds ‘dual citizenship’, they have citizenship of two nations at the same time. However, as we will see, this is not permitted in some countries. It must be remembered that citizenship comes with benefits and obligations. So, while a person may hold citizenship in two or more countries, and enjoys the benefits of each, they may also have to adhere to specific tax laws or fulfil requirements for national service.
If you are considering applying for citizenship in the UK, you might be pleased to know that the UK does not place restrictions on the number of concurrent citizenships you hold.
There is no requirement to apply for ‘dual citizenship’ status in the UK; rather, this will happen by virtue of holding citizenship of two nations at the same time.
If you have moved to the UK from another country, there are a number of ways in which you may be eligible for British citizenship, these include:
By marriage or civil partnership to a British citizen
Having held ILR or Permanent Residence for 12 months
If you have held ILR for one year, you should then be able to apply for British citizenship. Permanent residence is the scheme that predates the EU Settlement Scheme (see below), and allows EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who have been exercising their treaty rights in the UK (i.e. work, study, be self-employed, or self-sufficient) to secure the right to reside permanently free of immigration control after five years. Under the permanent residence route, if you have already been in the UK for six years because this status is automatically acquired after five years, you will be eligible for citizenship immediately once you apply for and receive a residence card. It should be noted, however, that residence cards will cease to be valid from the end of 2020, when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.
Having held EU settled status for 12 months
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens currently living in the UK have until 30th June 2021 to apply for the right to reside under the EU Settlement Scheme. Under this scheme, there is no need to have been exercising treaty rights in the UK to be eligible. It is important to understand the difference between pre-settled and settled status which may be awarded. When applying, the Home Office will grant pre-settled status if they believe you have not yet been in the UK for five years, or full settled status if you have been here for five years or more. Pre-settled status only provides a limited right to remain in the UK, and cannot be used as a basis for applying for citizenship. You will need to have full settled status and have been in the UK for a further year before you can apply for British citizenship.
Other eligibility requirements for UK citizenship
To apply for UK citizenship, you will also need to be 18 years or over, had no absences from the UK of 90 days in the past year or 450 days in the past five years, meet the English language requirement, and pass a Life in the UK test. You must also be of good character and intend to make the UK your main place of abode.
As we have established, many countries do not allow dual citizenship. It is, therefore, important to check the rules which pertain to the countries in which you hold citizenship. If you are considering applying for UK citizenship, you will need to understand how doing so will affect your existing citizenship/s.
Some countries permit their nationals to hold UK citizenship concurrently without restriction, some impose specific requirements, and for others, you may lose citizenship automatically.
Many EU countries allow their citizens to also hold UK citizenship, however, some prohibit or restrict dual citizenship, including the Netherlands, Estonia, Austria, Lithuania, and Norway. For citizens of Slovakia, dual citizenship is allowed by birth or through marriage, and citizens of Austria can apply for permission to retain their citizenship prior to taking a second one (although it is possible this will not be permitted leading to loss of citizenship in Austria).
Countries that do not permit dual citizenship with the UK include Japan, Singapore, Iran, Mexico, China, India, and Chile.
Under UK law, there is no limitation on the number of concurrent citizenships held by its citizens. You will not be required by the UK to renounce any existing citizenship when applying for British naturalisation. It is important to check with each country with which you hold citizenship whether UK citizenship is permitted and whether there is any potential conflict that may arise from holding multiple citizenships. This can be a complex matter, and it is recommended you seek the expertise of an immigration Solicitor who will be able to confirm whether the mix of citizenship you will hold is in your best interest (e.g. you may have to pay more tax).
Whether it is beneficial for you to hold dual or multiple citizenship will depend on your circumstances and interests. Having two passports can be highly beneficial if you regularly travel between the UK and your home country, as you will not be subject to the same immigration control as non-nationals, meaning you can travel in and out with ease. If you are unsure whether applying for UK citizenship may jeopardise your existing rights in your home country, proceed with caution and check first.
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