About 16% of the world's countries, nearly all of them in the Western Hemisphere, grant jus soli citizenship. If a child is born in the territory of one of these countries, say, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, or Canada, boom, he or she is a citizen of that country.
Most of the rest of the world grants jus sanguinis citizenship. Rather than as a result of country of birth, jus sanguinis citizenship is passed through blood relation. That is, the parents' citizenship(s) determines the child's.
So if a child is born in a jus soli country...say, Canada...to parents from jus sanguinis countries...say, a Thai mother and an Irish father...right out of the womb, the newborn would have jus soli citizenship from Canada and jus sanguinis citizenship from Thailand and Ireland. Lucky kid.
Many countries in the Old World extend jus sanguinis rights deeper into the bloodline, beyond parents. With these programs (usually referred to as citizenship by descent or ancestry programs), grandparents, great grandparents, and, in some cases, the deepest family roots you can dig up can qualify you for citizenship.
Although ancestral citizenship is a birthright, it's not completely passive, as you must apply and prove the qualifying family ties before citizenship is granted. Nevertheless, for those who qualify, citizenship through ancestry is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest route to a second citizenship and passport.
Among the most interesting ancestry programs on offer are those from European Union-member countries; holding a passport for one of these nations comes with benefits, including the right to live and work in any of the 27 EU-member nations.
Of the EU-member ancestry naturalization programs, Ireland's is perhaps the best know.
Planning a trip to Brazil? Americans need a visa; Irish nationals do not. Thinking you'd like to live or work in the EU? Good luck, my fellow American. No problem, though, dear citizen of the Emerald Isle. Interested in traveling in the Middle East? In some countries, your blue passport with the eagle on the cover might be a liability, but your red one with the harp on the front won't raise anybody's eyebrows. The luck of the Irish...
For a country of only four million, Ireland's overseas presence is remarkable. In the United States alone, nearly 35 million souls claim some Irish descent. The worldwide number is estimated around 70 million. Ireland recognizes these far-flung sons and daughters with one of the best ancestral citizenship programs around.
If any of your parents or grandparents were born in Ireland, congratulations, you're entitled to Irish citizenship by descent and an EU passport. All you have to do is enter your birth into the Register of Foreign Births and apply for a passport.
You may also be eligible through your great-grandparents, but only if your parent became an Irish citizen by descent before your birth. Because of a change in the law, you might still be eligible if your parent wasn't a citizen but was recorded in the foreign births registry before June 30, 1986, and you were born after July 17, 1956.
To add your birth in the Foreign Births Registry, apply online at www.dfat.ie and send your printed application and the required officially certified copies of supporting documentation to the nearest Irish embassy or consular office, or, if you reside in Ireland, to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.
Editor's Note: Today's essay is excerpted from our just-published "Got A Grandparent? Get A Passport--7 Countries That Offer Citizenship Through Ancestry" report, which is part of our all-new Passport To Freedom: The World's Top Havens For Residency, Citizenship, And A Second Passport program. Full details about all your options to qualify for and claim residency and even a second passport overseas are here.Continue Reading:
Image source: morguefile user Clarita
Until three-and-a-half years ago, Ireland was the easiest and best place for a foreigner to obtain an EU passport. You could apply for an Irish passport if your mother or your grandmother had been Irish (and you had the birth certificate to prove it). You could apply to become Irish after having resided in the country for five years or longer. Or you could be born Irish. Until January 2005, Ireland was one of about three-dozen countries in the world…and the only country in the EU…offering jus soli—that is, rights-of-the-soil citizenship.
Alas, over-immigration caused the Irish to rethink their policies on the matter. Today, it is still possible to apply for an Irish passport based on your Irish maternal lineage…possible, but not as easy as it once was.
It’s also possible still to obtain Irish nationality by residing full-time in the country for five years or longer. Again, though…possible but not so easy anymore. The process is time-consuming and hassle-filled. As I said, it took four years for me to wade through it.
However, it’s no longer possible to become Irish simply because your mother happened to be on Irish soil when she gave birth to you.
That’s how my son Jackson earned his rights to an Irish passport. When he was born, we were living in Waterford.
We didn’t move to Ireland so that I could bear a child who would be eligible for Irish citizenship. We didn’t even move to Ireland so that we could earn Irish citizenship ourselves. And we didn’t move to Ireland with the definite intention of remaining in the country long enough to quality for a second passport.
Frankly, we moved with trepidation, not so sure this Irish living adventure was such a good idea. We’ll try living and doing business in Ireland on for size, we told ourselves. If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back home…
In the end, we resided full-time in Ireland for seven years. We made a home, expanded our family, built a business, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
And, as an added bonus, we earned Irish citizenship. We didn’t set out after it, for, again, I didn’t appreciate the value of a second passport 10 years ago. Today, I do.
Planning a trip to Brazil? Americans need a visa…Irish nationals do not.
Want to open a bank account in Europe? An EU passport will open the doors of many bankers who otherwise might ignore your knocks.
Thinking you’d like to live or work in the EU? Good luck, my fellow American. No problem, though, dear fellow citizen of the Emerald Isle.
Interested in traveling in the Middle East? In some countries, your blue passport with the eagle on the cover might seem a liability…but your red one with the harp on front won’t raise anybody’s eyebrows.
A second passport expands horizons and fosters opportunity. A passport for an EU member country brings special advantages but is also perhaps the hardest to come by these days (with particular exceptions all related to genealogy).
A good alternative option right now is Panama.
Yes, Panama. It’s one of the world’s top retirement, tax, business, banking, and real estate investment havens…and it’s also one of the best places today to think about acquiring a second passport. You’re eligible to apply after you’ve been a full-time permanent resident of the country for five years. Our local legal eagle Rainelda Mata-Kelly can tell you more.
The other citizenship to consider in the Americas is that of Uruguay. Full report to follow.
P.S. May 23, 2008, the Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations was signed, the first step toward an EU-like union in this part of the world. Central America, too, is talking of trying to ally the nations in that region in a pro-business, no-tariff, free-trade, open-borders kind of way. If these ideas of union are realized…wouldn’t it be nice to hold a passport to a member state, like, say, Uruguay…or Panama?Continue Reading:
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