April 24, 2013:
"Kathleen, I am very interested in volunteering in France. I have a high level of French proficiency. I have been a translator of French and Moroccan Arabic into English and have lived and/or studied in Brittany, Paris, and Morocco.
"I just wrote to an organization that places volunteers with a high level of French proficiency in high schools in Saint Brieuc and Saint Malo. I adore each of these cities and would be very happy to return to either of them. (I have experience with each of them from an exchange program I was on in high school.) I have not seen where the heart of Chateaubriand is buried since 1978. That is still one of the highlights of my experience with what you might call my francophilia.
"I am also interested in a sort of longish opportunity--at least three months, which I understand is what I can do, maximum, without a visa--in either Paris or in the south of France. Ideally, I would work with children and/or the visual arts or cinema. There are some nice opportunities in the arts I have found, but they are mostly very short term and they also are for younger people without a lot of French language experience under their belts. I wonder what you would suggest?"
--Jackie M., United States, Ecuador Conference Attendee
Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper responds:
It would be easy to think that France is too tied up in bureaucracy to welcome foreigners to their volunteer dependent projects. Not so. As long as you have a valid passport and have not overstayed the three months allowed without a visa or have extended your visa (see France Diplomatie for visa information) you will be welcomed by may non-profit associations.
According to a report by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, 85% of associations in France rely exclusively on volunteers (bÃ©nÃ©voles, in French). In fields such as culture, sports, and recreation, which absorb nearly half the volunteers in the French non-profit sector, and environmental, international, and professional associations, volunteer work is the primary human resource.
What is the best way to find volunteer opportunities in France?
Taking a broad stroke, you could check out the websites of four of the big charities in France:
Croix Rouge, Restos du CÅ“ur, Fondation AbbÃ© Pierre, and Habitat and Humanisme.
These groups are always in need of volunteers, and you can find details of how to apply to help on their websites.
The 140-page Guide SolidaritÃ© produced by the city hall of Paris lists almost 130 homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other resources that need volunteer workers.
There are a number of umbrella associations that support volunteering and volunteers, for example: FÃ©dÃ©ration FranÃ§aise du BÃ©nÃ©volat et de la Vie Associative which you could contact for resources. And, of course, there is a government department (this site also lists a number of umbrella organizations that may be of interest).
An online search bought up some interesting individual projects--for example, La Sabranenque, a non-profit organization in southern France that revitalizes historic villages and is "committed to preserving traditional, environmentally friendly building techniques."
I think the two best ways to find volunteer opportunities in a specific area are:
First, Google "benevolat" with the name of the department where you're interested in volunteering. I did this with the Herault department in the Languedoc and found, among other sites: the Food Bank of L'Herault, France BÃ©nÃ©volat Montpellier HÃ©rault, and the Catholic Church association of volunteers.
Second, get talking to expats in forums. One of the best for France isAngloINFO France, which is made up of 20 local sites.
You indicate that you are fluent in French, which is great; however, I know from my own experience of helping at a voluntary organization in the BÃ©arn region of France, as well as my mother's experience volunteering in the Languedoc, that helping local people doesn't require fluency, just compassion. But it is a great way to learn the lingo.
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
"You may not have caused this crisis. In fact, you may have been a responsible citizen who paid off your own debts, lived within your means, and faithfully prepared your tax returns every April. But, unfortunately, that doesn't matter anymore. This debt-storm cloud has grown so large and dark that it's pouring down on all of us, whether we saw it coming or not.
"So start thinking about acquiring another citizenship and, with it, a second passport. Not only will you have a better chance at economic survival, but of eventual increased prosperity, as well.
"You may never have considered it, but you do have a right to become a citizen of more than one country -- and doing so could change your life for the better.
"Under U.S. law, upheld by several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, holding a second citizenship does not jeopardize U.S. citizenship.
"Whether they're eager to work or retire abroad, to be free of red tape and restrictions, or want to strengthen ties with their ancestral lands, record numbers of Americans are obtaining a second, foreign passport. Many more simply leave the U.S. and make a new home abroad.
"While it's impossible to know exactly how many Americans have acquired another passport, Professor Stanley Renshon of City University of New York puts the number of U.S. citizens who either hold or who are entitled to hold a second passport at about 40 million of the 312 million Americans.
"So why would any U.S. citizen need to acquire a second nationality and the additional passport that goes with that expanded political status? One very good reason...
"Increasingly, the U.S. government imposes highly burdensome restrictions on the freedoms that the nation's founders set down in the U.S. Constitution. For people of wealth, in particular, there is now an extensive web cast to catch persons 'the government' decides may be doing something wrong. And the current definition of 'wrong' is so expansive as to be all-inclusive in the bureaucratic mind.
"For example, the very fact that one has an offshore bank account, creates an offshore trust, or owns shares in an international business corporation -- any and all of these innocent financial choices can suggest potential tax evasion in the jaundiced eyes of the IRS. It is not an exaggeration to state that the current IRS attitude is that any American with offshore financial activity is presumed to be engaged in tax evasion.
"An alternative citizenship is, therefore, increasingly important as a personal powerful tool for truly international tax planning and investing. As a national of two different countries, you also can enjoy an extra degree of privacy in your banking and investment activities.
"A second passport can be your key to a whole new world of freer movement, expanded international investment, and greater financial flexibility.
"Who qualifies for a second passport? Legal grounds that may allow a person to have or acquire dual citizenship include:
1) Birth within the borders of a nation's territory; the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship to any child born within American territory, regardless of the citizenship of the parents...
2) Descent from a foreign citizen parent or grandparent, making blood ancestry a basis, as is the law in Ireland, Italy, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, or Greece...
3) Marriage to a foreign citizen...
4) Religion, as in Israel and its Law of Return for Jews, and...
5) Formal naturalization; meaning applying and qualifying for citizenship status. The process for receiving the privilege of naturalization varies among countries. Usually, a certain period of residence is required (e.g., five years in the United States), plus good character and an absence of any criminal record, among other requirements.
"Some countries such as Canada offer an accelerated path to citizenship (three years) if you make a substantial financial investment and create new jobs. Few know about it, but the United States has a similar program granting immediate residence to investors, as do The Bahamas, Panama, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Chile, and many others.
"One other expensive possibility is purchasing citizenship. Only two small Caribbean area countries offer official 'economic citizenship' for sale: the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Each charges more than US$200,000 for the citizenship, based on the number of family members applying and other factors.
"Oddly enough, with all the oppressive laws and taxes now imposed by America's politicians, the Constitution and laws allow citizens a guaranteed escape hatch. We do have the right to end citizenship and the real possibility of acquiring a second citizenship.
"Thankfully, the possibility exists of making a new home in a new country, even the possibility of eventually leaving your native citizenship behind. It may seem a radical idea to those born and raised in one country, but almost anyone with the financial means and determination can become an international citizen.
"A second citizenship can open doors that otherwise would remain closed to you. Best of all, it can serve as your key to greater freedom, reducing taxes and protecting your assets -- or even saving your life.
"It's time to take matters into your own hands. No rational person should believe that the very government policies that sank us into this economic quagmire can rescue us. Especially when their rescue method will involve yet another enormous dose of the same political malpractice and insanity that brought us here in the first place.
"More of the same will not fix the problem.
"Acquiring a legal second citizenship and finding a new home in another country could be the solution.
"In this time of economic turmoil, you won't find salvation in Washington. You'll find it when you look into your own mirror -- and when you take appropriate action. Obtaining a second passport is only one step to self-reliance. For additional solutions, continue reading here."
Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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