Double booked

For some of the nearly 200 million people living outside their birth countries, passport lines might be getting easier to manage. That's because the number of countries allowing dual citizenship is on the rise, jumping 75 per cent over the past 10 years, says Foreign Policy magazine.

  • Today, the number of nations allowing their citizens to hold two passports stands at 56, including Australia, India, the Philippines, and Russia.
  • And that means the number of people pledging allegiance to more than one country is at an all-time high as well.

    Countries most often loosen their restrictions on dual citizenship to re-establish political and economic ties among those who have emigrated, according to Tanja Brondsted Sejersen, author of a recent study in International Migration Review:
  • Italy's 1992 dual-citizenship law, for example, allows anyone with Italian grandparents to apply for an Italian passport – an attempt to forge business and cultural ties with the millions of ethnic Italians living abroad.
  • In 2006, more than 35,000 people became Italian citizens without losing their old passports, about three times the 2003 figure.

    Countries that depend on remittances, such as El Salvador, Sierra Leone and Uganda, are also increasingly adopting dual citizenship as a way to keep bonds with expats strong – and the money flowing home. Other countries, such as Sweden, are changing their passport rules to integrate a growing number of immigrants. When Sweden legalised dual citizenship in 2001, the number of people acquiring Swedish passports increased more than 40 per cent during the next five years. This kind of integration has obvious economic benefits for new migrants, such as eligibility for jobs.

    Francesca Mazzolari of the University of California, Irvine, found that immigrants from Latin America who obtained U.S. citizenship but also retained their passports from home earn 2.5 per cent more in the U.S. job market than non-naturalised foreigners. Doubling your passports may also mean increasing your chance of success.

    Source: Elizabeth Dickinson, Double Booked, Foreign Policy, March/April 2009.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 10 March 2009
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