Skip to comments.With U.S. in slump, dual citizenship in EU countries attracts Americans
Posted on 06/08/2008 3:25:27 PM PDT by null and void
For millions of Europeans who braved the Atlantic Ocean for a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and dreams of a lavish life, there was little thought of ever emigrating back.
Yet for a new generation of Americans of European descent, the Old Country is becoming a new country full of promise and opportunity.
The creation of the European Union and its thriving economy is very appealing for Americans in a global economy.
"With an EU passport, I can live and work in 27 countries," said Suzanne Mulvehill of Lake Worth. "With a U.S. passport, I can live and work in one."
Americans can claim citizenship in any of the 27 European countries that are in the EU based on the nationality of their parents, or in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents. Citizenship in one of those countries allows you to live and work in any EU nation.
Since the United States doesn't keep statistics on dual citizens, it's impossible to know exactly how many people have applied for citizenship in Europe. But it's estimated that more than 40 million Americans are eligible for dual citizenship, and a growing number of Americans want to try their luck elsewhere.
"I have to say that over the past few years, calls I never would have received before have been made to the office," said Sam Levine, an immigration attorney in Palm Beach Gardens. "It's not like a tidal wave, but it's certainly more substantial, and it's remarkable."
He's receiving calls from people like Mulvehill, executive director of the Emotional Institute, a Lake Worth-based company that trains entrepreneurs.
Mulvehill's mother was born in Romania, which became a member of the European Union last year.
She's obtaining Romanian citizenship, which she estimates will have taken about three years, a ton of paperwork, $750 in fees and a trip to the Romanian consulate in Washington.
But once she receives the passport, probably early next year, she'll be able settle anywhere in the EU.
"I recognized for the first time in my life that being American had limits," Mulvehill said, "and that if I really wanted to become what I call a global citizen, then I needed to tap into all my resources to expand my ability to serve entrepreneurs not just in Lake Worth, which is one town, and not just in Florida or in America or North America, but on the globe."
Globalization is a word on the mind of Lauren Berg, a recent college graduate from Michigan who is obtaining Greek citizenship based on her grandfather. She plans to move to Paris, brush up on her French and engross herself in the European business world.
"It's definitely a really good thing to have on your résumé with business going so global," Berg said. "I probably never would have done it if it wasn't for the EU, but at the same time I've always been extremely proud of my Greek heritage."
Dual citizenship once viewed as unpatriotic
But not everyone is so excited about this increasing trend.
"I understand the impulse: You can get a better deal over there," said Stanley Renshon, a professor at the City University of New York and former president of the International Society of Political Psychology. "Whether it's good for the American national community is quite a different question."
Renshon belongs to a faction of immigration experts that believes dual citizenship diminishes the American identity.
"The devaluation of American citizenship for the sake of comparative advantage strikes me as fairly self-centered," Renshon said.
Dual citizenship became a major issue during the War of 1812, when the British military tried recruiting, and in some cases forcing, British-born American citizens to fight on Britain's side.
For years, being a dual citizen was seen as unpatriotic, and until 1967 it was possible for the United States to revoke American citizenship for people who voted in foreign elections.
But in the 1967 Afroyim vs. Rusk decision, Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that it was unconstitutional to bar dual citizenship.
"It was the high point of the 1960s and individual rights," said Noah Pickus, the associate director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. "So the notion that you could take a citizenship away from somebody would seem to violate the basic notion of individual choice."
Today, immigrants who become American citizens have to swear that they renounce their previous citizenship, but it's more of a symbolic gesture, and Renshon said it's actually difficult to renounce a citizenship.
One of the biggest advocates of dual citizenship is Temple University professor and author Peter Spiro, who believes that defining one's identity by his citizenship is a thing of the past.
"There are really no harms caused by individuals having additional citizenship these days," Spiro said. "It's the wave of the future, because more and more people are going to have it. It's going to multiply on an exponential basis going forward."
And as the value of the euro - the currency shared by 15 EU countries - rises and America's economy slumps, it's an attractive alternative for Amber Alfano, a recent University of Florida graduate who is becoming an Italian citizen like her father.
"I'm doing it as an exit strategy of sorts," Alfano said. "I like knowing that I have another place to go if things get even worse here, or if I just get tired of running on the American mouse wheel.
"My dad was actually the one who put a bug in my ear about the whole citizenship thing. He said that Europeans are more interested in the quality of life than the quantity, and that it was a good place to have and raise children because of the way their social systems work. I don't care much about the child-rearing part, but I would gladly trade in some of my material possessions for a little flat, a scooter and more vacation."
The grass might be greener ... for now
Levine, the Palm Beach Gardens immigration attorney, was born in Canada and has received calls from people also interested in obtaining Canadian citizenship. He also understands the European appeal. He said he's proud to be an American and proud of what the U.S. has accomplished on a global scale in the last century but that there are some advantages to living elsewhere.
"You have to look at things like how hard people work here and how little vacation time people get here," Levine said. "A lot of people who live in Europe might not make same amount of money as Americans, but in some senses it's a kinder, more gentle lifestyle."
When Alfano went to fill out her paperwork at the Italian consulate in Coral Gables, she said "the waiting room was full of second- and third-generation Americans (of Italian descent) picking up passports."
Pickus said he's heard stories of parents getting their children European citizenship as an 18th birthday present - "We didn't get you a car, but we got you an Italian citizenship."
Some, like seasonal Vero Beach resident Tony Monaco, who has been trying to get Italian citizenship based on his grandfather, bought property in Italy and learned that taxes would be much lower if he was a citizen.
For those who are moving for the EU economic boom, Hudson Institute senior fellow John Fonte - one of the nation's leading immigration experts and critics of dual citizenship - warns that it might not last.
"I think it's a short-term phenomenon," Fonte said. "I don't think the European economy in the long run will do that well because it's a heavy socialist welfare state in most of the countries."
Mulvehill, the Lake Worth entrepreneur trainer, taught a course at Lynn University and encouraged her students to obtain dual citizenship if they were eligible.
"Expand your possibilities. If you can get citizenship, why not?" she said. "The world is a bigger place than America. Look at what technology has done, creating a global economy. That, in my opinion, is what has created this phenomenon."
Every country has its own process for obtaining citizenship.
Ireland, Italy and Greece are among the most lenient in terms of letting an individual claim citizenship not just from a parent but from a grandparent or possibly a great-grandparent.
Even in countries that allow an individual only to claim descent based on a parent, in many cases the new citizen can pass the citizenship on to his child.
Eric Hammerle, a Vero Beach resident whose father was born in Germany, said it was easy for him and his 16-year-old son Nick to become German citizens.
They acquired the necessary documents - birth, marriage and death certificates - and took them to the German consulate in Miami.
"The whole process took about 20 minutes," Hammerle said. "They read over the documents, came back and said, 'Congratulations, Germany has two new citizens.' It was a fee of $85."
Ireland: Automatically grants citizenship to the child of an Irish-born citizen. A person can also claim descent based on a grandparent or great-grandparent as long as a grandparent had also claimed descent on or before the date of the person's birth.
Italy: For those born after 1948, citizenship is granted if their father or mother was a citizen at the time of the applicant's birth. Citizenship is also granted under these conditions:
Father is an American and the paternal grandfather was a citizen at the time of the father's birth.
If born after 1948, when the mother is American and the maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of the mother's birth.
Paternal or maternal grandfather was born in America and the paternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of the grandparent's birth.
United Kingdom: Descent based on a grandparent allowable only in exceptional cases.
Greece: Native-born parent or grandparent.
Latvia: Native-born parent.
Cyprus: Father was a citizen.
Holland, Finland, Germany and Norway: Applicant must have been born in wedlock with one parent a citizen, or he can claim descent based only on the mother.
All other European Union countries: A parent was a citizen of the given country. People who can't claim descent can apply after living in the country for a certain number of years.
"... and in about 15 of them, I can be terrorized by feral Muslims that refuse to assimilate and regard me as a target of jihad!"
Suzanne has a EU passport mostly so she can be a self-important, wine bar snot. Apparently, she doesn't realize that the US is 50 "countries".
How does this dual citizenship work? Can one individual hold the passport of two countries? I thought that was illegal.
DUAL CITIZENSHIPS should be made ILLEGAL for U.S. citizens — and that would solve A LOT of problems for the American citizen and taxpayer.
I think all the "economy is falling" is just the Lamestream Media helping the Democrats get more seats in Congress.
It used to be true that one could claim Irish citizenship through a great-grandparent but Ireland changed the law about 20 years ago.Now you can do so through a parent (actually,if either of your parents was an Irish citizen when you were born you're automatically a citizen) or a grandparent.
It used to be illegal but several court decisions have made it legal.These decisions have made it next to impossible for one to lose his/her US citizenship without actually renouncing it.
I’ll gladly have all US liberals go over the pond and stay in Europe. We might take in the few remaining productive and freedom loving Euros in return.
what booming european economy? what a crock.
The biggest culture shock will be the “net income” and the high prices in that socialist wonderland.
*******All you “dual-citizenship” folks——go——AND STAY THERE!!*******
And don’t let the American door hit you on the a$$ as you leave!
This is actually an excellent idea. Democrats get to move to a place where their liberal views will have plenty of company, without polluting our voting booths. This is an idea whose time has come.
With the exception of US/Israeli dual citizenship, our State Department does not officially recognize the concept. It’s not illegal, however, because of the 1967 SCOTUS ruling. As a practical matter, if you hold two passports you have to be careful which one you use when entering a country. If, for example, you hold both a US and an Italian passport and you use the Italian passport to enter Germany and you then get in trouble with the German legal authorities you can’t count on the US embassy to help you out.
It’s also nonsense to say, as did one person in the article, that with US citizenship you can only work in one country (the US). Whether or not you can work legally in a foreign country depends on what kind of visa you enter with. For example, at different times I have worked legally in France and in the UK.
Not surprising. We’ll see more of this until some U.S. bureaucrat sees it as “a problem”.
BTW, Cambodia will sell you citizenship as an investor for about $50K, and Malaysia has a quasi-citizenship retirement program for $35K in *invested* funds, meaning the funds must be invested in a Malaysian bank for a couple years, then you regain access to them to start a business or buy a home or etc. At some point in the process you get a Malaysian passport.
Beys Afroyim (1893-1984) was a Jewish artist born as Ephraim Bernstein in Ryki, Poland. In 1912 he immigrated to the United States. In 1926 he became naturalized as a U.S. citizen. In 1950 he moved to Israel. He voted in an Israeli election in 1951. In 1960, Afroyim tried to renew his U.S. passport, but the State Department refused on the ground that he had lost his citizenship by voting in a foreign election. Afroyim sued Dean Rusk in his official capacity as Secretary of State and head of the State Department, which is responsible both for issuing passports and for dealing with loss of citizenship.
I’m like Atty Levine, born in Canada and my father who;s a US citizen, is from Italy.
I went to Italy years ago and the VAT is 20%. Freakin 20% surcharge. Order a pizza in Italy and it will cost you minimum $45 American...that was 3 years ago. Order red wine, and it’s customary to tip the waiter close to 20% as well..just for gratuities, NOT the tax.
No thanks, at least here in America I go to Little Ceasars and get a 12 inch for $5.
Yes,one can have as many passports as they can qualify for under the citizenship laws of the countries involved.Most western countries (but not all) allow dual/multiple citizenships.Third World-type countries tend not to allow it.
Usually, there’s an elaborate procedure to surrender one’s old passport at the consulate of the nation of origin, in order to obtain the new passport from the adopted nation.
Having two passports, simultaneously, provides good avenues for criminals.
Imagine a Jehadi dodging the authorities of both nations, with the other’s passport!
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