Changes to dual citizenship laws are often the culmination of a build-up in sentiment and social pressures from dual nationals and migrant diasporas. Though there have been no new laws ushering in dual citizenship in the first half of 2019, some notable countries have been steadily making progress in drawing more concrete attention to the topic. This progressive move towards the acceptance of dual citizenship can be observed in most regions of the world, from Ukraine in Eastern Europe, to Ghana in West Africa.
The ever-increasing migration phenomenon remains a prominent factor in instigating dual citizenship changes. However, dual citizenship developments in 2019 have been particularly fuelled by governments’ realizations that restricting dual citizens’ rights might be denying the country itself invaluable economic, and even cultural, contributions.
Dual Citizenship Developments by Country
The idea of granting the right of dual citizenship has markedly been gaining ground within Ukraine. Indeed, the country’s Foreign Minister called for a fair and frank discussion on dual citizenship. Even more recently, in July 2019, Ukraine’s Nationality Security Chief also expressed his support for the concept of dual citizenship, saying that he believes the ban on this right to be a “completely artificial restriction”. Both however, made the clarification of excluding Russia from any granted freedoms pertaining to dual citizenship. The concerns in the Ukrainian government mainly have to do with the inability of Ukrainian dual citizens to work within the country, including within state bodies. This impediment does not bode well for the citizens themselves, as well as the country’s economic development. Rather, Ukrainian authorities are coming to the realization that the allowance of dual citizenship has the potential of attracting numerous foreign professionals who would be invaluable to the country’s economic reform.
In contrast to Ukraine, other countries which might already allow dual citizenship on a conditional basis, are looking into avenues by which they can loosen restrictions or grant further rights to dual nationals. Ghana, for instance, has allowed dual citizenship since 2002 by permitting nationals to apply for a Dual Citizenship Card. Nevertheless, the law remains inflexible in not granting full citizenship rights to dual citizens. Notably, dual nationals are not allowed to be elected as members of Parliament or hold positions of public office.
At the beginning of July 2019, however, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana made a significant statement in announcing that the government will soon be placing a bill before Parliament that would allow Ghanaians with dual citizenship to hold public office. The bill is expected to take into consideration all matters dealing with overseas Ghanaians, considering the crucial role and further untapped potential they have in contributing towards the country’s national development and prosperity. This step is seen as being instrumental in eradicating what is seen as discrimination against dual citizens, particularly individuals born abroad to Ghanaian parents who have no choice in the matter. Other prominent individuals, including top contenders for the Ghanaian Parliament, have made efforts to bring this issue to light, in stating that not granting full rights to dual citizens has been detrimental to the pool of talent within the country.
Another development in dual citizenship laws worth mentioning is the Austrian government’s plans to allow dual citizenship for Austrian nationals living in Britain in the event of Brexit. Although Austria for the most part restricts dual citizenship, this is still a step forward in loosening regulation.
Slow burning moves towards acceptance of Dual Citizenship
Towards the end of 2018, the Netherlands had announced plans to introduce dual citizenship by Spring 2019, whereby first-generation migrants in the Netherlands would be allowed to hold more than one passport. This is also related to Brexit, considering the vast amount of UK nationals living in the Netherlands. However, despite this pledge, the Dutch government has yet to publish proposals regarding the new legislation, and no specific time frame has been set.
Similarly, despite voting in favour of allowing dual citizenship in Norway last December, the new rules on citizenship are not expected to enter into force until at least 2020. The new rules will allow Norwegians to keep their Norwegian citizenship if they actively apply for another citizenship, while new Norwegian citizens will not be required to renounce any other citizenship. The rationales behind the introduction of dual citizenship in Norway are plenty. In line with traditional arguments for dual citizenship, the new regulation is seen as an effort to remain in sync with an increasingly globalised world, and to integrate immigrants into the political community. Furthermore, dual citizenship would allow Norwegians living abroad to keep or retain their Norwegian citizenship. On the other hand, allowing dual citizenship would make it possible to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens who engage in or support terrorist acts.