Dual citizenship arises when a person holds two or more citizenships simultaneously.
Is Irish Dual Citizenship allowed?
Irish Dual Citizenship is allowed under Article 24 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956 which specifically allows individuals holding Irish Citizenship to obtain another form of citizenship. This will not automatically result in the renouncing of the individual’s Irish citizenship, unless such person expressly holds that he would no longer like to hold Irish citizenship.
The same act also stipulates the different ways in which foreign persons may acquire Irish citizenship as their second citizenship. In both cases, one must also take into consideration whether the other country involved, besides Ireland, allows dual citizenship or not.
The Irish passport has been ranked the 3rd most powerful passport for 2018, allowing individuals to travel to 172 countries without need of a visa. Being a Member State within the EU, this passport also allows citizens to enjoy the four freedoms guaranteed by the EU, involving freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and labour.
Acquiring Irish Dual Citizenship- for Irish Citizens
As previously stated, Irish law allows individuals holding Irish citizenship to obtain a second citizenship, or multiple citizenships. Such persons will not be forced to renounce their citizenship, unless the law of the other state involved calls for it. Irish dual citizenship may be acquired in several different manners, including:
- Birth – If an individual was born to at least one Irish parent within a foreign country’s territory, the principle of jus soli (law of the soil), will allow such person to acquire a foreign citizenship within the foreign country. The laws applicable in the foreign country must be taken into consideration.
- Descent – Individuals may inherit their citizenship from their parents or other ancestors through the principle of jus sanguinis, the right of blood. Therefore, if the person’s parent/s are immigrants in Ireland, he would be able to acquire his parent/s’ foreign citizenship as his second citizenship. Different approaches to this principle are taken according to the laws of the state in question.
- Adoption – A minor who holds Irish Citizenship may subsequently obtain dual citizenship if his adoptive parents are foreign citizens.
- Marriage - Individuals who marry citizens of a different country are able to acquire Irish Dual Citizenship, subject nonetheless to the country’s conditions.
- Naturalisation – A citizen of Ireland may also acquire dual citizenship within a foreign state after spending a particular amount of time within such country. Certain other conditions may be required upon acquiring such dual citizenship, however, these are dependent on the laws of the State.
- Citizenship by Investment Programmes – Recently there has been an upsurge in citizenship by investment programmes being offered to foreign individuals to acquire citizenship within a relatively short period of time, in return for a substantial investment within the country. The programmes available and their benefits will be listed further below.
Acquiring Irish Dual Citizenship – For Foreign Citizens
Foreign citizens who wish to acquire Irish citizenship in addition to their existing citizenship may be able to do so in three main ways:
To acquire citizenship through one of the aforementioned means, the relevant criteria must be duly satisfied by the applicant.
Birth or Descent
Citizenship may be acquired through Birth or Descent if one of the following situations apply to the applicant:
- Born in Ireland: Individuals born in Ireland before 1st January 2005 will be entitled to acquire Irish Citizenship.
- Irish Citizen Parents: Individuals born after 1st January 2005 with parents who are Irish Citizens will be able to acquire Irish dual Citizenship.
- Foreign National parents: Even though the parents of the applicant are not from Ireland, the applicant may nonetheless be entitled to acquire Irish dual Citizenship if one of the following circumstances apply:
- The applicant is a child born on or after 1st January 2005, with parents from Britain or from Northern Ireland or the Irish State. This citizenship will not pose any restriction on the applicant’s residency.
- The applicant is a child of a parent who was granted refugee status.
- The applicant was born of any other foreign national parents on or after 1st January 2005, where a genuine link to Ireland must be proven by having 3 out of 4 years of reckonable residence in Ireland immediately before the birth of the child in question.
- Parents are Irish Citizens by Birth – Irrespective of the place of birth of the applicant, he will be able to benefit from automatic Irish dual Citizenship.
- Parents are Irish Citizens born outside of Ireland- The parents of the applicant are Irish Citizens but were born outside of Ireland. The applicant is still entitled to become an Irish citizen. If the applicant relies on his parent/s for Irish citizenship, and such parent has deceased, the authority must be satisfied that if such parent were alive at the time, he would still be an Irish Citizen, and therefore the applicant would be able to acquire Irish citizenship.
- Descent from Irish Grandparents: If the applicant’s grandparents are citizens of Ireland, but neither of the parents of the applicant are Irish, Irish dual Citizenship may still be granted.
Irish Citizenship law strictly stipulates that for citizenship to be acquired through ancestors, these must strictly be parents or grandparents. Citizenship may not be claimed on the basis of cousins, uncles, aunts, or other extended family members.
- Adoption: If the applicant is an adopted child, he may acquire Irish citizenship in the following situations:
- The child is not an Irish citizen, but his adoptive parent/s are Irish citizens.
- The parent/s of the child are Irish citizens living abroad. The adoption must be entered within the Register of Intercountry Adoptions.
Whenever a child is adopted from outside the state, upon applying for citizenship, the immigration procedures in place in Ireland must be duly observed.
- Deserted Infants: Unless proven to the contrary, a deserted infant who is found within Ireland will be considered to have been born in Ireland.
Citizenship may also be acquired through the Naturalisation process, where the following conditions must be satisfied:
- The applicant is 18 years or older (if under the age of 18, the applicant must be married), or is a minor born in the State as from 1st January 2005;
- Applicant must be of good character, where investigations will be carried out regarding any criminal record or ongoing proceedings the applicant is involved in;
- The applicant must spend a period of 365 days of continuous reckonable residence within the state immediately before the date of application for naturalisation, and within the 8 years preceding this, the total reckonable residence must amount to 1460 days (4 years). In total, reckonable residence must add up to 5 years out of the last 9 years.
- The applicant must intend, in good faith, to reside in the state after the naturalisation procedure;
- A declaration of loyalty and fidelity to the state must be made, ensuring observance with the law and respect to the values upheld by the state.
Citizenship through marriage may also be an option for foreign nationals whose spouse or civil partner has Irish citizenship. The procedure is very similar to that of naturalisation, however the conditions in the case of spouses or civil partners are more favourable. The following conditions must therefore be met for such a person to qualify:
- The person must be married or in a recognised civil partnership with an Irish citizen for a minimum of 3 years;
- A period of 1 year’s continuous reckonable residence in Ireland is required immediately before the date of the application. In the 4 years prior to this step, a total reckonable residence of 3 years out of the total 5 years are required.
- The marriage or civil partnership must be recognised and valid under Irish law;
- The spouses or civil partners must be living together as a married couple or civil partners;
- The applicant must be of 18 years or older, be deemed to have good character and express his intention to continue living in Ireland;
- A declaration of loyalty and fidelity towards the State must be made.
As can be noted, in cases of naturalisation or acquisition of citizenship through marriage, the periods of residence are taken into consideration. Certain periods are expressly excluded upon calculation of the period of residence within the State, including presence within the state for study purposes or when a claim for asylum is still being considered.
If the applicant is an EEA national, no residency permit or documentation under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations of 2015 are required when spending time in Ireland. However, in the case of non-EEA citizens, unless they have express permission by the State to remain in the state, the period of time spent within Ireland will not be calculated for the purposes of reckonable residence.
Alternatives to Irish Dual Citizenship
Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)
The relatively recent programme will allow HNW Individuals from outside the EU and EEA to invest a significant amount of money in Ireland, and simultaneously acquire 5 years of residence within the State. With each application, the competent authority must determine if the investment at hand will satisfy the following criteria:
- It is considered good for Ireland;
- It will create jobs;
- It is in public interest;
- The funds invested have been legally acquired;
- The investor is of good character
Under this programme, the investments which can be made may fall under the following 6 categories:
- An Immigration Investor Bond of €1,000,000 made in Irish Government Bonds at 0% interest;
- An Enterprise Investment of €1,000,000 in the Irish business enterprise must be made for 3 years;
- An Investment Fund of €1,000,000 invested within a government approved fund;
- A Real Estate Investment Trust with a minimum investment of €2,000,000 may be made within any Irish Real Estate Investment Trust listed in the Irish Stock Exchange.
- A Mixed Investment which involves a real estate purchase of minimum value of €450,000 as well as an investment of €500,000 to an Irish government bond. Both minimum investments should amount to €950,000.
- An Endowment of €500,000 made to a non-refundable philanthropic donation which will benefit the arts, sports, health, culture or education.
Once an individual has been granted residency under this programme, he will be able to renew such residency without having to make any further investments. Family members may also be granted residency, without any extra costs involved. This programme also offers the possibility of such individuals obtaining Irish dual citizenship through naturalisation once the requisite period of residency has been satisfied, as is held above.
Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
With the aim of attracting business to Ireland, the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme has been introduced to foreign investments in Ireland. If the competent authority is of the belief that the investment which will be made, with a fund of minimum €70,000, will improve Ireland’s economy, it will grant the applicant a 5-year residency permit, with the purpose of developing the business in question. The start-up venture must satisfy the following conditions:
- It must introduce a new or innovative product or service within the International market;
- It must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and raising €1,000,000 in sales after 3 or 4 years of starting-up;
- Must be led by an experienced management team;
- Its headquarters are controlled in Ireland, and
- It must be less than 6 years old
Citizenship by Investment Programmes
As can be noted, the ways in which a person may acquire citizenship in Ireland are mainly dependant on family relations or the period of residence within the country. Therefore, persons will have to wait years before they will be able to apply for Irish citizenship.
Recently, several countries have introduced innovative Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CBI) which allow HNWI to acquire their relevant citizenship within a short period of time, and with less onerous obligations which need to be fulfilled.
The programmes currently operating can be divided mainly into two: European programmes and Caribbean Programmes. Under the first category, programmes offered by Malta and Cyprus have shown great success since their inception. They provide applicants with access to the Schengen Area, as well as EU citizenship, which will ultimately allow them to benefit from the four freedoms granted to all EU citizens. The four freedoms allow movement of goods, capital, services and labour, allowing investors to freely move to different Members States for personal or business reasons. These European programmes in particular can prove to be worthwhile alternatives to attaining Irish dual citizenship, considering the facilitated access to the EU which they offer.
Applicants looking for more flexibility in their investment options will be able to make use of the Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes, which are offered by St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Dominica. These programmes offer visa-free travel to approximately 123 – 134 countries at relatively low prices.
The growing popularity of such programmes with HNWI and their families may be attributed to the following enticing characteristics such persons will be entitled to:
- Facilitated travel: One of the main reasons individuals attain a second citizenship, especially under these programmes, is to enjoy the extensive list of visa-free travel these countries provide. The investor and his family would be able to widen their mobility, for personal and business purposes, without the significant amount of restrictions faced in their country of origin. The extent to which visa-free travel is offered depends on which programme is chosen.
- Tax Benefits: To further promote the programmes available, various jurisdictions have introduced tax incentives to the benefit of the investors, aiming at safeguarding and maximising their wealth as much as possible. The fiscal benefits differ from one state to another, however these may include the exemption of taxation on foreign income, wealth, inheritance, gifts or capital gains, as is offered in Antigua, or an attractive remittance-based taxation scheme which is offered in Malta.
- Personal Security: Most HNWI and their families originate from politically or economically unstable countries. By attaining a second citizenship through one of the aforementioned programmes, such individuals will be able to put their minds at rest that their business or personal lives will not be affected by any fall-outs which their country of origin may experience.
- Better quality of life: Besides benefitting from the aforementioned advantages, the HNW family will be able to experience the life they dreamed of in the country of their choice. If the applicant benefits from the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme or the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Programme, this will entitle him, and his future generations, to make use of excellent health care systems and educational systems all over Europe.