Dual Citizenship Opportunities: An Overview of 14 Asian Countries

Dual Citizenship Opportunities: An Overview of 14 Asian Countries

Dual citizenship offers exciting global privileges, but requires a thorough understanding of legal complexities. Careful consideration and planning are essential to avoid complications and maximize benefits.

Individuals can acquire dual citizenship in a variety of ways, including birth in a country that offers automatic citizenship, naturalization, marriage, descent, or investment programs. The rules vary from country to country.

While some Asian countries allow dual citizenship, others have stricter regulations. Vietnam and India allow it, while Japan, South Korea, and China generally require renunciation of previous citizenship.

According to a report by the International Organization for Migration, more than 115 million people from Asia will migrate internationally in 2020, accounting for 40% of the world's migrant population. Intra-regional migration in Asia increased significantly, reaching 69 million in 2020. Asian migration to North America (17.5 million) and Europe (23 million) also increased in the same year. Meanwhile, Asian migration to North America and Europe contributed to the total number of Asian migrants living outside Asia, which reached 46 million in 2020.

This article examines 14 Asian countries that allow dual citizenship, based on the Insider Monkey report. The countries are identified by their dual citizenship policies and ranked according to the Human Development Index (HDI) as an indicator of quality of life.

It's important to note that the HDI score for Taiwan is not available in the index. Therefore, the IMF's GDP per capita is used as a proxy, with Slovenia's HDI as the benchmark.

1. Hong Kong

HDI score: 0.952

Hong Kong's Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) allows skilled individuals to obtain residency based on a points-based system and financial criteria. In addition, the General Employment Policy (GEP) permit is available to job seekers after obtaining residency. The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) is for mainland Chinese residents with unique skills. Entrepreneurs who invest in private businesses in Hong Kong can obtain permanent residency after seven years, with the possibility of applying for citizenship after ten years.

2. Macao SAR

HDI score: 0.940

The Macau SAR offers residency to foreign investors through a program that focuses on long-term economic benefits and job creation. Residency can be obtained through investment permits for applicants, their families and future generations. The program is divided into categories such as foreign investors, real estate investors, and skilled professionals, subject to the discretion of the authorities, with priority given to investments that contribute to the Macau SAR economy.

3. Taiwan

HDI score: 0.918

Foreign nationals can obtain citizenship in Taiwan through naturalization after five years of residence, or three years if married to a Taiwanese citizen or born to Taiwanese parents. Meanwhile, citizenship by investment requires 183 days of annual presence, a monthly income of twice the minimum wage, and the submission of documents such as passports, certificates, and an investment plan.

4. Brunei Darussalam

HDI score: 0.829

While possible, obtaining citizenship in Brunei involves a rigorous process under the Citizenship Act of 1961. Specific criteria include proficiency in the Malay language, passing the Malay language test, good character, and taking the military oath. Foreigners married to Bruneian citizens require ten years of residency, while those married to Bruneian women require permanent residency, financial self-sufficiency, and 15 years of residence in Brunei.

5. Thailand

HDI score: 0.800

Foreigners who meet certain requirements, such as five consecutive years of permanent residency, a clean criminal record, three years of work experience, and a minimum age of 18, are eligible to apply for Thai citizenship. Meanwhile, foreign women married to Thai citizens have a faster track, requiring only one year of marriage to qualify for application.

6. Sri Lanka

HDI score: 0.782

Foreigners can acquire Sri Lankan citizenship by residing for five years under the Guest Resident Scheme, either through descent, marriage, or by meeting the requirements of the Citizenship Act and submitting documents to the Immigration Department. In addition, Sri Lanka has the "Golden Paradise Visa" program which allows citizenship through a bank deposit of $100,000 for 10 years, $300,000 for a 5-year visa or 10-year $500,000 for a 10 year visa through direct investment. Other options such as the Guest Resident Scheme and Independent Means Visas also offer citizenship after five years of residence.

7. Philippines

HDI Score: 0.699

In the Philippines, dual citizenship can be acquired through Administrative, Judicial, or Legislative Naturalization processes, depending on factors such as residence, property ownership, moral character, and other criteria. While marrying a Filipino citizen grants residency, it does not automatically confer citizenship. Meanwhile, children born to at least one Filipino parent automatically gain Filipino citizenship.

8. Kyrgyzstan

HDI Score: 0.692

Similar to Tajikistan, foreigners or stateless individuals aged 18 and above can apply for citizenship in the Kyrgyz Republic through a standard application process. Eligibility is based on their uninterrupted residence in the Kyrgyz Republic for five years before filing their application.

9. Tajikistan

HDI Score: 0.685

Foreigners and stateless individuals aged 18 and above can apply for naturalization in Tajikistan regardless of their background. Requirements include continuous residence, proficiency in the official language, and a criminal record without ongoing charges. Dual citizenship is allowed under certain agreements, but Tajik citizens cannot have dual citizenship without permission under the country's laws.

10. Bangladesh

HDI Score: 0.661

Bangladesh allows naturalization for foreigners through the Citizenship Act of 1951, which has been amended. Criteria include being a law-abiding adult, marrying a Bangladeshi citizen, or residing in the country for a specified period. To maintain Bangladeshi citizenship, individuals acquiring Bangladeshi citizenship must obtain a Dual Nationality Certificate (DNC).

11. Laos

HDI Score: 0.607

Laos now offers an 'honorary' citizenship program for foreign investors contributing $1.5 million. This initiative, the second in Asia after Cambodia, allows honorary citizens to enjoy privileges, including unrestricted land purchases. Applicants, open to all foreign citizens above 18 years old, will receive a decision within 30 days from the Ministry of Justice. The program is expected to benefit Chinese and Asian investors, while Laotian passport holders gain visa-free access to 51 countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, and Seychelles.

12. Timor-Leste

HDI score: 0.607

Timor-Leste allows dual citizenship, which allows individuals to hold Timor-Leste citizenship and the citizenship of another country at the same time.The Constitution (2002) and the Citizenship Law (2002) explicitly support dual citizenship.Citizenship can be acquired by birth in the country or by descent from a citizen of Timor-Leste. In addition, foreign nationals may apply for naturalization and retain their existing citizenship after 10 years of residence in the country.

13. Cambodia

HDI score: 0.593

Since 1996, Cambodia has allowed dual citizenship, except for high-ranking positions such as prime minister as of 2021. Individuals can acquire it through descent, naturalization, or investment. Those born to at least one Khmer parent qualify automatically, and foreigners can apply through investment or marriage to a Cambodian citizen. In general, there are no restrictions on dual citizenship except for certain government positions.

14. Pakistan

HDI score: 0.544

Pakistan has dual citizenship agreements with 21 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, Sweden, Ireland, Bahrain, Denmark, Germany, and Norway.This allows citizens of these countries to become Pakistani citizens without losing their original citizenship.

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