First we will consider the various categories
under which all applications for rights of residence and citizenship
The gaining of a new nationality almost always involves two steps:
first, gaining the right to reside in the new country; and,
second, qualifying, by a period of residence, for citizenship.
Normally the qualification for citizenship is a period of residence
which can be up to 12 years depending on the country. The important
step is obtaining the right of residence. Once you have that right,
provided you do actually reside for the required period, the naturalisation
process is almost automatic.
But not all rights to reside will result in the possibility of citizenship.
For example, the US offers a number of residence-visa classifications
but only two of them are helpful in having the holder’s residence
qualify for naturalisation; and it can be difficult, if not impossible,
to change from one US visa class to another that will help you obtain
There is one major exception to the general rule concerning the two-stage
Citizenship by birth.
In many countries, anyone born in that country, irrespective of his
parents’ nationality, is automatically a citizen. Many Hong Kong
people have travelled to Australia, the US or Canada, for the birth
of their children, so that those children automatically have another
citizenship. In international law this is known as the “jus solis,”
or law of the soil.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US are the most popular
destinations for Hong Kong residents. Except for the UK, birth in any
one of those countries confers citizenship.
There is one exception to this general rule. When the parents are accredited
diplomats to the host country, their children do not get its citizenship.
Aside from that, your child’s birth in one of these four countries
(not the UK) will confer on him that country’s nationality.
The UK recently changed its rules so that only people of British ancestry
can be British, regardless of where they were born. This was of course
designed to stop the influx of British passport-holders from India,
Kenya, Hong Kong and other colonies or former colonies. It also excluded
from British citizenship all persons, who though clearly by race and
British origin, were so unwise or unfortunate as to have been born
upon soil not that of the UK. So any reader who is pregnant and British,
living outside the magic circle of Britain’s frontiers, should
travel back in time to ensure delivery inside the circle.
By contrast, citizenship of Switzerland by birth depends, not on the
place of birth, but on Swiss parentage, regardless of place of birth.
Generally, having a child born in another country can provide —
in due course — entry for the entire family. Aside from marriage,
this is probably the cheapest, though not the quickest, method of obtaining
a new citizenship for yourself and your entire family. /continued...
Reminder: This edition of How To Get A Second Passport was published
in 1990. Check the useful
links page for updated information.
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