We contemplate EU lineage citizenship as an option for those Americans seeking an exit from the US.
Why and the how today’s Americans are contemplating leaving the US
In our previous blogs, we examined and outlined the key reasons “Why?” some Americans are considering acquiring the “Fire Insurance” of acquiring a second citizenship and/or residence. Namely increased violence against certain groups , gun violence, and populist Tax the Rich proposals . These blogs answered the question of “Why?”.
I also answered the question of “How?” In a series of articles which examined how to live as an American abroad . This was followed up by a series on how to use this fire insurance as part of a Fire Escape Plan to legally and permanent leave the US tax system .
Now let’s find out where…
After answering why you may want to leave, let’s dive into the next question: “Where?”
In the first of this series, we explored the option of Canada as a destination for a second residence and citizenship. In this second blog in the series we are going to explore the ability to gain citizenship in an EU country through lineage. This allows the holder to not only live in the European country of their ancestors, but also to live, work or study without restriction in any one of the 26 other EU member states.
How many Americans can claim citizenship in a European Country?
According to our research, around 40% of Americans may be eligible for secondary citizenship in Europe through their ancestry.
Here is a general breakdown by country:
Italy has one of the largest populations of Americans eligible for citizenship, with an estimated 17 million Americans who can claim Italian citizenship through their ancestry. This is due to the large influx of Italian immigrants to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ireland is another popular option for Americans seeking citizenship, with an estimated 34 million Americans who can claim Irish citizenship through their ancestry. This is due to the large number of Irish immigrants who first came to the United States in significant numbers during the Great Potato Famine in the mid-19th century.
Germany has an estimated 44 million Americans who can claim German citizenship through their ancestry. This is due to the large number of German immigrants who came to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Other European countries with significant numbers of Americans eligible for citizenship through ancestry include the United Kingdom (up to 34 million); Poland (up to 9 million); and France (up to 12 million).
Benefits of Citizenship in any EU Country
Choice – you don’t have to live in the ‘Old Country’ if it doesn’t suit your current needs.
First it is important to note when determining your personal ancestry that you are not limited to the country of your direct lineage. Once you have determined your eligibility for citizenship in an EU country through ancestry, you can choose to live, work or study any of the EU member states. This means that you have your choice of 27 countries to find one that offers the lifestyle, culture, and economic opportunities that best suit your needs.
But what about Brexit?
For those entitled to UK citizenship is worth noting that while they have lost the right to live throughout the EU as a result of Brexit. However, they still have the right to live in Ireland under the Common Travel Area Agreement. This agreement also gives Irish citizens the right to live in the UK, along with their EU wide residency rights.
Second, European member citizens also have access to high-quality healthcare and education systems. They also enjoy social welfare benefits such as unemployment insurance and pension plans. This can provide a safety net for individuals and families in times of need.
The whole family are welcome
Third, it is also worth noting that if you find that you qualify, it does not just apply to you. If eligible, your spouse and children may be eligible for citizenship through your lineage as well. This can be an important consideration for families who want to relocate together and take advantage of the benefits of European citizenship.
For those spouses or children who are not entitled to your EU country citizenship, they still enjoy the right to live with you in any of the EU member states. They can obtain residence permits in your chosen country of residence and go on to naturalise and obtain the citizenship of that given country.
Fourth, it is important to remember that you do not need to give up your American citizenship in order to obtain citizenship in another country. The US allows dual citizenship. This means that you can maintain your American passport whilst also holding a European member state passport. This can provide additional flexibility. You have the freedom to travel, live, and work in both the US and Europe. However, note that some EU member states are not as flexible. Some countries will require you to take certain steps to retain your US citizenship. Proper advice on this issue is critical.
Lastly, unlike the US, none of the 27 EU member states tax based on citizenship. This means that the simple acquisition of a European country passport does not make a person a taxpayer in that country. Only those who actually move to any one of the 27 member states AND spends more than 6 months physically there will become a taxpayer in that country.
It is worth noting that Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Greece, and Switzerland) all have special tax regimes which limit or eliminate worldwide tax for new tax residents. These programs are designed to attract wealthy people who will spend money in the local economy and pay value added tax (i.e. sales tax) on their local purchases.
How to get citizenship through lineage in an EU country
The rules governing who is eligible and the process of applying varies from country to country. It can be complex and time-consuming. Also the eligibility rules can, and do, change regularly.
Relying on the experience of a relative who secured their citizenship even a few years ago is foolhardy. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified experienced professional. They will help you determine your eligibility and guide you through the process.
Furthermore the documentation required to prove your claim may require the intervention of a professional genealogist.
Finally, it is worth understanding that processing times vary from country to country. However, it usually takes more than a year from submission to passport. Therefore, it is best to start the process as soon as you determine your eligibility. You don’t want to wait, only to find out that the government moved the eligibility goal posts and you are no longer able to secure that citizenship.
Is EU lineage citizenship a viable route for American Expats?
In conclusion, obtaining European citizenship can provide American expats with a wide range of benefits. You’ll access increased travel and lifestyle flexibility, and high-quality healthcare and education systems. With up to 40% of Americans eligible for European citizenship through ancestry, this is an opportunity worth considering. It may be the opportunity to expand your horizons and pursue new economic opportunities.
It can also be excellent fire insurance should you decide to leave the US.
If you believe you may be eligible the first step is to reach out to us. We will confirm the possibility of eligibility and find out the steps and expense that would be involved in pursuing an application.