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For some migrant Filipinos, the next step after acquiring permanent residency in their new country is citizenship.
Some countries’ laws require that once a person pledges allegiance to their flag, he or she automatically loses any citizenship in a previous country.
Under the Philippines’ Republic Act 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act, natural-born Filipinos are allowed to retain or reacquire their Filipino citizenship if they have been naturalized in other countries. The Filipino would then hold two citizenships, and would be known as a dual citizen.
Among other rights, dual citizens reacquire their right to vote in Philippine elections.
Since RA 9225 took effect in 2003, more than 150,000 had applied for dual citizenship with the Bureau of Immigration (BI), according to 2018 data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). Most of the applicants were Filipino-Americans.
Are you looking to be a Filipino citizen again, maybe to vote in the next elections? Here are the things you should know.
Who is eligible for dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship under RA 9225 is reserved for former natural-born Filipinos. As defined by the 1987 Constitution, natural-born Filipinos are:
- Persons who, at the time of his/her birth, have at least one Filipino parent
- Persons born to a Filipino mother before January 17, 1973, who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority (21 years old)
If you were born outside of the Philippines, but your parents were Filipino citizens at the time of your birth, then you are already a dual citizen by birth. You no longer need to apply for dual citizenship under RA 9225.
Not eligible for Philippine dual citizenship are persons who were naturalized Filipinos before acquiring citizenship in another country.
What are my rights as dual citizen?
Once you acquire dual citizenship, you have the following rights in the Philippines:
- Right to vote in Philippine national and local elections (provided you also qualify under the overseas voting law)
- Right to own land and property
- Right to engage in business
- Right to practice your profession (provided you are licensed or permitted by the Professional Regulation Commission, or Supreme Court for lawyers)
- Right to travel bearing a Philippine passport
- All rights and privileges enjoyed by Philippine citizens (however, if you plan to run for public office, you must renounce all foreign citizenship)
What are the requirements for application?
The Philippine post in your country of residence will require you to file your petition for dual citizenship by filling up a form. The following documents (original and photocopies) may be needed to retain or reacquire your Filipino citizenship:
- Birth certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
- Latest Philippine passport (if available)
- Marriage certificate (if married) issued by the PSA
- With annotation of divorce or annulment, if it applies
- Decree or judgment of dissolution of marriage (for divorced or annulled)
- Death certificate of spouse (for widowed individuals)
- Naturalization certificate
- Foreign passport
- Recent passport photographs with white background
- Other documents that would show the applicant is a former natural-born Filipino
You can apply for PSA documents here. Philippine embassies or consulates may have more specific requirements (like a certification from the Bureau of Immigration), which you can check on their websites. Fees may apply for applying for documents, as well as the application process itself.
Former Filipino citizens would need to take an oath of allegiance before a duly authorized Philippine official to get their citizenship rights back.
When Filipinos take this oath, they are not required to renounce their allegiance to any other country.
Can my application include my family?
If you have unmarried children below the age of 18, they can also derive Filipino citizenship if you include them in your application.
If you have a foreign spouse, they can become a naturalized Filipino citizen through Commonwealth Act 473 or the naturalization law, but not through RA 9225.
Which countries allow dual citizenship?
Not every country has a policy that addresses dual citizenship directly. In the United States, for instance, the law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality over the other.
Meanwhile, “places like China or Taiwan strictly construe citizenship – they only want people to have one, so you have to give up other citizenship to get theirs,” said Filipino-American immigration lawyer Jath Shao.
Apart from the Philippines, at least the following countries allow for dual citizenship:
Consult an immigration lawyer or your Philippine consulate or embassy for further details on whether you are eligible for dual citizenship in your current country.
The CFO’s full guide on RA 9225 can be found here. – Rappler.com