Citizenship essentially enters you into equal partnership with your country (as an adult, at least), affording you all available rights in exchange for fulfilling your responsibilities. Without citizenship, you are in an unequal partnership. You must fulfill all your responsibilities (obeying laws, paying taxes), but you are denied access to the voice in government that voting and public service provide.

Dual Citizenship
Approximately 90 countries around the world, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, allow individuals to hold dual citizenship. While there are perks to being a citizen of two countries at once, there are also drawbacks. As a dual citizen, you may be liable for paying taxes in both countries, or have to leave your home in one country to serve in the military (a citizenship requirement in some places) of the other. Countries that allow only one citizenship include China, Iran, Japan, Thailand, Denmark, and the Philippines.

Citizenship Problems
The fact that not all countries have the same laws regarding citizenship can cause serious problems, especially for the children of unwary new parents living abroad. According to the United Nations, there are roughly 214 million people who are living outside of their home country (the country in which they have citizenship), for work or other reasons. Many of them are of child-bearing age; belonging to them are an estimated 12 million children without citizenship of any country—not to mention those whose citizenship is different from either, or both, of their parents’.

Without citizenship, a child cannot cross national borders—which requires a passport, which requires citizenship. With differing citizenship rights, the interests of the child and the parents might conflict.

Let’s take a look at two problematic citizenship cases.

1. Citizen of Nowhere

Chloe Goldring was born in 2009 in Brussels, Belgium, where her parents, Ian and Yamina, were working as consultants. Neither Ian nor Yamina were citizens of Belgium, and the law of jus soli in Belgium does not apply to children of non-Belgian citizens who are living in the country temporarily. So Chloe was not granted Belgian citizenship. But, what about jus sanguinis? Here’s where it gets complicated.

While Chloe’s father was a Canadian citizen, it was due to Canada’s jus sanguinis law. He was actually born in Bermuda, where his Canadian father was working at the time. Unfortunately for Chloe, the Canadian Citizenship Act had been amended just before her birth, through Bill C-37. This bill limits the ability to pass citizenship to offspring born abroad to one generation. Since Chloe’s father was also born abroad, she was the second generation, and thus, disqualified from Canadian citizenship jus sanguinis. Chloe’s last option for citizenship was through her mother. However, Yamina was Algerian, and that country’s citizenship law did not allow Yamina to pass on her Algerian citizenship to her baby because she was married to a foreign man and living abroad.

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This is the official Siksika Nation coat of arms. The Siksika Nation is a band in southern Alberta and is one of four bands that form the Blackfoot Confederacy.

While holding dual citizenship generally means being a citizen of more than one country, for a group of people who live in areas of both Canada and the United States, the term takes on a different meaning. These people are members of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Four indigenous groups make up today’s Blackfoot Confederacy, who live on reserves in areas of Alberta in Canada and on reservations in areas of Montana in the United States. The Blackfoot Confederacy considers itself to be a sovereign state and each band has its own constitution, leaders, and legal system. If you are born to a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and are entitled to Canadian or American citizenship as well, you’ll have dual citizenship.