Dual Citizenship In The US And Canada

Written by: David Scott

Table of Contents

    What Is Dual Citizenship?

    A person with dual citizenship is a citizen of two nations at the same time. While there are some countries where having two citizenships at the same time is not allowed, like in Singapore, most countries will allow you to be a proud citizen of two nations at the same time. It is important to mention though, that acquiring it almost always requires you to go through a lengthy legal process. Despite having to face bureaucratic hurdles, more and more people choose dual citizenship, and for a good reason.   

    Benefits of Dual Citizenship

    Most people think of dual citizenship as a form of safety net. Even if you don’t plan to live and work in another country, having two passports can be something to consider. In today’s rapidly changing world, people seem to be more politically divided than ever. I have heard countless people expressing their feelings that their country’s policies are against their beliefs and they are thinking of leaving if things continue the way they are now. Maybe you are not in this situation now, but people who come from countries than suffered through Nazism, communism, or other totalitarian regimes certainly value the safety net aspect of this opportunity. 

    Having dual citizenship can also make it effortless for you to move for your career and opens up many different investment opportunities that are usually only available to citizens. Employers do not like dealing with the bureaucracy that comes with hiring a non-citizen and it can automatically decrease the chances of you being picked for the position. Also, many countries will only grant work permits for people with certain trades and professions, so even if your employer wishes to hire you, they might not be able to. As for business and investment opportunities, being a citizen in the country where you’re doing business has clear advantages. Businesses owned by citizens are often eligible for government subsidies that foreign-owned businesses are excluded from.  Many countries also have restrictions on what foreigners can invest in. For example, some will not allow foreign citizens to own real estate while almost all of them ban them from owning farmland. 

    Cost benefits are also on the top of the list of benefits for most. You can significantly reduce your taxes by spending most of the year in the country with the lower taxes. You’ll also gain access to services provided for free for citizens. For example, as a US citizen who is holding a Canadian passport, you will have access to free health care in Canada.  Why would you pay a fortune in the US for the same or in many cases lower quality service if you can get it for free? Online professionals and pensioners should also consider acquiring dual citizenship. Living in a country with significantly lower expenses can drastically improve your standard of living. While having a $2000 budget to live off every month might not seem much, there are many places around the world where you could “live like a king” with that amount of money. 

    Dual Citizenship In The US

    Although the United States accepts dual citizenship, not all countries do. In some cases, such as when a child is born in the United States to parents who live in another country, dual citizenship is immediately granted. Unless the parents are foreign diplomats, the child is usually naturalized as a US citizen (in addition to the country of residence of their parents). Dual citizenship can also be obtained through particular legal procedures, such as when a foreign national marries a United States citizen. Anyone who is not a naturalized citizen of the country in which they reside is considered a foreign national. Dual citizenship is not automatic in this instance. Dual citizenship may be awarded if the foreign national has been a permanent resident for at least three years, has been married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years, and meets additional eligibility requirements. A permanent resident is someone who has been granted legal permission to dwell in the United States indefinitely. Permanent residents have the right to work in the United States, even if they have citizenship in another nation.

    Immigration Rules for the United States

    You’ll need to take many steps to become a citizen if you weren’t born in the United States and don’t have parents who are citizens. To begin, you’ll need to apply for a green card, often known as “permanent residence,” which will allow you to live permanently in the United States. Green cards are granted based on having close family members who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States, being offered a job in the United States in a field where the employer is unable to find a ready, able, and willing U.S. worker, or having $1 million to invest in a U.S. business. You can apply to become a naturalized American citizen after five years as a permanent resident of the United States (at least half of which was spent in the United States) and have to meet certain other requirements. The citizenship application procedure in the United States entails an interview and exams in which you must demonstrate your ability to speak and understand English as well as properly answer a series of questions about American history and government. You must also swear allegiance to the United States and be willing to serve in the United States Armed Forces if called upon.

    Dual Citizenship In Canada

    After obtaining a second citizenship in another nation, a Canadian citizen retains his or her Canadian citizenship. Citizens of Canada cannot lose their citizenship unless they deliberately renounce it through a lengthy legal process. Dual citizenship does not usually apply to people of many other countries who seek Canadian citizenship. When a citizen of a foreign country obtains a Canadian passport, some countries will remove citizenship; others may simply refuse to acknowledge the new citizenship. You must meet certain requirements to become a Canadian citizen:

    • Be a permanent resident
    • Have lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 5 years
    • Have filed your taxes if you need to
    • Pass a test on your rights, responsibilities, and knowledge of Canada
    • Prove your language skills

    There may be extra criteria depending on your scenario.

    Immigration Rules for Canada

    If you were not born in Canada, you must first apply to become a permanent resident of the country before applying for citizenship. The key immigration categories, as in the United States, are family, skilled work, and investment/entrepreneurship. You can apply for Canadian citizenship after living in Canada for three of the previous four years and not having been convicted of any crimes. Prepare to take a written test to demonstrate your proficiency in English or French. You must also pass an exam demonstrating your knowledge of Canada’s history as well as its citizens’ rights and responsibilities.

    U.S. or Canada: Which Country Is Best to Call Home?


    The gross domestic product (GDP) of Canada in 2019 was $1.73 trillion, while the US GDP was $21.4 trillion. While the United States is a considerably larger economic superpower, citizens’ incomes are much more tightly linked. The median income for American households is $68,703, according to the US Census Bureau. The median salary in Canada in 2019 was $62,900. Taxes can be a significant distinction between the two countries. Individual income tax brackets in the United States range from 10% to 37%, whereas tax rates in Canada range from 15% to 33%.Singles earning more than $40,526 per year in the United States pay 22% in taxes, whereas singles earning less than $49,020 in Canada pay only 15%.

    The Health Care System in the US

    The largest difference between health care in Canada and the United States is that around half of Americans get insurance via their employment. This private insurance is often funded by a mix of company and employee contributions. Private insurance costs and coverage differ by state and employment. Americans pay more for healthcare, but they may also face unanticipated or unexpected expenditures. There are several private insurers, each with its own set of reimbursement standards. Deductibles and deductibles differ significantly. Patients may incur substantial out-of-pocket payments for emergency care or due to circumstances beyond their control.

    The Canadian Healthcare System

    The Canadian government pays for health insurance. The majority of services provided by a hospital or a general practitioner’s office are covered by government insurance. The government of Canada offers healthcare insurance, but it does not operate hospitals or directly employ doctors. Citizens in Canada can and do purchase private health insurance for certain services under the Canadian healthcare system. Dental and aesthetic services, for example, are not covered by government insurance. There are also some small coverage discrepancies between Canadian provinces and states in the US.

    If you wish to know a little more about living in Canada, please read our previous article: Living in Canada.

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