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7 min read

Beyond "I Do": The Benefits Of Citizenship By Marriage

Citizenship by marriage is a way for individuals to enjoy rights and privileges through marriage with a citizen of another country. This article aims to show a clear overview of citizenship by marriage, its meaning and the basics of citizenship acquisition.

Citizenship is a legal status that confers certain privileges to individuals, including the right to live, work and utilize social services within a country's borders. It entails obligations such as obeying the country’s laws and paying taxes. It might interest you to become a citizen of another country. If you play your cards right, you might have unexpected benefits, such as a better tax situation and more freedom than in your place of birth.

Understanding the basics of citizenship acquisition will help you grasp the significance of citizenship by marriage and what the process usually involves, such as submitting certain documents and undergoing assessments to become eligible. Keep reading to explore how marriage can open new doors to a world of opportunities.

 

Factors such as length of marriage and time lived within a countrys borders can affect eligibility

Factors such as length of marriage and time lived within a countrys borders can affect eligibility

REQUIREMENTS AND ELIGIBILITY

To acquire citizenship by marriage, specific requirements must be met. Firstly, the most crucial factor is a legally recognized marriage between the applicant and a citizen of the target country. Cohabitation or another informal type of relationship will not qualify.

However, the specific requirements vary depending on the laws and regulations of the country. For example, you can become a Portuguese citizen if you’ve been in a de facto partnership with a Portuguese citizen for more than three years. However, it only takes one year of marriage with a Spanish citizen and having lived with them for a year in Spain to become a Spanish citizen.

Factors such as the duration of the marriage and the time lived within a country’s borders may affect eligibility. Understanding the requirements and eligibility criteria is crucial to navigating the application process smoothly and increasing the chances of a successful outcome. Once you meet the criteria, you can go ahead and apply for citizenship.

 

These procedures are often complex, but following instructions and meeting deadlines will increase your chance of success

These procedures are often complex, but following instructions and meeting deadlines will increase your chance of success

APPLICATION PROCESS

As you might know, paperwork varies from country to country. However, here’s a general outline of the application process for citizenship by marriage:

  • Gather the necessary documents: collect all the required documents, such as a marriage certificate, identification documents, electricity bills and any additional documents that the immigration authorities might require. Double-check whether you have the correct and updated version of each of them.
  • Fill out application forms accurately and completely: go through them as often as needed. One extra revision will save you lots of time and money. Pay close attention to what’s being asked and follow the steps verbatim.
  • Adhere to instructions and ensure timely submission: carefully understand and follow the instructions provided by the immigration authorities. Meet the specific deadlines, or your application will be delayed or rejected.

These procedures are often quite complex and time-consuming, but following the instructions and meeting the deadlines will increase your chances of success. If you still need help with your situation, remember that you can contact me to find a way to make substantial changes in your life.

 

The purpose behind the interview is to verify that the marriage is legitimate and to assess whether you know your spouses background

The purpose behind the interview is to verify that the marriage is legitimate and to assess whether you know your spouses background

INTERVIEW AND BACKGROUND CHECK

The interview and background check is one of the critical steps of the process. You might’ve filled out the applications and submitted the required documents, but if your marriage is not genuine, all the efforts will be worthless. The love for your spouse is the first step, and the benefits that come with being married to them can be a massive bonus. Here’s a general outline of the interview process and tips to help you navigate it:

  • The fundamental purpose behind the interview is to check whether the marriage is legitimate and assess if you (the applicant) know your spouse’s background. It’s of utmost importance to provide accurate information and prove the genuine nature of the relationship.
  • Background check: the immigration authorities might conduct a background check as a part of the process.  This step ensures that neither applicant nor the spouse has been involved in criminal or fraudulent activities.
  • Honesty and integrity: it will not help to migrate just to marry a local and get citizenship. Take some time to know about your spouse’s background, from family members to personal interests. Also, be sure to gather supporting evidence, such as photographs and shared financial documents.

Without a doubt, preparation is key. Once your relationship is bona fide, you must be prepared to answer all the questions, know your spouse's background and, of course, maintain a respectful and cooperative attitude throughout the interview process. In the next section, you’ll know the potential challenges you might encounter and some considerations to overcome them easily.

 

Be sure to provide truthful evidence as providing a compelling set of documents can ensure your success in the process

Be sure to provide truthful evidence as providing a compelling set of documents can ensure your success in the process

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS AND EVIDENCE

If you’ve read so far, you might already know some of the typical documents needed for this procedure. Now, let us delve further into the subject to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the types of documents that are likely to be required for submission:

  • Joint bank statements: showing that both your spouse and you have shared financial responsibilities can be solid evidence of a bona fide relationship.
  • Travel records: if you’ve travelled together, providing copies of boarding passes or passport stamps can be proof of a legitimate relationship.
  • Utility bills: utility bills in both partners’ names can establish a shared living situation.
  • Sworn statements from family and friends: any individual who can attest to the authenticity of the relationship can boost your chances of a successful application.

As mentioned in the previous section, honesty is crucial to getting citizenship. Make sure to provide genuine evidence to support your case, as providing a convincing set of supporting documents can help you ensure your success. However, getting your documents on point and having a genuine marriage may not be enough. In some cases, you need to integrate into the culture of your spouse’s country.

 

You will get more out of your expat experience by speaking the local language and showing respect for the people around you

You will get more out of your expat experience by speaking the local language and showing respect for the people around you

LANGUAGE AND INTEGRATION REQUIREMENTS

In addition to the previous aspects, some countries require applicants to reach a certain level in the national language and integrate into society. These criteria are in place to make sure that applicants can communicate in the local language and are actively integrating into the society and culture of their spouses’ country.

In one of the episodes of my Expat Money Show podcast, I had a captivating conversation with Mike, a British expat who left the UK and moved to Poland to build a parallel system. Among other topics, we talked about how crucial it is to be a part of society and not just hang out with expats or people from your country. You will enjoy the expat experience more by speaking the local language and showing respect to the people around you.

Other than connecting more deeply with locals, some countries require a certain proficiency level in the official language to ensure that individuals can communicate and participate in the social, political and economic aspects of their new home.

Countries like Estonia, Austria and Spain require applicants to pass a language proficiency test which assesses the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of applicants.

Integration requirements are put in place so that applicants make an effort to adapt and become active members of society. These requirements usually include taking part in cultural integration programs or completing courses about the country’s history, institutions and values. By fulfilling these requirements, applicants showcase their commitment to becoming fully integrated members of the community.

Countries like Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and France offer integration programs aimed at helping expats learn the country's culture and language.

 

If you are facing many challenges, consider contacting the Expat Money team to expedite the entire process

If you are facing many challenges, consider contacting the Expat Money team to expedite the entire process

COMMON CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS

Becoming a citizen of a new country entails some obstacles you’ll need to overcome. Understanding them will give you a considerable advantage and improve your chances of a successful application. Some of the common challenges are:

  • Language barriers: as I mentioned in the previous section, knowing the local language is a huge plus, if not a requirement, for becoming a citizen of a new country. Instead of learning the language in a new country, take some courses before packing your bags.
  • Address cultural differences: just like languages, learning a new culture requires time. Instead of facing multiple uncomfortable situations that you could have avoided, study the local culture. They will appreciate your efforts. Knowledge of their language and culture is a major sign of respect.  
  • Paperwork: this part might be the hardest, but all the efforts will pay off if done correctly. Create a checklist of all the required documents, seek guidance from immigration authorities, or hire a professional who specializes in immigration law. Keep your documents organized to make the process easier.

If you’re facing specific challenges, consider hiring a professional to streamline the citizenship process in your target country. They’ll provide you with customized solutions according to your needs.

 

You cannot choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose a citizenship that is aligned with your goals and purposes

You cannot choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose a citizenship that is aligned with your goals and purposes

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF CITIZENSHIP

Acquiring citizenship by marriage not only grants rights but also implies certain responsibilities. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is a crucial component of integrating into a new country.

Some rights you may enjoy:

  • Voting rights;
  • Access to public services;
  • Freedom of movement;
  • Employment and social benefits.

Some responsibilities you may have:

  • Obeying laws;
  • Civic engagement;
  • Defence of the country (military service);
  • Paying taxes.

This last one might be the one you dislike the most. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely. You might not choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose a citizenship that aligns with your purpose and goals.

 

Related article: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency

 

Acquiring country may require renunciation of previous citizenship due to loyalty concerns or conflicts with dual allegiance

Acquiring country may require renunciation of previous citizenship due to loyalty concerns or conflicts with dual allegiance

DUAL CITIZENSHIP AND RENUNCIATION

Dual citizenship allows individuals to be citizens of two or more countries simultaneously, granting them rights and privileges in each. It offers advantages like maintaining a connection to their country of origin, travel and property ownership, and access to benefits in the acquired country. Laws on dual citizenship vary, so it's essential to research the specific regulations of both countries involved.

The acquiring country may require renouncing previous citizenship due to concerns about loyalty or conflicts with dual allegiance. Considerations for renunciation include the impact on legal rights, travel, property, and relationships. Seeking legal advice is recommended to navigate the complexities.

To make an informed decision, evaluate personal ties, cultural identity, and practical implications. Thorough research, professional advice, and reflection on personal priorities will help in deciding on dual citizenship or renunciation.

 

Obtaining a new citizenship by marrying the right person can be a solution to regaining your freedom and securing a new life abroad

Obtaining a new citizenship by marrying the right person can be a solution to regaining your freedom and securing a new life abroad

CONCLUSION

In an increasingly globalized world, international couples have become a common sight. People migrate for various factors, such as economic opportunities and safety. It is not uncommon for individuals to fall in love with someone from a different country and make a permanent home in a place far from their family and friends.

If you’re married to someone from a different country and want to get a new citizenship, you need to consider factors such as paperwork, language and integration requirements, along with all the challenges that may arise through the process. Also, you must decide whether the new citizenship can help you reach your financial, personal and lifestyle goals.

As a seasoned expert consultant with over 20 years living abroad, I know the nitty-gritty of the subject and helped multiple clients reach their goals. Getting a new citizenship (and marrying the right person) might be an excellent solution to reclaim your freedom and secure your new life abroad. If this sounds good to you, contact me, and I’ll evaluate your case.

 


WORK WITH ME

I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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