You and your family can reap the opportunities and benefits of Philippine citizenship for generations to come.
Dual citizenship offers opportunities to live, work and reside in another country. Countries such as Cyprus and the Comoros offer economic citizenship (and passports that come with citizenship) as an insurance policy that is one of kind. Whatever happens, it means that you will always have a place to go live, work, invest and raise a family. There are new doors opened to you that might not be available to anyone else. Best of all, your descendants, like your children and your grandchildren might benefit too.
Increasingly in multicultural societies, many people will have been born overseas or have at least one parent born in another country. This would be the case for many families with Filipino heritage. If you have any familial connection to the Philippines you probably have or are eligible for dual citizenship. So how do you get Philippine citizenship?
Am I eligible for Philippine citizenship?
There are two main ways to get citizenship. You should note that the jus sanguinis (right of blood) principle of citizenship is adhered to in the Philippines. It means that Philippine citizenship is inherited through your parent’s citizenship of the Philippines. This principle is reflected in the Philippine Constitution of 1987. It states that someone is a Filipino if their mother or father are citizens of the Philippines.
Citizenship by Descent
Let’s explore how this is effected for someone interested in gaining citizenship by descent. In the Philippines, someone who is eighteen years of age or over, and was born to at least one parent who was a Filipino at the time of their birth may be recognised as a dual citizen. Someone born before January 17, 1973, to Filipino mothers who elect Philippine citizenship when they are eighteen are also recognised as citizens.
Reacquisition of Citizenship
What if you gave up Philippine citizenship? You can get it back. Up until 2003, natural-born Filipinos who acquired another nationality through naturalisation automatically lost their Philippine citizenship.
However, the Republic Act No. 9225, known also as the Dual Citizenship Law allowed former Filipinos to re-acquire or retain their Philippine citizenship. Republic Act No. 9225 specifies that natural-born citizens of the Philippines who become citizens of another country have not lost their Philippine citizenship. Former Filipinos only need to apply to re-acquire or retain their Philippine citizenship and take an oath of allegiance. (This includes former Filipinos who, after Republic Act No. 9225 started acquired citizenship of another country; in this case, former Filipinos must apply to retain their Philippine citizenship).
You can include your children in your application to retain or reacquire Philippine citizenship, which is consistent with the principle of jus sanguinis citizenship. For this reason, spouses who are not Filipino by descent cannot apply for citizenship by way of marriage but must naturalise instead.
Citizenship by Naturalisation
So what are your options if you are not eligible for Philippine citizenship by descent? Citizenship by naturalisation is one option.
To be eligible under the Republic Act 9139, also known as The Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000, the applicant must be:
Of course, if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements above, this route might be for you. To be eligible under the Commonwealth Act No. 473, also known as the Revised Naturalization Act of the Philippines the applicant must:
Exemptions from the ten-year residency requirement are:
Of course, you should seek advice from the Philippine embassy or consulate, or seek legal advice.
What are the benefits of Philippine citizenship?
Like in any country, citizenship affords civil, political and economic privileges. Filipino citizens have the right to:
Own real property in the Philippines
Different rules apply for land and real estate ownership for foreigners. Under Republic Act No. 4726, no more than 40 % of apartments or units in a building can be foreign-owned. Foreigners cannot also own land outright. It could simplify matters if you are inheriting property or land in the Philippines, or even give you the option of retiring in the Philippines.
Engage in business or commerce unimpeded by restrictions on foreigners
There are restrictive conditions on foreigners wishing to start a business in the Philippines, and at a minimum, a joint-venture arrangement with a Filipino might be necessary. If you are a citizen foreigner limitations on ownership will not apply.
Practice one’s profession
Practising one’s profession seems a clear enough benefit, but only if you are not a dual citizen. For example, dual citizenship will bar you from employment in the Philippine government under CSC Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 23, s. 2016. Business Mirror noted that foreigners and dual citizens of the Philippines cannot teach in Philippine universities without first renouncing their non-Philippine citizenships. Any change to academic staff falls within the remit of the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines which regularly reviews the Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (RFINL). The RFINL prescribes foreign ownership limits and professions that can be practised by foreigners in the Philippines. This is an area to watch.
Access a Philippine passport
Holding a passport is clear and undeniable proof of citizenship, giving you the travel privileges that a passport affords you. A second passport can change how easily you can enter another country. For example, Australians cannot enter Brazil without a visa, whereas Philippine passports afford visa-free entry to Brazil.
From June 2017 Taiwan began ending on July 31, 2018. It gives Philippine citizens a chance to enter Taiwan visa-free for 30-days.
In South Korea, Jeju-bound tour groups from the Philippines can travel to other parts of South Korea for five days without a visa, if they transfer at Incheon or Gimhae.
In New Zealand, Philippine passport holders who are planning to visit New Zealand for less than 60 days will no longer need to pay the application fee of PHP6,260 for paper submission or NZD165 for online submission, in getting a New Zealand Visitor Visa.
The Philippines is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community. As such, ASEAN members have committed to ASEAN lanes at their international airports, a commitment that benefits Philippine passport holders. There are already ASEAN lanes at Kuala Lumpur and Yangon.
The Philippine passport has also had a number of improvements. Conde Nast dubbed the new Philippine passport as the World’s Most Secure Passport, noting the improved security features. Gone too are the days of five-year validities. In August 2017, the Philippine government extended the validity of its passports from five to ten years.
Vote in Philippine elections
This may not be the most pressing reason to gain dual citizenship, but it is a citizenship right nonetheless. Overseas voters everywhere are growing in number and have the power to shift policies and governments. The Philippine diaspora is educated, upwardly-mobile and well-off and in a unique position to influence the Philippines, hopefully for the better. If you are a Philippine citizen you can register as an overseas absentee voter, or by establishing residency in the area of the Philippines where you will vote and registering that way.
Tax is based on residency, not citizenship
This can be a sticking point for many considering a second citizenship. Some countries, like the United States, tax individuals on their worldwide income, unless there is a double taxation treaty in force. The Philippines has double taxation treaties with about 39 countries. In general:
Faster naturalisation in Spain
If you are a Philippine citizen, you have a two year naturalisation period for Spanish citizenship, I covered that in a previous post on getting Spanish citizenship.
A second citizenship will open doors and create opportunities
There are tremendous benefits to having a second citizenship, even one from the Philippines. The idea of having an option to live somewhere, and not be the exclusive subject of one government can be liberating. Many migrants can attest to this for as long as migration has been possible.
You can go more places, work abroad more freely, invest with fewer restrictions and at the extreme end, escape to a better life. You and your family can reap the opportunities and benefits of Philippine citizenship for generations to come.