You can get Spanish citizenship with just two years residency."
There is an old Chinese proverb that goes like this. There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same. To borrow crudely, the path to citizenship can vary widely, from nation to nation. Continually shifting international norms indeed shape national practices and their understanding of dual citizenship.
The conception of citizenship is constantly changing. Some countries are moving to allow multiple citizenships. Some are trying to keep it to just one. Others are wanting to wind back dual citizenships altogether on the basis of perceived divided loyalties and the need to promote national sovereignty.
For example, Norway now allows dual citizenship, after its government voted to allow it March 2017. Norwegians saw dual citizenship as a natural right with the promise of its citizens bringing home their global experience. In Papua New Guinea, the government there believed that its citizens were at a disadvantage, and finally in March 2017, Papua New Guinea permitted dual citizenship too.
But the pendulum can swing the other way. In Denmark, the anti-immigration party, Partij voor de Vrijheid founded by Geert Wilders drafted legislation proposing banning Dutch citizens from having dual nationality, barely two years after Denmark brought in laws permitting it. In Belgium, there was also the suggestion of removing dual citizenship rights for Belgian citizens of foreign descent. In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front stated, “I am against dual nationality outside Europe, so I ask to choose their nationality...”
Globalism, in trade and in travel has shifted somewhat from being an international panacea to an international problem. Limiting citizenships is seen to protect the state and promote better social cohesion and integration.
As recently as 2016, the Philippines even outlawed dual citizens from working in government positions. Up until the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003, working in a government office, for fourteen years was not considered a problem. The Philippine Government wants its employees to have unequivocal allegiance to the Philippines.
The economic drivers for dual citizenship leaves the system vulnerable to corruption. Venezuelan passports permit visa-free travel to over 130 countries. In the midst of a total economic and political crisis, six Venezuelan government employees were caught selling citizenships to desperate Syrians.
You can get Spanish citizenship with two years residency
Spain's approach tolerates dual citizenship. In Spain, this tolerance reaches into centuries of its history as the centre of colonial and religious power.
Spanish nationality law operates on the basis of jus sanguinis (Latin for right of blood). Citizenship is conferred by having one or both parents who already citizens. This contrasts with jus soli (Latin for right of the soil), where citizenship is conferred by where you were born.
It is the Spanish system of jus sanguinis that underpins the specific entitlements of citizens of former Spanish colonies to citizenship. In two years of residency in Spain, citizens of Ibero-American countries (which covers the majority of former Spanish-speaking colonies in South America), Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea can apply for citizenship. This is better than the standard residency period of ten years.
The tests for citizenship are generally as follows: prove you are worthy of citizenship and demonstrate a level of integration into Spanish society. This will mean learning Spanish and require you to pass the test introduced in 2015 on the constitutional and socio-cultural aspects of Spain (the CCSE test). If you come from a country where Spanish is not the official language, you will also have to pass the Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language (the DELE test). Should you get this far, new citizens must then swear or promise loyalty to the Spanish King, the Spanish Constitution and Spanish laws.
New citizens must declare that they renounce their former nationality. However, this isn’t the case for natural-born citizens of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Portugal who can keep their old citizenship as well as their new Spanish one.
However, if you are a citizen of a third country, who then applies for Spanish citizenship, this will require a renouncement of that third citizenship. For example, if you are Portuguese and a US citizen who then applies for Spanish citizenship, you will have to declare that you renounced your US citizenship. Getting advice is best if you are serious about getting Spanish citizenship where you need to relinquish your former citizenships.
What benefits EU Citizenship confers
If you do become a Spaniard, you are conferred EU citizenship. As an EU citizen, you will have rights relating to voting and access to the EU system. EU citizens can live and work in any of the EU member states. Wherever an EU citizen moves, that citizen can avail of the rights and privileges offered by the EU country in which they live, including health, education, unemployment programs and pensions.
In my view, getting Spanish citizenship might be worthwhile if you originally from Latin America. Latin Americans will already be familiar with Spanish culture, traditions and customs, and be able to speak Spanish (meaning you don't have to pass the DELE test).
Within two years of residency and upon receiving your Spanish citizenship, moving freely around the EU in search of work is possible. But a word of caution on migrating to Spain. As of December 2016, Spain’s unemployment was still 18.4% making difficult to find work. When work does come, and supposing you are a resident, you will be subject to Personal Income Tax (PIT) on your worldwide income. This might be of some annoyance if you have income-producing assets such as rental or investment income outside Spain. You would need advice on any double taxation treaties in place that might prevent double taxation.
But wherever you reside, and wherever you are a citizen, there will be differing interpretations of citizenship predicated on a nation’s preferences and tolerances for cultural and political pluralism.
In every case, it is always wise to seek advice.