Citizenship through legislation?

Getting US Citizenship for your child born in the Philippines

Yep, you read the title correctly.  Did you know that it is possible to obtain Philippine Citizenship through legislation?

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How?  Why?  Who can get it?

Well, the truth is, if you are a foreigner and have made some contribution to the country, or done something that has brought honor or other good things for the Philippines, it is possible that the Legislature of the Philippines may honor you by bestowing upon you Philippine Citizenship.

As has been pointed out here on the site, generally, in order to become a naturalized citizen of the Philippines, you must renounce your US Citizenship, or the Citizenship of whatever country you are a citizen of.   However, if you were to gain your Philippine Citizenship through the legislative process, renunciation of your previous citizenship is not necessary.

Philippine Congress Hearing

Philippine Congress Hearing

The only problem, or downside is that very few people are able to be recognized as a citizen through legislation.  You must have provided some extraordinary service or act to the Philippines for that to happen.  Last year, to my knowledge, only one person became a Philippine Citizen through legislation, and he was a famous Basketball player in the Philippines (an imported American talent who came here to play in the Philippine Basketball Association).

So, what about you, are you willing to renounce your previous citizenship in order to become a Philippine Citizen?  Or do you think you may have a chance for citizenship through the legislative process?

Comments

    • says

      Hi Rick – It depends on your heritage. If you are a former Philippine Citizen who has been naturalized in another country, then you can get dual citizenship in the Philippines. If you are a foreigner like me, then no, there is no path to dual citizenship. Under Philippine law you must renounce your former Citizenship if you want to be a Philippine Citizen.

      • Chuck says

        All nations require renunciation of your nationality for naturalization. Including the USA. But are there no dual nationals in the USA? Of course there are. The Philippines only requires you to renounce your nationality verbally for ceremony only. They will not haul you down to the US embassy to file citizenship renunciation forms and make you burn your US passport. lol

        • Warren Olsen says

          There are many countries that don’t require you to renounce citizenship in order to become a citizen. Eg, UK, Australia, New Zealand.

          There are also many countries whose citizenship cannot be renounced. This means that even if you acquire another citizenship and surrender your former passport, you can just go down to the embassy and get another one. Because you are a citizen for life!

          The UK and New Zealand are examples of these.

          Also, most countries don’t tax their citizens on their world income unless they are “tax residents” in the country. Australia and New Zealand, for example, only tax residents (whether citizens or not) on their world income. Non-residents (including non-resident citizens) only pay tax in the country where the income is earned.

          So;

          1. It is important to remember that neither the US nor the Philippines are models for how things work in the rest of the world; and

          2. Be careful about the tax implications of citizenships that you may acquire. Personally, I will never be acquiring the citizenship of any country that taxes its non-resident citizens. So US citizenship is definitely not on my agenda.

          One of the advantages of a Philippine SRRV is that foreign pensions are tax-free in the Philippines. I don’t really understand why any foreigner would want to stuff up such a beneficial arrangement by acquiring citizenship (Unless you are really keen to buy land here).

          • says

            Hi Warren, some of your assumptions are off base here. Some are not.

            For example… yes, many countries like UK, Australia and NZ (and the USA too) allow their citizens to be dual citizens. However, the Philippines does not allow foreigners to naturalize unless they renounce their foreign citizenship. So even if these other countries allow it, the Philippines says “we won’t allow you to become a Philippine citizen if you keep your foreign citizenship.” It is that easy.

            I understand that the USA and the Philippines are not models of how things work everywhere in the world. Fact is, neither are Australia, the UK or Australia. There are differences all over the world, not just in those countries. Fact is, this site is about Philippine Citizenship. I am American, and most of my readers are American, so the USA plays a big role in what I write about as well.

            Foreign Pensions are tax exempt in the Philippines under any type of visa. They only will be taxed if you are a Citizen. Nothing special about the SRRV in that respect.

      • Yaz says

        Hi Bob, if I’m willing to renounce my former citizenship in order to become a Filipino citizen, then what is the procedure, how do I start?
        Thanks.

        • says

          Hi Yaz – If you have decided to naturalize in the Philippines, your first step should be to get an attorney, and he can help you with the procedure. You will need to have an attorney for all of the court hearings.

          • Yaz says

            Hello Bob, thanks for your reply..I will do that, do i still need to live in the Philippines for years first before I naturalize??

          • says

            Hi Yaz – If you have a Philippine spouse, then you must live here for 5 years before beginning the process of naturalization. IF you are not married to a Filipino, you cannot start for 10 years.

      • EM says

        “Philippines does not allow foreigners to naturalize unless they renounce their foreign citizenship.” There may be an exception–my husband was born in the US to parents who were both Filipino citizens. He is working on obtaining dual citizenship, which is possible, depending on birth year. That said, it is not an easy process and lots of old paperwork is required (parents’ marriage certificate, documents proving parents’ nationality at time of his birth, etc). Are there any attorneys or agencies in the US who can help track down originals/certified copies of these old documents?) My husband is in his 40s.

        • says

          My point still stands. Your husband is not trying to obtain citizenship through naturalization, but due to the circumstances of his birth. I specifically said that foreigners cannot NATURALIZE without renouncing their citizenship. You are talking about something completely different.

          • EM says

            Ok, I see. I thought he was “naturalizating” since he hasn’t been a citizen for 40+ years. But I do recall a form about “delayed registering of birth” so I guess he’s requesting dual citizenship as a “natural born Filipino”….?

  1. Matt says

    Hey Bob…

    Under Australian law if you renounce your Aussie citizenship, you can reclaim it at any time pretty much just for the asking (assuming you haven’t turned into a drug dealer/mass murderer etc in the meantime). So what happens if I renounce my Aussie citizenship, gain Filipino citizenship, then reclaim my Aussie one? Do I automatically lose the Filipino one? Or is that a sneaky way to dual citizenship?

    Matt

  2. Leandro says

    I’m surprised. I known for years that the Philippines offer dual citizenship. However, I never knew that a foreigner must renounce his citizenship to become a Philippine citizen. I’m a filipino by birth and I believe that is unfair for them. They stayed more than 10 years continuously, adopted the culture, learned the language, and been a good law abiding resident of the country. I believe that foreigners should not renounce their other citizenship if Filipinos by birth or blood can obtain other citizenships.

    • says

      Hi Leandro – Many countries are the same. For example, if a Filipino becomes naturalized in the USA, they must renounce their Philippine Citizenship too. So, I guess it’s quite reciprocal.

      • Paul says

        Hi Bob:

        Filipinos are not required to renounce their Philippine citizenship once they are naturalized as US citizens. Under Philippine law, however, they automatically lose their Philippine citizenship once they are naturalized of citizens of another country.

        The Philippines, though, cannot track all Filipinos who have renounced their citizenships unless a person goes to the Consulate and actually informs them that they are now naturalized citizens of the country they adopt.

        There are instances where Filipinos, who are now US citizens, visit the Consulate to renounce their Philippine citizenship (expressly) as a requirements for their jobs that require single allegiance, ie. military, FBI, CIA, federal clearance requirements, etc.

        • says

          Hi Paul – I think there is a bit of confusion here.. this site is not about Filipinos getting US Citizenship, this site is about Foreigners (Americans, Europeans, etc) becoming citizens of the Philippines. Under Philippine law, you must indeed renounce your foreign citizenship.

  3. Pedro says

    Just a quick word, I took out Australian citizenship a few years ago and I simply kept my British citizenship and passport. Didn’t bother telling anyone and i just renew both passports when I need to :)

  4. Pedro says

    Bob, given the way things work today, for instance my automatic entry to any european country with my British passport, I am not so sure of the actual legal situations. I do know that I have used and presented BOTH passports at the customs/immigration counters of several countries and the agents have never batted an eyelid. I usually only use my Australian passport for entry/exit to Australia then present my British passport everywhere else.

  5. Kevin says

    I’m going to have to say I disagree with you Bob. The actual wording is here:
    http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_778.html

    Specifically … U.S. citizens are subject to loss of citizenship if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship. Briefly stated, these acts include: (one of which obtaining naturalization in a foreign state).

    Ok, see the word “intention”? Regardless of what you say to be naturalized, if its not your intention to lose US citizenship then you don’t lose it. (see the voluntarily AND intention? Just because you did any of the below voluntarily, doesn’t mean it was your intention to lose citizenship … that’s why the “and” was put in there. They are implying that there are cases where it can be done voluntarily, but its not your intention to relinquish citizenship). At most that would get you in trouble with the Philippines (because you said it but you didn’t mean it) but that has nothing to do with the US.

    Secondly, the U.S. goes further to explain (see here http://manila.usembassy.gov/service/dual-nationality.html) that …

    “In order for loss of nationality to occur under Section 349 (a)(1), it must be established that the naturalization was obtained voluntarily by a person eighteen years of age or older with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. Such an intention may be shown by the person’s statements or conduct (Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252, 1980), but as discussed below in most cases it is assumed that Americans who are naturalized in other countries intend to keep their U.S. citizenship. As a result, they have both nationalities.”

    So lets say you go and get your dual citizenship, and during the process you renounce U.S citizenship. Point #1) intention (what is actually going on in your head), and Point #2) assumption (the U.S. assumes you mean to keep your U.S. citizenship).

    And as a final point, if it isn’t abundantly clear … read point #6 “formally renouncing U.S. citizenship within the U.S. (but only under strict, narrow statutory conditions) (Sec. 349 (a) (6) INA);”. So, even while you’re in the U.S. and going about to formally renounce your citizenship, it will only be accepted under strict statutory conditions. If its that hard to renounce your citizenship when you’re doing it “formally” in the U.S., what makes anyone think its automatically done just by accepting naturalization in the Philippines?

    • says

      Yes, I know all of this, Kevin, but thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      My thinking on this goes like this… If you say “I hereby renounce my US citizenship,” that is not really renouncing your citizenship. As you say, the US govt does not accept that as having renounced your citizenship.

      Philippine law says that you must renounce your former citizenship. It does not say that you have to do an act that does not renounce, it says you must renounce. So, if you truly want to be a Philippine Citizen, and be so in a legal fashion, you must go all the way and renounce your US citizenship.

      Yes, by doing what you propose, you can keep both, but my view is that you are skirting Philippine law by doing so. I would not feel right about obtaining Philippine citizenship through an act that goes against Philippine law.

      Good luck to you.

      • Pedro says

        I am reading all these as they come through and I am starting to wonder at your angle Bob. You “would not feel right”, really? Well I have 2 points about this, the first is that one should more properly “not feel right” about what the Philippines does. It is displaying it’s mendicant ‘I want but I am not prepared to give’ mentality. It already trains its people to be servants and beggars now you say you support its’ two faced policy. The second point, because I know you will jump in with the ‘this is the Philippines and they can do what they want so you can go home if you don’t like it’ type statements, is the fact that the Philippines is a common law country i.e. based upon English case law (yeah, yeah, americans, americans but american law is also british based) and the Philippines is signatory to enough UN treaties to make their current espoused ‘citizenship’ laws actually illegal in the Philippines (note that, in the Philippines, not in somewhere else). By ‘enough’ I mean under any ONE of several UN treaties, which is probably why the Australian Philippines consulate conducts citizenship ceremonies in Australia that do NOT require renouncing other citizenships i.e. they are aware it is illegal to demand that you renounce your citizenship so they are not game to do so in Australia. It also doesn’t take umpty trumpty years to get it.

        • says

          Pedro – I believe in following the law. It is up to Filipinos to decide what the laws are in their country.

          BTW, when a person becomes a US citizen, that entails losing their previous citizenship, so what is the difference?

          • Stan says

            Bob, naturalizing as a US Citizen DOES NOT entail giving up previous citizenships. Are you really that dense?

          • says

            Stan, it seems you are the dense one. Below is the oath of citizenship that must be taken to become naturalized in the USA. Read the first line carefully.

            I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

            If you know how to read, Stan, it should be clear to you now.

        • Dave says

          Bob, I understand fully what you are saying and mean. You are a honest man with integrity, Your torn between the old homeland and the new. May God bless you and I pray you prosper on any decision you make.

        • Ed says

          Pedro, Bob is trying his best to provide his knowledge of the practical application of Philippine Immigration law (which I well know is correct).
          Notice that Bob has avoided comment on whether Philippine law is right in preventing foreigner permanent residents from being force to choose between the ability to support their families and ongoing contribute to the Philippine economy. We’re *foreigners* here, under sufferance of the Philippines government. No matter our best intentions, we can be kicked out without notice or reason, and our true Pinoy families be damned.
          Is that clear enough?
          Want to live in the Philippines, we can. Respect the law.
          We weren’t born Filipino and thus we have no right to aspire to become Filipino no matter what we care or do. MaGrabe!

      • Ed says

        Bob, I must agree with you. Until I can find a legal way to obtain Philippine citizenship (onerous give current Philippine immigration law), I’m now accustomed to being content that my kids have dual citizenship even though “daddy” and “mommy” can’t.
        Why? so that kids have food to eat!
        Citizenship or food for the kids, pick one, ONLY one.

          • Ed says

            Perhaps in your situation Bob, you could renounce your original citizenship without penalty of loss of foreign income. That’s not always the case. Were I to renounce my original citizenship, that defacto forces termination of my foreign income, since I must be a citizen of the original country to be permitted to continue my business there, totally irrespective of decades of technical and financial contributes back there. It’s a pretty hard and fast one or the other, but can’t have both. Hence that for now I must be happy with my ACR and contribute all I can earn abroad to the Philippines, whereas the other choice is Philippine citizenship but foreign income TERMINATED. Not to mention some tiny future pension.
            Something to seriously consider.
            For those thinking of renouncing, do seriously consider what you will do once your
            foreign income permanently drops to zero.
            I’m not saying you can’t over a period of time invest locally in the Philippines (which means through your wife and/or other Filipinos), but that will take time, a decade or more, and you’ll still be surrendering the half you worked so hard for most of your lifetime back where you came from. Much as I would dearly love to obtain full Philippine citizenship, my responsibility to my family *here* in the Philippines is to keep all my income options going, so that if things fail here I can sill buy baby-milk etc. Don’t expect the government or anyone else to pay for it. Really. Seriously!

  6. Pedro says

    Strange I could have sworn I replied to this earlier.
    Louisiana uses the standard adversarial court system using case law precedents ipso facto it is British based irrespective of how it started way back when.
    Not sure about US citizenship entailing loss of previous citizenship, how does one account for all the dual citizens there e.g. the Israel/american citizens in congress????
    As to ‘following the law’ as I stated earlier I was afraid you would jump in with the knee jerk reaction, which is why, previously, I stated that asking anyone to renounce citizenship is against the UN treaties that the Philippines is a signatory to. IE it is against Filipino law to ask/demand that one renounces one’s prior citizenship. I also stated that the Filipino consulate in Australia conducts citizenship ceremonies THERE without a requirement to renounce, because they know that it would be against the law to do otherwise.
    I will also reiterate that it is NOT ‘up to filipinos what they do’ irrespective of the legal requirements it is beholden upon everyone who lives here to help improve and develop the Philippines NOT to allow them to continue to wallow in the mendicant, begging and corruption riddled mentality that they currently insist upon.
    Given the real situation on the ground AND the legal issues surrounding your ‘expert opinion’ I wonder if you may be inclined to revise your position.

    • says

      Pedro – Not sure why you do it, but you do come off an being a real ass.

      I don’t believe I have ever said that my opinion is an “expert opinion,” in fact, I go out of my way to point out that it is only a layman’s opinion.

      Goodbye, Pedro.

    • Ed says

      Pedro, I understand what you’re saying, but please realize that any sovereign nation has the right to make its own laws, right or wrong. Those of us who choose to live in an adopted country, not of our birth, must accept the laws of the country we emigrated to. Where we came from does NOT matter. Where we are now matters 100%. That we may have come from a “first-world” country to a “third-world” country is irrelevant. It was our choice to come here for our individual personal reasons. We accepted the rules when we came here. If we don’t like the rules, we always have the “right” to be deported. That the “rules” are contrary to the best interests of our adopted country are irrelevant. We can’t change them. Maybe our kids can and will.

  7. Bystander says

    Hi Bob,

    Here’s my take on your problem:
    1. Go through with the Philippine naturalization procedure.
    Yes, part of the requirement is for you to renounce your American citizenship, and you can substantially comply with it —- with legal effect at that. (You are not required to submit some sort of certificate to prove that you are not a US citizen, issued by a US consular official.) In so doing, you will successfully comply with what is legally necessary in the Philippines to naturalize.

    2. You do not automatically lose US citizenship.
    As you have already explained exhaustively in your past articles (way back in 2010) US citizenship is quite ‘difficult’ to lose as it requires some deliberation on the part of the US authorities, which I would assume, would only happen if an interested/aggrieved party will initiate. (i.e. no complainant, no case to deliberate on).

    You need not feel ‘guilty’ about the legality of your action(s) as it applies to Philippine law or US law, as it is my opinion that at the end of the day, should there be an issue pertaining to one’s citizenship, the facts would have to be proven in court.

    Unless you would cause an investigation upon yourself as to your ‘doubtful’ US citizenship after having naturalized as a Philippine citizen, I feel you should not be so hard on yourself. Give your mind a break. You are not here on God’s earth simply to contemplate the facts of citizenship and what constitutes legality from a universal perspective all throughout the year. You’re here to live life also, no? Then let’s live life, following what your heart desires.

    ==========

    Granting, that you do decide to naturalize as a Filipino, then you would have to consciously let your US passport expire. You decide whether it serves you a purpose by keeping it, or you feel Filipino enough that it does not matter whether you keep your expired US passport or not, knowing that your US citizenship, if at all challenged, is not dependent solely on the possession of a US passport.

    If asked, “What is your citizenship?” You can then reply, “I am a naturalized Philippine citizen.”
    When asked, “Are you a US citizen?” Well, you can probably reply in the affirmative as no US court has stripped you of your US citizenship.

    (Which is probably why no US consular officer will issue any certification about a US-passport holder’s citizenship. They would advise the US-passport holder to just execute a sworn declaration about his/her citizenship, arguing that it is not within their authority to certify a person’s citizenship.)

    Allegiance? Well, that’s an entirely different thing altogether. =)

    • Ed says

      I suppose in the situation you suggest, that if one pays full taxes to both nations then all would be good?
      Serious question.

  8. Filipina wife says

    I believe, Philippines should allow Dual citizenship for those married to Filipina women who hold Philippine citizenship, and have been in a stable marriage for over 10 years. This helps in strengthening the family also. Since the kids can have dual citizenship, if they are born in the Philippines they inherit Philippine nationality and can apply for their father’s nationality by descent as per laws of many countries that permit dual citizenship. Philippines is a country founded on deep family values. Family is the center of many things in this nation and its culture. Philippine law is very humanitarian based when it comes to safeguarding the interests and dignity and integrity of a family.

    There are some who come with a western mindset of “divorce and remarry any time”, but thats not how things are seen in Philippine perspective. Some think when the wife dies, the 13a expires. Which is not true. The government would never kick out a man who gave his entire life to support his Filipina wife and children, and has built deep family roots in the country through the marriage with the Filipina

    Such a foreigner has nothing to fear. No one has campaigned for this issue of dual citizenship to those married to Filipina women and been in stable marriages for many years as of now, in a more public way. Once it becomes more public and visible, the state can pass a special act for such couples.

    Let us make it more public the need for a family to share a nation together.

    • Ed says

      Thank you “Filipina wife”, for suggesting: “Philippines is a country founded on deep family values.”
      Very sadly, Philippine immigration law is totally contrary to the value you suggest.
      The problem, as you seem to understand, is that Philippine law works contrary to the ability of a ‘foreigner’ husband’ to earn foreign income to support his Filipino family. Renounce foreign citizenship: renounce all ability to earn foreign income or receive any pension for the many decades paid-in over a lifetime.
      How is that good for *OUR* country? Philippines, for *OUR* families, our children, in the Philippines?
      Immigration law is clear: Bawal Pinoy ka, o bawal kain sa pamilya mo! Pick one, only one.
      That’s the effective law of the Philippines right now, today. Ano?

  9. GC says

    Hi,
    I was reading the comments posted. One fault I found is a statement “that all nations require a person to renounce their citizenship” if trying to gain citizenship in another country. This is not quite true as I am an Australian Citizen and have a Greek heritage, hence I hold a dual citizenship in Australia and Greece and hold two passports.

  10. David-Paul Newton-Scott says

    In the 16 years I have been married to my Philippino wife I have adopted her two children, put them through private school (with my wife), raised money for Gawad Kalinga worked for a UK Philippino cultural organisation and taught myself to speak Tagalog.
    I have the responsibility of looking after our two girls at the moment and getting them through university so I am rather like an OFW. When I retire I am planning to work for SIGA (Serving in Gods Army) a Gawad Kalinga project teaching smokey mountain kids. Honestly I love the Philippines with all of my heart, I would die for that country and it’s people if it came to it, they are tunay na ginto.
    I would love to be a Philippino but to give up my UK citizenship is irresponsible and I would then have to make special arrangements to come back here to see my two sons it’s nuts. It’s no big deal for my wife to get UK citizenship so why is it not possible for me.
    Mabuhay Bayang Magiliw tahanan ko.
    David-Paul Newton-Scott

    • says

      Hello David-Paul – Of course it is possible for you to become a Philippine Citizen, but as you said, you must relinquish your British citizenship to do so. The reason that your wife can be a dual citizen is that the laws are different based on your original citizenship.

      Good luck to you.

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