I’ve lived in the UK about 24 years and apart from the time I abandoned logic and decided to travel without my old passport that says ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ as well as my current one I’ve never really strongly considered getting a dual citizenship.
(Have you ever been detained at Heathrow? It’s fun! No, not really but it does give you a self-deprecating story to tell to fellow expats.)The stamp in my passport (when I remember to bring the old passport), should be enough to allow me to sail in and out of port without much more than an extra question or two for the rest of my life, but I keep hearing stories and reading accounts of people who have lived in the UK for years and years being sent home on technicalities, even if their whole life is in the UK. It’s true that the technicalities are for the most part events that don’t apply to me, and I also accept that most of the stories are probably altered considerably by the time they get to my ears but I keep thinking, perhaps, you know, I should get that maroon passport, just in case.
But it means sitting a Life in the UK test (and passing) and paying just over £1000 for study guides, test fee and admin to process the application for citizenship so this is no small decision.
And of course it’s not just the money.
It’s also about becoming British.
I love Britain and I respect and honour many things about Britain and I love my British family and friends. But could I actually become British?
Although I would become British through this process, I wouldn’t be giving up my American passport. There’s been a spate of people abandoning their American passports in favour of the passport of their host country because of new tax laws—not to avoid paying tax but to avoid the expensive and complicated filing that will become even more complicated from the 1st of July 2014.
I must admit I hate the filing process. It’s a hassle laced with the fear of getting it wrong and getting in some sort of trouble. However, even with the hassle I would never give up my US citizenship, but I understand why some people do. So becoming British is not about abandoning my American friends and family, I think it’s more about finally accepting that yes, I am staying here. Which means I would no longer be an expat, but an immigrant, right?
I’m all for versatility, just-in-case scenarios and back up plans so having the second passport would mean reassurance that even if something happened to my British husband I could be in the UK with my daughter for as long as I lived, I could live outside the UK for as long as liked and still return to the British Isles any time and for as long as I liked, and I could travel more easily to some countries on the maroon passport than the blue one.
In some ways it seems an easy answer. If you can afford it, get the second passport. I can now afford it, so I may just start Googling the process a bit more thoroughly.
Have any of you become a dual citizen, or given up your citizenship of birth?
Michelle Garrett is an American expat making a life in Britain for over 20 years. Yes, she's still homesick for the States and yes, she'd be homesick for Britain if she moved back there!
Michelle is a freelance writer and blogs at The American Resident.