Senator Katy Gallagher is the latest in a string of federal politicians to be under fire over dual citizenship claims, including deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
The fiasco has posed a seemingly simple question: why don’t people know their heritage and nationality?
The issue doesn’t just affect pollies. In our increasingly multicultural country, one in two Australians are now either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born in another country.
That means thousands may be holding dual citizenship and unaware of it – and determining if you are a dual citizen can be a highly complex process.
The New Daily has probed the labyrinthine depths of embassies far and wide to prepare a checklist to help provide some clarity amid the dual citizenship cloud hanging over the Australian parliament.
Over a week of investigations, we confirmed the inherently confusing nature of dual citizenship law, with added complications arising with understaffing at some embassies and frustrating language barriers.
Embassies reported an increased number of phone calls from the general public in recent months relating to concerns over citizenship status.
If the citizenship drama over section 44 of the Constitution has caused you to question your own status, The New Daily has compiled a checklist for the top 10 countries of birth for Australians born overseas:
The United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Italy, South Africa, Malaysia and Germany.
UK dual citizenship is one of the more complex, largely due to the vast number of historically British former colonies and changes to legislation.
A British High Commission spokeswoman said several factors influence whether or not someone may possess UK dual citizenship, including “date and place of birth, and citizenship of parents”.
Before getting caught up in the nitty-gritty, here is a checklist that might help narrow it down:
If the above checklist resulted in the response “You might be a British citizen”, dual citizenship is likely “in most cases”.
Dual citizenship is not passed on through your father if any of the following apply:
- You were born before July 1, 2006.
- Parents were not married when you were born and haven’t since married.
- The country your father considered his permanent home when you were born distinguished between children of married and unmarried parents by law.
If the results have been so far positive, click here for more information.
There are two ways an Australian could be a dual New Zealand citizen: birth or descent.
A child is a dual citizen by birth if born in New Zealand and if at least one parent is an NZ citizen or entitled to live as a permanent resident in NZ.
Generally a child born in Australia, or elsewhere overseas, to at least one parent with NZ citizenship may be a NZ citizen by descent in some situations. But factors such as the marital status of their parents at the time of the birth will have a bearing on the child’s citizenship status.
This usually requires the parent be a citizen by birth or has been granted citizenship, not by descent.
It was only after legislation changed on January 1, 1978, that citizenship could be passed on from a mother.
The People’s Republic of China does not recognise dual citizenship with any other country.
The Constitution of India does not allow Indian citizens to hold the citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously.
Someone who is born to at least one Filipino parent may be recognised as a dual citizen if the parent was a Filipino citizen at the time of birth.
Those born before January 17, 1973, to Filipino mothers who elect Filipino citizenship are also classified as citizens.
However, those who were naturalised Filipinos and had acquired the citizenship of another country are not eligible for dual citizenship.
People may be Vietnamese citizens if any of the following apply:
- Parents are Vietnamese citizens, regardless of the child’s birth place and what other citizenship they may possess.
- The child is legally adopted by parents who are both Vietnamese citizens.
- The child is naturalised to Vietnamese citizen and he/she is allowed to retain foreign citizenship, as decided by the President of the State of Vietnam in some special cases. However, in almost all cases foreigners are required to renounce their original citizenship.
- One parent is a Vietnamese citizen and the other is a foreign citizen provided that at the time of applying for a Vietnamese certificate of birth, the parents agree to choose Vietnamese citizenship.
Generally, place of birth is irrelevant in determining Italian dual citizenship, provided that one or both parents were Italians.
The transmission of citizenship by Jus sanguinis, a Latin term meaning “right of blood”, is a principle of Italian nationality law by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth but by having at least one parent who is a citizen of the state.
There is no requirement for those aged under 18 to apply for South African dual citizenship, as long as they acquire the foreign citizenship before their 18th birthday.
A person born in South Africa may claim South African citizenship “by birth” if at least one parent was a South African citizen or had been lawfully admitted to the Republic for permanent residence.
Any person born in Australia, or elsewhere overseas, to at least one parent who was a South African citizen at the time of their birth may acquire South African citizen “by descent”.
Citizenship may also be acquired “by naturalisation” if a person has been admitted to South Africa for permanent residence and has been resident in the country for the requisite period from the date of obtaining Permanent Residence in the Republic of South Africa.
When a child is born in Malaysia to two Australian parents, it does not mean the child is automatically a Malaysian citizen.
If one or both parents are Malaysian, but permanent Australian residents, and the child is born in Australia then the child is an Australian by birth. But the child is not a Malaysian citizen unless the parents register them for dual citizenship within one year after birth. Even so, this only grants dual citizenship until age 21.
In this scenario, if the child moved to Australia before age 12 but a parent had previously applied for the Malaysian Identity Card (MyKad) in Malaysia, then the child is a Malaysian even though they’ve grown up in Australia.
If a child with at least one Malaysian parent is born and grows up in Australia but has their birth registered with the Malaysian High Commission, then they are able to travel to Malaysia to obtain a MyKad ID card and be considered a dual citizen until age 21.
Further questions can be directed to the Malaysian Consulate-General’s office in Perth.
Germany adheres to a principle known as “the avoidance of multiple nationalities” and generally, Germans must give up their nationality if they wish to obtain a foreign one.
Exceptions apply to European citizens, and children or grandchildren of immigrants.
Germany does recognise dual citizenship, however many restrictions apply.
What is Section 44?
Section 44 of the Constitution, written in 1901, outlines five grounds whereby a member of Parliament can be disqualified.
One of those states that a person is ineligible for Federal Parliament if they hold a foreign citizenship.
Any overseas-born member is required to take “reasonable steps” to renounce their foreign citizenship.