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Easiest EU countries to get citizenship for US citizens

U.S. citizens who would like to obtain citizenship in a European country in the EU have many pathways to choose from. Learn more about your options here.

If you would like help with your second citizenship or have any questions regarding dual nationality, contact one of our immigration experts today at +1 844 290 6312. We’re here to help you online, over the phone, or in person.

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    What is EU citizenship?

    If you decide to acquire citizenship in a country that is part of the European Union (EU), you will then have obtained EU citizenship. Through EU citizenship, you will have the freedom to travel, settle, and work with little to no restriction in 28 EU member countries which are as follows:

    Austria Belgium Bulgaria
    Croatia Republic of Cyprus Czech Republic
    Denmark Estonia Finland
    France Germany Greece
    Hungary Ireland Italy
    Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg
    Malta Netherlands Poland
    Portugal Romania Slovakia
    Slovenia Spain Sweden

    Citizens from these countries can apply for an EU passport which will automatically grant them the rights of an EU citizen.

    map of Europe
    EU passport

    What are the benefits of gaining citizenship in the EU?

    There are many advantages to becoming an EU citizen. Some European union citizenship benefits include the following:

    • Access to employment opportunities in 28 countries
    • Opportunities to become a permanent resident in an EU country of your choice
    • Visa-free travel throughout the European Economic Area
    • Access to healthcare systems in each EU country
    • The ability to benefit from the rights and protections afforded to EU citizens
    • The opportunity to obtain a European passport

    Do you need help applying for EU citizenship? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      What European countries allow dual citizenship with the United States?

      Acquiring dual citizenship depends on a number of factors such as if your home country will allow you to acquire new citizenship in a second country without having to forfeit your original nationality. Fortunately, the United States allows its citizens to hold dual nationality without comprising their status as a citizen of the United States.

      EU countries that allow dual citizenship are as follows:

      Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark
      France Finland Germany
      Greece Hungary Ireland
      Italy Latvia Lithuania
      Malta Portugal Poland
      Spain Sweden

      As always, it is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to make sure that your second citizenship will not conflict with your American citizenship.

      international flags
      EU citizen

      How can I get second citizenship in Europe?

      There are a number of ways U.S. citizens can gain second citizenship in Europe. The type that is right for you will depend on each individual’s personal circumstances and the country where they would like to acquire citizenship. Some of the ways foreign nationals can gain European citizenship are outlined below.

      Citizenship by Descent

      There are many countries that offer Citizenship by Descent. Depending on your ancestry and what generation you are from the family member who was a European citizen, you may be able to apply for citizenship in countries like Poland, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, and Germany.

      Citizenship by Naturalization

      If you have been living in a European country under a valid and eligible visa for a certain period of time, you may be able to apply for naturalization in the country where you have been habituating.

      Before you apply for naturalization, you will first need to establish permanent residency. Then after a certain period of time specific to that country, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship provided that you can meet the requirements (ex. language ability, clean criminal record, etc).

      Citizenship through Marriage

      Spouses and civil partners of EU citizens are usually offered quick pathways to permanent residency in the native country of their spouse/civil partner. Spouses and civil partners can therefore apply for European citizenship if they are able to meet the eligibility requirements.

      Citizenship through Investment Programs

      Many European countries offer investment programs where they offer a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship in exchange for investments made to their local economy.

      What countries allow EU citizenship by investment?

      Not every country in the European Union allows foreign nationals to gain EU citizenship by investment. Only six EU countries have Golden Visa programs that grant permanent residency in exchange for substantial investment into the local economy. These countries include:

      • Portugal
      • Spain
      • Greece
      • Malta
      • Ireland
      • Italy
      person stacking coins
      Giant's Causeway in Ireland

      Irish Citizenship

      Would you like to emigrate to the Emerald Isle of Ireland? There are a number of ways to obtain citizenship in Ireland. The best pathway will depend on a variety of factors and each applicant’s personal circumstances.

      Irish Citizenship by Descent

      Foreign nationals who have grandparents or great-grandparents who were born in Ireland may be eligible to apply for Irish Citizenship by Descent if you and your parent were registered on the Foreign Births Registry between 1956-1986.

      Irish Citizenship by Marriage

      Spouses and civil partners of Irish citizens who have been living in Ireland for at least 3 years can apply for Irish naturalization if they are able to meet the necessary requirements.

      Irish Citizenship by investment

      Foreign investors who would like to settle in Ireland can apply for the Immigrant Investor Programme, also known as the Irish Golden Visa. In exchange for a substantial investment, non-EU/EEA nationals will be granted Stamp 4 permanent residency.

      To apply for this Golden visa program, foreign nationals must invest in one of the following investment options with their own funds:

      • The Enterprise Investment
      • The Investment Fund
      • The Real Estate Investment Fund
      • Endowments

      After 5 years of reckonable residence in Ireland, foreign investors will be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalization.

      Italian Citizenship

      Italy is another EU country that allows foreign nationals the opportunity to gain second citizenship in their country in a variety of ways.

      Italian Citizenship by Descent

      Individuals who are Italian and proud can apply for Italian Citizenship by Descent if they are a descendant of an Italian national. As part of the requirement for citizenship, the foreign national must have an unbroken lineage, meaning that their ancestor must have retained their Italian nationality when their child was born.

      The criteria for the unbroken lineage requirement can be tricky, so if you are interested in applying for Italian Citizenship by Descent, it is recommended that you consult with an immigration attorney who is experienced in Italian law.

      Citizenship by Marriage or Civil Union

      Spouses and civil partners of Italian citizens are eligible to apply for Italian citizenship after 2 years of marriage/civil union. As part of this requirement, the couple must have been living in Italy during those 2 years. If the couple has children under 18 (either adopted or biological), the foreign spouse/partner will be able to apply for citizenship in 1 year.

      If the couple lives outside of Italy, the foreign spouse can still apply for Italian citizenship by marriage after 3 years of the marriage/civil union. Again, if the couple has children under 18 years old together, then the foreign spouse/partner can apply after 18 months.

      Italian Citizenship by Golden Visa

      In an effort to bring foreign capital into the country, Italy has created the Dolce Visa. This Golden Visa, previously known as the Italian Investor Visa, grants permanent residency to foreign investors in exchange for one of the following:

      • A capital investment of €2,000,000 in government bonds
      • Investing €500,000 in an Italian limited company
      • A philanthropic donation of €1,000,000
      • An investment of €200,000 in an innovative start-up company in Italy

      In exchange for an investment made into Italy, foreign nationals will be granted a 2-year residency permit which they can extend provided that they are able to document and provide the necessary information regarding their investment to the Italian government’s online website.

      After 5 years of residency in Italy, foreign nationals will then be able to apply for permanent residency. After 10 years of tax residency in Italy, foreign investors will then be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship.

      Florence skyline
      street in Krakow city center

      Polish Citizenship

      If you would like to gain second citizenship in this Eastern European country, there are 2 pathways by which you can become a Polish citizen.

      Citizenship by Descent

      Just like Italy, Poland offers citizenship by descent to individuals who have unbroken Polish lineage. To be eligible for Polish citizenship by descent, the foreign national must have an ancestor born in Poland after 1900 who lived in Poland as a Polish citizen. Furthermore, the lineage must be unbroken meaning that parents and grandparents kept their Polish citizenship.

      Citizenship by Marriage

      Foreign spouses of Polish citizens can apply for Polish citizenship by marriage if they have continuously resided in Poland for at least 2 years and if the foreign spouse has had a residence permit while married for at least 3 years.

      Furthermore, foreign spouses who would like to apply for Polish citizenship will need to submit a valid marriage certificate that is registered in the Polish Civil Registry office.

      Citizenship in Hungary

      Hungary no longer offers investment programs for foreign investors who are interested in settling in this European country. However, if you are still interested in becoming a Hungarian citizen, you may eligible for citizenship through descent or marriage.

      Hungarian Citizenship by Descent

      Descendants of Hungarian citizens who were born before 1920 or between 1941-1945 can apply for Hungarian citizenship by descent if they are able to prove an unbroken and qualifying lineage and can speak the Hungarian language.

      Citizenship by marriage in Hungary

      Spouses of Hungarian citizens who have been married for at least 10 years may be eligible to apply for citizenship in Hungary. If you are married to a Hungarian citizen for at least 5 years and have a child with them, you will also be able to apply for citizenship.

      To apply for citizenship in Hungary, candidates will need to interview with an administrator to discuss in the Hungarian language why they would like to become a citizen.

      Hungarian castle
      Maltese landscape

      Malta Citizenship

      Malta is one of the easiest countries in the EU to gain citizenship in. Foreign nationals who would like to gain a Maltese passport can apply for Maltese citizenship in a number of ways.

      Maltese citizenship by descent

      Direct descendants of Maltese nationals may be eligible to apply for Maltese citizenship without requiring residency. To be eligible for citizenship by descent, the lineage must be unbroken with eligible ascendants alive.

      Citizenship by marriage

      Spouses of Maltese citizens can apply for citizenship if they have been married and living with their partner for at least 5 years.

      Maltese citizenship by investment

      Malta is considered to have the easiest and quickest citizenship by investment program in the EU. Through the Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program, wealthy investors can earn citizenship by:

      • Making a minimum contribution of €600,000 to the National Development Fund (must also prove at least 36 months of residency in Malta)
      • Making a contribution of €750,000 to the National Development Fund (must also prove at least 12 months of residency in Malta)

      In addition, investors will need to:

      • Invest an additional €700,000 into residential real estate or enter into a rental agreement of at least €16,000 per year for at least 5 years
      • Make a donation of €10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare, or artistic organization or society (non-governmental)

      Furthermore, investors will need to contribute €50,000 to the National Development Fund per additional dependant in their application for the investment program.

      Portuguese Citizenship

      If you are interested in relocating to the beautiful country of Portugal, then there are a variety of ways in which you can obtain a second citizenship. Portugal is considered by many as one of the easiest EU countries to immigrate to however all applicants applying for citizenship will need to pass the Portuguese language requirement.

      Citizenship for the descendants of those persecuted

      Portugal offers citizenship by descent for those who are descended from the Sephardic Jewish community that was persecuted and expelled from the Iberian Peninsula around 1492. For more information regarding the eligibility criteria for this type of citizenship, contact an immigration attorney who specializes in Portuguese immigration law.

      Citizenship by Descent

      Descendants of Portuguese parents and grandparents may be eligible for Portuguese Citizenship by Descent if they are able to prove their Portuguese lineage.

      Citizenship by marriage or civil partnership

      Spouses and civil partners of Portuguese citizenship can apply for citizenship in Portugal if they have been married or in a civil partnership for at least 3 years. Spouses and civil partners do not need to live in Portugal in order to apply for Portuguese citizenship but the couple will need to prove that they have lived together in the time leading up to their citizenship application.

      Portuguese castle

       

      Citizenship by investment

      Portugal offers two ways of obtaining citizenship by investment: the D7 Visa (Passive Income Visa) and the Golden Visa Program. Both visas offer a pathway for foreign nationals to gain Portuguese citizenship.

      Portugal’s Golden Visa offers non-EU/EEA nationals residency in return for substantial investments made in Portugal. After 5 years of Portuguese residency, investors will then be able to apply for citizenship in Portugal. Through the Golden Visa program, investors are only required to spend at least 7 days per year in Portugal and must invest in one of the following:

      • An eligible real estate investment
      • A capital transfer of at least €1.5 million into a Portuguese bank account
      • An investment of at least €350,000 into a qualifying investment fund in Portugal
      • A company investment of at least €500,000
      • A donation of at least €250,000 for the preservation of the national heritage in Portugal
      • A donation of at least €500,000 for scientific or technological research in Portugal

      The D7 (Passive Income) Visa requires less capital but demands the visa holder to spend more time in Portugal. Under the D7 visa program, all visa holders must spend at least 183 consecutive days per year in Portugal. After 6 years of residency in Portugal, D7 visa holders will be eligible to apply for citizenship in Portugal.

      To be eligible for the D7 visa, non-EU/EEA nationals will need to meet the passive income requirements which will depend on the area where the visa holder intends to reside and the cost of living for the current year. Passive income streams can include pensions, money from investments, royalties, rental properties from abroad, and salary from remote employment.

      Cathedral in Spain

      Spanish Citizenship

      Spain is one the most popular EU countries to relocate to amongst foreign nationals from all over the world. If you would like to settle in this sun-soaked European country, you may be eligible for Spanish citizenship.

      Spanish citizenship by descent

      There are a number of ways that you can acquire Spanish citizenship by descent including having parents who are Spanish nationals (or were born in Spain) or even Spanish grandparents. Since the eligibility requirements for acquiring citizenship in Spain through descent can be tricky, consult with a Spanish immigration lawyer before starting your application.

      Spanish citizenship by marriage

      If you are married to a Spanish national and lawfully living in a Spanish territory for at least 1 year, you may be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship provided you meet the eligibility criteria.

      Spanish citizenship by investment

      Spain offers a Golden Visa program to foreign investors who are willing to make an investment of at least €500,000 into the Spanish real estate market. In exchange, foreign investors and their families will receive residency permits. After 5 years, the investor and their family will have gained permanent residence status. After 10 years of living in Spain (5 years spent under permanent residency), foreign investors and their families will be able to apply for citizenship in Spain.

      How can IAS help me apply for EU citizenship?

      Applying for second citizenship in the European Union can be tricky. That’s why our immigration attorneys at Immigration Advice Services keep up to date with all the latest development and changes in international immigration law.

      If you are considering applying for dual citizenship with an EU country and would like expert assistance to make your application as streamlined and stress-free as possible, contact one of our immigration experts today to discuss the best option for you.

      Call us at +1 844 290 6312 or leave us a message in the chat.

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