By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
This article is part of our series on mobility concept & strategy explainers.
There are at least three parties to every person's lawful bordered entry to a country:
1. The country the person is entering;
2. The person entering;
3. The country of citizenship of the person entering or the country that issued the travel document (or ID substituting for a travel document).
This phenomenon is a relic of the nation-state monopoly on issuance of passports combined with their mutual agreement to only accept passports (with limited exceptions) as travel documents for lawful bordered entries.
If your country of citizenship won't or can't issue your passport, you'll be pinned to one country or borderless zone. This is why confiscating someone's passport is considered such a powerful tool of control, whether by an individual or an oppressive government actor. In fact, this single point of travel failure increases a person’s vulnerability to any passport attack vector.
This dependence on the third party mentioned above results in one of the biggest, and little discussed, benefits of dual and multiple citizenship. That benefit is the elimination of any one country’s ability to arrest your movement among other countries. If you can swap two, three or more countries into that third party slot issuing your travel document, your independence from any single country increases dramatically.
Note, I'm not referring to visa-free access granted by the second or third citizenship.
Even if the country issuing the passport doesn't have any visa-free access to other countries at all this hypothetical "weakest" passport with zero visa-free access has great value.
It reduces the 3rd party (document-issuing country) interference from human freedom of movement. With enough citizenships, the interference is removed entirely, in practice.
The tradeoff is that the person using it may have to reinvent the wheel by obtaining visas to enter as a citizen of that country whereas a different citizenship (with accompanying passport) may already grant you visa-free access to your destination country.
This can be a potentially time-consuming hassle. However, having even the hypothetical weakest visa-needy passport presents the lawful possibility of travel (and escape, if necessary). Complete absence of a passport does not.
This is why single-citizens (those who have only one citizenship) wear handcuffs to which only their country holds the keys.
Some undiplomatic individuals might say single-citizens and criminals wear handcuffs
At present, the closest corollary (excepting the stateless and refugees who might be entitled to a refugee travel document), would be citizenship in a country a) with very poor visa-free access, b) that reliably issues passports to its citizens.
Would having such citizenship and accompanying "visa-needy" passport be worthwhile? For those interested in maximum freedom from state and contingency plans, I believe very much so.
This is why I often recommend people pursue adding citizenship in so-called third world countries if they qualify by ancestry, and also why I believe there would still be a market for citizenship by investment in a country with extremely poor visa-free access.
The citizenship granting even the visa-needy passport as a canvas for visas has significant value to human freedom of movement.