How Many Citizenships Does Gisele Bündchen Have?
Updated: Apr 19
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
This article is part of our Celebrity Citizenship Breakdown series.
Supermodel Gisele Bündchen has had quite a year.
Let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at Gisele’s citizenship situation to find out if she’s a dual citizen or possibly even a triple citizen.
Gisele’s Birthright Citizenship
Gisele Bündchen was born a Brazilian citizen based on her birth in Brazil.
“The Midas Queen” was born in Horizontina, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil on July 20th, 1980. Like most countries in South America, Brazil has a jus soli (i.e., “right of soil”) citizenship law. This means that babies born on Brazilian soil automatically acquire Brazilian citizens, regardless of the citizenship of the baby’s parents.
A Brazilian passport allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to about 170 countries, including Europe’s Schengen area. For many other South American countries, Brazilians don’t even need a passport for travel, but rather can gain entry with just a national ID card.
The benefits of Brazilian citizenship even encourage some adventurous American parents to even take “birth tourism” trips to Brazil to give their newborns a leg up on life via a claim to Brazilian citizenship. While we’ve never assisted anyone with this at Malakouti Law, I’ve had a few inquiries about it from our clients.
Fun fact: as a citizen of a MERCOSUR country, Gisele can live, work, study or open a business in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay or any of the other MERCOSUR countries.
Could her divorce from Tom Brady free her up to spend more time in South America?
(Beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina)
So, Gisele was born a Brazilian citizen…but what about U.S. citizenship?
Citizenship by Naturalization
Gisele may also be an American citizen because U.S. immigration law provides visa eligibility for skilled foreign workers - including superstar models!
Spoiler alert: I think Gisele probably has become a U.S. citizen, and I explain why below.
By 2000, Gisele was appearing on Vogue magazine covers and strutting her stuff on fashion show runways.
More importantly, Gisele signed a $25 million dollar contract to become the face of Victoria’s Secret in 2000. Besides making her boatloads of money and shooting to worldwide stardom, these accomplishments have a big immigration impact.
(Victoria's Secret models hard at work)
That’s because these are professional achievements that would make Gisele eligible for both an O-1 visa, and probably an EB-1 visa for “aliens of extraordinary ability.”
By 2000, there’s a good chance that Gisele’s international acclaim would have qualified her for even an EB-1. Some might remember that a young Slovenian model named Melania Knauss who would later become first lady, also got an EB-1 visa, also known as an “Einstein” visa.
What’s the difference between an O-1 and an EB-1?
Among other distinctions, a big one is that the EB-1 visa is an immigrant visa which means it comes with a green card…that can lead to U.S. citizenship. On the other hand, the O-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, which means it doesn’t lead to eligibility for citizenship.
So, it’s likely Gisele would have obtained one of those two visas to be able to work in the United States. By 2000, I believe Gisele probably could have qualified for either visa based on her extensive body of work (pun intended!) as a world renown fashion model.
She also could have started with an O-1 and then transitioned to an EB-1 with a green card later on, which is possible. Either way, my guess is that Gisele would have ended up with an EB-1 visa and status, that would have given her a right to work in the U.S. and the possibility to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
So, would Gisele have opted for the EB-1 which comes with a green card over the O-1 which doesn’t?
It’s hard to say for sure, but I think so. Gisele spent extensive time touring the U.S. as a Victoria’s secret model from 2000 to 2007. I think that for a young Gisele Bündchen in 2000 with a lucrative modeling career ahead of her, a green card would have looked attractive, so my hunch is she probably would have applied for a green card around 2000 or 2001.
What about U.S. citizenship?
Normally, a green card holder has to be resident in the United States for five years before being eligible to apply for U.S. naturalization and becoming a citizen.
But green card holders married to U.S. citizens only have to wait three years (instead of five) in order to apply for U.S. citizenship. This is where good old Tom Brady enters the picture.
(three citizenships and seven super bowl rings on the red carpet)
After meeting on a blind date in 2006, Gisele and Tom famously got married on February 26th, 2009, in sunny Santa Monica. If Gisele was still a green card holder by the date of her nuptials, she definitely could have applied for citizenship within three years.
In sum, my guess is that a) Gisele is a U.S. citizen and b) she would become a U.S. citizen by sometime in 2013 at the latest, and likely even earlier than that!
Costa Rican Citizenship?
Given that Gisele spends time in Costa Rica, one might wonder if Gisele has or qualifies for Costa Rican citizenship. Gisele and Tom even bought a beautiful house near the beach town of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica on the Atlantic side of the small central American country.
(Santa Teresa beach, Costa Rica)
It’s possible that Gisele has applied for permanent residence in Costa Rica. Even in that case, given how much time it takes on the ground in Costa Rica, it’s unlikely Gisele will become a Costa Rican citizen. Unfortunately, Costa Rican residents must wait for seven years before being eligible for naturalization.
So, Costa Rican residency is a possibility for Gisele, but citizenship is unlikely.
What I Would Recommend
Are two citizenships enough?
Obviously, it depends on your life circumstances, goals, and your bankroll for additional citizenships. For someone like Gisele with an estimated $300M- $400M net worth, adding a third citizenship would be a relatively low-cost tool for freedom of movement.
Gisele could add another citizenship fairly easily by investment. There are about ten countries in the world that offer formal citizenship by investment programs. In Gisele’s case, I would suggest Maltese citizenship by investment, which can be had at present for a € 750,000 euros donation, 12 months residence, plus either a property purchase or lease for at least five years, in addition to a few other requirements.
(Maltese citizenship, anyone?)
Malta would be a good fit for Gisele’s third citizenship because it would give Gisele easy residence and work access to Europe. Gisele could jet set around fashion events from Paris to Milan to Ibiza, all the while working and staying as long as she’d like as an EU citizen. Gisele could also include her two children, Benjamin and Vivian in her Maltese citizenship application.
This would afford Benjamin and Vivian to easily live, work, study, or study in the entire European union once they become adults. This very instinct to give an intergenerational gift of global mobility also has many Americans pursuing second citizenship.
With Brazilian and (likely) American citizenship, Gisele is sitting pretty. By adding Maltese citizenship, she could be sitting even prettier…
Want to find out how you can also build a passport portfolio? Click here to book a consultation with Malakouti Law.