By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
(Kim Kardashian at Keep the Promise premiere)
This article is part of our Celebrity Citizenship Breakdown series.
The Kardashians have muscled their way to the top of the social media mountain.
From KUWTK to fashion, to beauty products and instagram domination, the Kardashians seem to be everywhere. Along the way, all this fame and business acumen may have catapulted Kim Kardashian to billionaire status (without Kanye).
Her diligently instagrammed travels seem to take her all over the world, from exotic resorts in Mexico, to ancestral trips in Armenia, to fashion shows in Paris, and beyond.
(High Paris fashion? Who knows)
A wealthy, jet-setting international celebrity could find a lot of value in having an extensive passport portfolio. But, does Kim Kardashian rely on a single lonesome passport to jet set internationally, or is she a dual citizen?
Kim Kardashian’s “Birthright” Citizenship(s)
Let’s start with the basics.
Even if we knew little about Kim Kardashian’s life, it would be safe to assume Kim Kardashian was born an American citizen. That’s because, according to U.S. birthright citizenship law (fancily referred to “jus solis” i.e. “right of soil”), people born in the United States are generally automatically granted U.S. citizenship. This is also how cheeky Brit, Andy T., also became a U.S. citizen.
Side note: one little known rule is that children born in the United States to foreign diplomats are generally not granted U.S. citizenship. This is the diplomatic exception to birthright citizenship.
It’s well documented that Kim was born in the golden state - Los Angeles, California to Robert Kardashian and Kris Jenner (“Kris Kardashian”, at the time). Neither of Kim’s parents were foreign diplomats so it’s safe to assume Kim was born an American citizen.
(Beautiful Los Angeles, California where a momager can earn 10% in peace)
Does Kim K. Qualify for Dual Citizenship?
Backing up for a moment, there are several ways a person can become a dual citizen.
When someone is born a dual citizen it’s usually because the person has been granted both citizenships by descent (meaning citizenship passed by a parent) or one citizenship by descent and one citizenship by birth in a particular country - like the U.S. birthright citizenship mentioned above.
There’s nothing to suggest that Kris “10%” Jenner was a dual citizen when Kim was born. But, Robert Kardashian’s citizenship is a more interesting question.
While it’s not clear if Robert Kardashian was a citizen of any other country when Kim was born, it’s well known that Robert was an American of Armenian descent. Both of Robert Kardashian’s parents were Armenian-Americans, and the name “Kardashian” is an Armenian name.
(Yerevan, Armenia - one of Kim Kardashian's ancestral countries)
Here’s the bottom line: if Robert was an Armenian citizen when Kim was born, Kim may have also been born a dual citizen even if she didn’t know it.
Yes, being an “accidental” dual citizen is possible and happens more often than people think; just ask Senator Ted Cruz, or any “accidental American.” In cases like this, although a person may have been technically born a citizen, they still have to apply to be legally recognized as a citizen.
Could Kim apply for “acquisition” of Armenian citizenship at the age of 42?
Yes, I believe so. Even if Kim was never recognized as an Armenian citizen previously, there’s a good chance that she may still qualify for acquisition of Armenian citizenship. That’s because Armenia has a fairly welcoming policy of offering citizenship to descendants of ethnic Armenians.
Fun fact: Kim's recent divorce from the mercurial Kanye West would not impact an Armenian citizenship application.
As always with citizenship by descent, the challenge usually lies in proving the case with official documents. Here, Kim would have to show her grandparents were ethnic Armenians, and also show the chain of lineage from her grandparents to Robert Kardashian to Kim (birth certificates usually do the job).
Becoming recognized as an Armenian citizen would grant Kim the indefinite right of residency, work, and study in Armenia, the right to vote, and a passport with visa-free travel to 65 countries.
(Adding even a "weaker" passport to your portfolio increases freedom of movement)
My advice as a mobility lawyer? If she hasn’t done so already, Kim K. should apply for acquisition of Armenian citizenship, to add increased freedom of movement and connection with her heritage.
Other Citizenships Kim K. Could Pursue
If Kim Kardashian were my client, I’d suggest she put a foot in Europe.
Peeling off just a sliver of her reportedly billion dollar fortune, she could attain residence by investment in Portugal, which would make her eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years. The Portuguese golden visa would cost Kim K an outlay of € 280,000 to € 500,000 euro, depending on the type of investment chosen.
Portuguese citizenship is also a European Union citizenship which would entitle Kim K. (or any other Portuguese citizen) to live, work or visit any of the 27 EU countries, including favorites such as France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and Croatia.
As an EU citizen, Kim would be able to freely do gigs, fashion shows, and other work in the entire European Union, with much less immigration hassle and need for visas.
(Alfama, Lisbon Portugal)
After applying for acquisition of Armenian citizenship by descent and the Portuguese golden visa, Kim K could ostensibly become a dual American-Armenian citizen within a year. Within six years, she could become a triple American-Armenian-Portuguese citizen.
That’s what I call a robust passport portfolio.
There are other important issues that mega entrepreneurs such as Kim K. should consider when getting multiple citizenships, such as tax planning, and the four red flags of second citizenship. Also, there are the most common questions people have when they become a dual citizen.
We’ll have to talk about that in another article…