With U.S. in slump, dual citizenship in EU countries attracts Americans
For millions of Europeans who braved the Atlantic Ocean for a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and dreams of a lavish life, there was little thought of ever emigrating back.
Yet for a new generation of Americans of European descent, the Old Country is becoming a new country full of promise and opportunity.
The creation of the European Union and its thriving economy is very appealing for Americans in a global economy.
"With an EU passport, I can live and work in 27 countries," said Suzanne Mulvehill of Lake Worth. "With a U.S. passport, I can live and work in one."
Americans can claim citizenship in any of the 27 European countries that are in the EU based on the nationality of their parents, or in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents. Citizenship in one of those countries allows you to live and work in any EU nation.
Since the United States doesn't keep statistics on dual citizens, it's impossible to know exactly how many people have applied for citizenship in Europe. But it's estimated that more than 40 million Americans are eligible for dual citizenship, and a growing number of Americans want to try their luck elsewhere.
"I have to say that over the past few years, calls I never would have received before have been made to the office," said Sam Levine, an immigration attorney in Palm Beach Gardens. "It's not like a tidal wave, but it's certainly more substantial, and it's remarkable."
He's receiving calls from people like Mulvehill, executive director of the Emotional Institute, a Lake Worth-based company that trains entrepreneurs.
Mulvehill's mother was born in Romania, which became a member of the European Union last year.
She's obtaining Romanian citizenship, which she estimates will have taken about three years, a ton of paperwork, $750 in fees and a trip to the Romanian consulate in Washington.
But once she receives the passport, probably early next year, she'll be able settle anywhere in the EU.
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I actually like having dual citizenship. It's nice even if you're just traveling to Europe (usually the citizenship lines are smaller at passport controls). But a lot of countries require special IDs along with a driver's license and applying for those is the real challenge. Also made even more difficult by dual citizenship.