Is there a list of countries I can become citizens of?

I’m an American citizen and just fine with that, but I am curious. What citizens can an American give up American citizenship and become citizen of?

Which ones are “off limits”? I lived in China for two years and becoming a Chinese citizen is not possible. What other countries can Americans not “join”?

According to Wiki, you can become Chinese but it is very rare.

You can become a Thai citizen, but it’s expensive and extremely time-consuming. For instance, you have to learn to speak Thai fluently. But you don’t have to give up your American citizenship when you become a Thai citizen. I thought you did, but an American friend who gained Thai citizenship a few years ago tells me no one has ever asked him to renounce his US citizenship.

Turning Japanese, on the other hand . . .

Not sure you could become a Saudi citizen. Maybe if you flogged a woman driver in front of three witnesses, dunno.

You can become a citizen of most of the Gulf countries but it is quite rare. You’d almost certainly have to be (or become) Muslim, speak Arabic and have lived there for a very long time… 25+ years. Being personal friends with the ruler would help.

Australia and Nz you can become a citizen of relatively easily, through points system immigration or a number of other ways. Belize you can buy citizenship in.

You do realize that permanent residency usually comes first and even in countries like Japan that don’t give out citizenship you can still get permanent residency?

It’s certainly possible (though not easy) for foreigners to become citizens of Japan. Some famous examples (off the top of my head) include:
Marutei Tsurunen (he actually became a member of parliament);
CW Nicol;
Arudou Debito (formerly David Aldwinckle);
Daniel Cole(?) (Kaul?)

I think there are probably very few countries that don’t have the possibility of naturalisation, at least in theory.

There may be a distinction between what is required in theory and what happens in practice. It is not unknown for Japanese living overseas to become citizens in their country of residence. While this is illegal (Japan does not allow for dual nationality) they are unlikely to be caught as long as they are careful when presenting travel documents, etc. In practice, therefore, they can enjoy the benefits of dual nationality.


Did you mean “Do/Did you” instead “You do…”?

Is there a general rule that you can become a citizen of a country by marrying somebody who’s already a citizen? Or is that just an American policy?

A general rule? If that means some sort of international agreement that many countries have signed up for then I doubt it very much.

I think marriage to a citizen is a path to permanent residency and citizenship in many countries. I’d suspect this is the case for most countries. But the restrictions and level of bureaucratic pain no doubt varies considerably. I think you’d really want to look at each country on a case by case basis to get a sensible answer. Luckily most countries appear to have immigration websites that detail the eligibility and filing requirements.

I would also expect that the advantages of being a citizen over not-being a citizen vary tremendously from country to country and may in fact be negative (I personally would not want to be drafted into the army for a couple years…)

It’s not American policy. You still have to jump through a number of hoops in your own right:

That is true. In the United States for your average law abiding resident there is a negligible difference between living as a green card holder or a citizen. A green card holder can’t vote or serve on a jury, but you’d never notice the difference in your day to day life. Still, those things are important, and I want to be eligible for them. There are definitely benefits on the margins: its possible even in civilian work to run into government contracts with “US Citizen Only” security clearance requirements, and I can travel to far more countries without applying for a visa on my US passport than my South African passport.

There are some countries that essentially let you buy citizenship, or provide very easy paths to citizenship for wealthy investors willing to make some commitment to the country. St Kitts and Nevis is a classic example, and Malta has recently made the news by proposing a flat out sale of their citizenships for 650,000 Euros. They’ve since backpedaled on implementing the program, under pressure from the rest of the EU:

Canada iirc also has a fairly generous points system. You get points for academic degrees, work experience, speaking English and/or French, etc. To some extent it seems you could play it like a game and come up with an action plan to maximize your points in X years.

One way to approach the OP’s question is to consider what countries have looser-than-average requirements for permanent residency and/or citizenship.

One interesting case would be the Pacific-island countries subject to Free Association agreements with the US. It looks like a US Citizen can more or less live and work in one of these visa free, but I don’t know that this is likely to get you on the fast track to citizenship.

It also looks like a US Citizen can become a resident of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic more or less pro forma due to the treaty, but this wouldn’t give you rights to live anywhere else in Norway.

Some European countries have homecoming laws that allow descendants of emigrants to claim citizenship by proving descent. In some cases, descendants might already be citizens by operation of law and may only need to prove it via birth certificates, etc. in order to get a passport. In other cases, you might not be a citizen until you have both proved your ancestry and formally applied for naturalization on the basis of ancestry. The Republic of Ireland famously grants more or less immediate citizenship to anyone with a single grandparent who was born in Ireland and who applies.

If you are Jewish, you may be able to immigrate to Israel relatively painlessly under its Law of Return, but you might have to serve in the Army.

Also, I have been told repeatedly by immigrants to the US that Green Card holders can enter Canada as a tourist visa-free like US Citizens can. Foreigners with H1B and other non-permanent-resident visas may still need a Canadian visa that Americans wouldn’t need. While the US/Canada border has more restrictions than Eurozone borders, it’s still relatively porous and it’s possible for Americans to get up on Friday morning in New York and decide to go to Montreal for the weekend and actually go.

Check old threads, the US doesn’t make you renounce citizenship but certain other countries do.

The UAE is notable. ~85% of the population are not citizens. You supposedly can get it after 20 years, although I met someone who was born(?) and raised there and wasn’t a citizen, parents were Indian national. She explained that it was very difficult but I don’t know if she tried.

Bolding mine. How poorly we treat our permanent residents! :slight_smile:

Does that give you the right to carry or purchase arms? Because Svalbard requires you to be armed outside of population centers. The polar bears are hungry, true story.