Sunday, 14 September 2014

Aussies warned on the pitfalls of dual nationality

  • (AAP) (Source: AAP)
The Migration Institute of Australia says people need to be fully informed about the advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship.
Greg Dyett
World News Radio
30 OCT 2013 - 7:46 AM  UPDATED 2 NOV 2013 - 3:49 PM
(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
Being a citizen of two countries brings many advantages, such as better-paying jobs, access to two social security systems and the protection of two governments.
But there are also many pitfalls.
When dual Australian-Swiss citizen Ernst Harlacher travelled to Switzerland, he ended up with the country detaining him in its hospital system after he was diagnosed with dementia.
Listen to the full story by clicking on the audio tab above.
Despite his lawyer's best efforts he was prevented from returning to Australia, where he had lived for more than 40 years.
He died in Switzerland last September.
The executor of his estate, lawyer Peter Ng, says it serves as a reminder to people that Australia can be prevented from intervening to any great extent in foreign jurisdictions.
"They need to recognise that there are instances where DFAT (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) cannot do anything at all. They should also recognise that there are instances where DFAT isn't going to do very much, and this is the problem with Mr ...'s case, because DFAT took the option of leaving it to the Swiss because he was a Swiss national, born in Switzerland, (and was) in Switzerland. Had he gone to Russia via another country like Austria, he would have been fine."
The national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, Angela Chan, has another warning.
She says dual nationals can get caught out when it comes to compulsory military service that exists in countries such as Israel.
"People who come to Australia and were born overseas and become citizens with either their family or when they get older, and then they return to their home country and they haven't, for example, done their military service before they left their home country, which is compulsory in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, then they would be compelled to still undertake that military service."
Then there are the added complications if a couple gets divorced with two jurisdictions and two sets of laws.
And Ms Chan warns that situation can become far worse if there are children from the relationship that has broken down.
"In many countries overseas, the male, or the father, has automatic rights to custody of the children, so it becomes a very serious issue. And people will do anything to protect their rights. And, often in cases with people overseas, they will exercise their rights of custody, and, you know, you could find that you could be left without your children."
Ms Chan says dual nationals can be just like any others who take the attitude that the worst-case scenarios just will not apply to them.
"Most people are aware of the problems that may arise with dual citizenship, but they have this very laissez faire attitude -- 'It won't happen to me, nothing's going to happen to me' -- and a lot of people go off, they get married overseas, people with all the good intentions in the world, they have a lovely family and everything, then, all of a sudden, the marriage breaks down. It's not a new phenomenon."

No comments:

Post a Comment