Most people in cryptocurrency are well aware of the ICO boom of 2017. This means that they are also likely familiar with the fact that ICOs do not allow investors from the United States to participate in most cases. Recently, I wondered if this also applied to U.S. dual citizens. Would a dual citizen be allowed to participate using his or her other citizenship? I wanted to find out, so I did some research.
Dual Citizens and ICOs
I want to start off by saying I am not a immigration or citizenship law expert, so all of my analysis here should be taken with a grain of salt. You should always conduct your own independent research.
As many of you know, the main reason that U.S. citizens are not allowed to participate in ICOs is because the U.S. sees ICO tokens as securities and needing to be regulated as such. Since ICOs cannot guarantee that accredited investors are the U.S. citizens taking part, most have closed the door on Americans all together. Read The Merkle’s article for a more in-depth presentation of these guidelines.
The United States tolerates but does not encourage dual citizenship. In fact, the U.S. does not recognize dual citizenship. This is because no U.S. law mentions dual citizenship or require dual citizens to choose between their two nationalities. The only instance where individuals would need to choose is if they were applying for foreign citizenship that might necessitate forfeiting U.S. citizenship. Most dual citizens have both nationalities at birth, so they would not encounter this situation.
While dual citizens have two passports, presenting their non-U.S. passport at a U.S. border or customs check leads to a lot of questions and a major inconvenience for the traveler. This is because the U.S. essentially does not recognize dual citizens as dual citizens at all, but rather just as U.S. citizens. Showing a non-U.S. passport as a U.S. citizen would be strange and raise inquiries.
Dual citizens get to enjoy the benefits of both of their citizenships, such as visa-free work and living in those nations. However they would also potentially be subjected to civic duties such as conscription and – for the U.S. anyway – dual taxation. So I wondered if dual citizens would be able to use their non-U.S. citizen privileges to participate in ICOs.
Sadly, from what I understand, this is not the case. All of the above suggests that dual citizens are just seen as U.S. citizens by financial authorities. Since the U.S. is very strict about its citizens’ ability to invest in securities, and the fact that the country taxes citizens’ income regardless of where they are living in the world, trying to circumvent this might spell disaster. While the individual might legally be two different people – most dual citizens are issued two birth certificates, one from each country of citizenship – separating the two financially is impossible.
There are many cool benefits of being a dual citizen, but it does not appear that participating in the hot world of ICOs is one of them just yet.