Is It Legal To Become A Citizen Of An Off-World Nation?

Donald Trump has a shot at becoming one of the world’s most powerful men. We’ve reached the carbon tipping point for Global Warming on Earth. Pauline Hanson is on the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) committee. Kind of makes you want to jump on a spaceship and leave this world behind, doesn’t it?

Good news! You can sign up to become a citizen of Asgardia, a space-based nation that is currently at the early planning stage. So how would that work out for Australian citizens? Will you lose your citizenship if you want to be a part of Asgardia? Let’s find out.

Asgardia will be a space nation that is dedicated to “expanding peaceful exploration of space for the benefit of humanity”. It is led by Igor Ashurbeyli, chairman of UNESCO’s Science of Space Committee and founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre in Vienna. Asgardia plans to launch its first satellite in 2017 and will eventually house Asgardian nationals on a space station that orbits Earth.

According to the proposed space nation’s official website:

“Asgardia is the prototype of a free and unrestricted society which holds knowledge, intelligence and science at its core along with the recognition of the ultimate value of each human life.”

Sounds like paradise for the science-minded (but is also eerily reminiscent of Rapture from the video game BioShock or the titular floating city in the movie Elysium). Right now, this is all a concept and it remains to be seen whether Asgardia will come into fruition. The Asgardia project team needs tens of thousands of citizens before it can apply for formal recognition by the United Nations. As of now, 352,230 individuals have signed up to be part of this space nation, including Gizmodo Australia editor Campbell Simpson.

If Asgardia is granted formal recognition as a nation, what happens to Australian citizens that have applied to be a part of it?

Australia does allow for dual, or multiple, citizenship. According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection:

“It is possible to hold citizenship of two or more countries if the law of those countries allow. This is known as dual, or multiple, citizenship.
“People can become dual citizens automatically, or after being granted citizenship of another country.
“For example, an Australian citizen may automatically gain citizenship of another country through marriage, while a permanent resident of Australia may become a dual citizen by becoming an Australian citizen.”

So there you have it: you won’t have to renounce your Australian citizenship once Asgardia is formally recognised. That is, unless Asgardia decides it won’t allow dual citizenship.

Interestingly, prior to 2002, Australian citizens who took up another nationality in a different country would lose their Australian citizenship immediately. Before that, amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 which was introduced in 1986, allowed immigrants to retain their original nationality but Australians migrating overseas were not allowed to retain their citizenship.

All this talk about living in space may sound a bit ridiculous to some, but let’s not forget that the likes of Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk are investing heavily into space travel. In fact, Musk has plans to colonise Mars in the not-so-distant future.

Citizenships laws could change before Asgardia becomes a proper nation but, for now, feel free to register to become an Asgardian.

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.

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