Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have received Greek citizenship, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Sunday.
Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski visited the American couple on the island of Paros and gave them their new Greek passports and citizenship documents.
The four took a photo together, which Mitsotakis posted on his Instagram account on Sunday morning.
The couple and their children became honorary Greek citizens last year — after officials highlighted Hanks’ role in helping raise awareness about the 2018 fires that devastated areas near Athens that claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
Wilson, 63, who is partly of Greek descent, and Hanks, 64, a Greek Orthodox convert, have often been spotted spending their vacations in Greece, where they also own property on the island of Antiparos.
The two have produced several films based on the Greek community and never shy away from sharing their admiration for the country and its people.
“I’ve been Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years,” Hanks told reporters at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards earlier this year. He also referred to Greece as “a haven”.
US vs EU Citizenship
The US has long been a major world superpower with immigration to the country coveted by many. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, one in five potential migrants named the US as their preferred destination for permanent migration.
However, EU countries like Germany, the UK and France followed in the ranking.
Germany’s popularity rose significantly after Chancellor Angela Merkel promised “no limit” to the number of refugees her country would accept.
By contrast, the UK lost some of its allure during the lead-up to the Brexit vote, with 35 million potential migrants naming it as their desired destination between 2013 and 2016, down from 43 million between 2010 and 2012.
EU passports are among the most coveted passports in the world. EU citizens can enter a plethora of countries without a visa, making it one of the most desirable travel documents.
As far as advantages of EU citizenship go, there are many, including international mobility, unlimited working rights in the EU, the right to healthcare and consular protection by EU member states.
Although Hanks and Wilson are already US citizens, they join a handful of others who can lean on a second passport, especially in unpredictable political and social times. Having a second passport means you may be able to travel where others cannot.
With borders finally loosing up to countries who have been able to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the world is united in one aspect of their current response: Travellers from the United States are not welcome.
A few weeks ago, five travellers from the US who set out for a getaway on Sardinia were turned away after their private jet landed on the Mediterranean island. In Canada, two Americans were fined for flouting tougher entry restrictions imposed by their northern neighbour.
And in Mexico, governors are pleading with the central government to introduce tighter restrictions on travellers from the United States to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Although the star couple received their citizenship as an honorarium, more common routes to attain second citizenship are through birth-right, naturalisation, and for those with accumulated wealth, Citizenship by Investment (CBI).
CBI is the process of obtaining a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country. CBI programmes legally confer citizenship status faster than traditional immigration processes that do not require investors to put their lives on hold.
Some of the frontrunners in offering CBI programmes are nations like Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, which are also part of the UK’s list of countries exempt from quarantine.