The new parents announced the birth of their twins, Ella and Alexander, on Tuesday, adding in a statement, “Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine.”
But what about their nationality? With an American dad and a Lebanese-born and U.K-raised mom, Ella and Alexander’s ethnic background could make them citizens of any number of countries. Since the twins arrived in England, that makes them British citizens by birth, but according to family law attorney Atousa Saei, the children can apply for dual citizenship.
“There’s no restriction on their children having passports from both countries, so that’s not an issue,” Saei tells PEOPLE. “Where they’re born will make a difference at first, but ultimately even that won’t matter much. They can apply for dual citizenship for the other country, based on the fact that their mom is from the U.K. and their dad is from the U.S.”
However, the children will not legally be Lebanese. While Amal was born in Lebanon and has dual British and Lebanese citizenship, due to a nearly century-old law, Lebanese women are not allowed to pass on citizenship to their spouses or children. More than 77,000 Lebanese find themselves in a similar situation, according to a 2009 study reported by Reuters.
As for how they’ll apply for dual British and American passports, most families with means, like the Clooneys, will have an immigration attorney prepare the paperwork. Since both parents have lived and own property in the respective countries, Saei says getting a dual passport from either will be “pretty much automatic.”
Having two passports, Saei says, would be important to the Clooney family for several reasons. Perhaps most important, they will want to ensure their kids have no issues getting into the U.S. “Coming into the States is not easy, we have some of the toughest criteria for coming into the country,” Saei explains. “So having U.S. citizenship is kind of like having a golden passport, because you can come and go from the United States without any issue.”
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This is an especially important point given the nature of Amal’s work. “With Amal being so active with human rights and traveling in the Middle East — especially in countries that the U.S. has bad relationships with — having a U.K. passport could make it much easier for the kids to travel with her,” says the lawyer. “[Amal could] easily switch out the kids’ passports and travel with the one that’s more advantageous to the country they’re traveling to.”
The bottom line, Saei says, is that “for people of their caliber, who are always traveling, it’s always great to have as many passports as possible.”