In today's interconnected world, being a part of more than one country is becoming more common. These "dual citizens" experience both countries' benefits, cultural experiences, and economic opportunities. But at the same time, they are responsible for following two national laws. Dual citizenship is when a person is a citizen of two different countries. This means a person can be a citizen of the United States and another country like Canada, Mexico, or the Philippines. Once a person becomes a dual citizen, they will have legal rights and obligations in their home country and the United States.
Getting Dual Citizenship
A person residing in the United States may get dual citizenship through various means, such as:
- Being born in the United States to immigrant parents
- Being born in their country of birth outside the U.S. to one parent who is a U.S. citizen and another parent who is a citizen of another country
- Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen while maintaining citizenship in another country
- Regaining citizenship in a country of origin after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen
Foreign nationals who want American citizenship may have to navigate the immigration process via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. consular office in their home country can also do the immigration processing. If you hold several passports, renewing and using them appropriately in each country is crucial. In the U.S., this might mean you must use your U.S. passport when entering the country. Understanding the eligibility requirements for dual citizenship is crucial. You should also observe specific rules to maintain your immigration status as a dual citizen.
Understanding the Responsibilities and Benefits of Dual Citizenship
People with dual citizenship can enjoy various benefits. That includes full citizenship rights in many countries. They can also avail themselves of the protections under each country's citizenship laws. Also, American citizens enjoy the exemption from deportation, which applies to noncitizens. But dual citizens also have responsibilities to the countries of their nationality. This includes paying income tax in more than one country. They may also be required to follow particular national laws, like registering for the Selective Service in the United States. Migrants with second citizenship in another country should maintain their lawful permanent resident status. Their green card usually represents their lawful permanent residency in the U.S. This is to avoid possible legal complications such as deportation or removal. Also, not all countries allow dual citizenship. Thus, consulting an immigration attorney who can offer professional advice on immigration laws is advisable. They can also assist with processing visas with the USCIS. Immigration attorneys can also give support with the citizenship test or English test.
Recognition of Dual Citizenship in the U.S.
While the U.S. does not explicitly promote dual citizenship, it acknowledges and accepts this status. U.S. laws do not require a person to choose a U.S. nationality over another. Thus, U.S. citizens may get naturalization in foreign countries without risking their U.S. citizenship. But naturalized U.S. citizens need to abide by U.S. laws. This rule applies whether they have dual citizenship. A dual citizen may carry a foreign passport, vote in another country's election, or run for public office. They can do all these without forfeiting their U.S. citizen status. But, such actions could potentially be interpreted as an intention to renounce U.S. citizenship, which could result in the loss of this status.
Loss of Citizenship Due to Dual Citizenship
A U.S. citizen may lose their nationality by doing acts intending to relinquish their U.S. citizenship. These acts include the following:
- Being naturalized in a foreign country after applying for naturalization
- Taking an oath of allegiance to another country or affirming or declaring allegiance to another country
- Serving the armed forces or military service to a foreign country in either of these two cases: (1) that a foreign country is at war with the United States; or (2) the person serves as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer
- Accepting a position in the government of a foreign country or its subdivision
- Renouncing your U.S. citizenship in the U.S. embassy of a foreign country
- Writing a renunciation of U.S. nationality before an Attorney General
- Committing treason against the United States, attempting to overthrow the government by taking up arms, or waging war against the U.S. government
Seek Legal Help
The laws regulating dual nationality can be intricate and challenging to understand. The processing can be overwhelming, especially for those without a background in U.S. law. But, uncertainty should not deter you from pursuing dual citizenship. If you or your family member have questions about dual citizenship application, contact an immigration attorney near you. They can provide you with information that is particularly tailored to your case.
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Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you with the citizenship process.