The following article offers a wider perspective on the topic of dual citizenship, which is defined as being a citizen of two countries. You might be interested in this if you plan to move to live and stay in the U.S, and already have citizenship of your birth country. In the next passages, we will cover:

  • what is dual citizenship,
  • the difference between nationality and citizenship,
  • if the U.S. allows multiple citizenships,
  • brief information on how to obtain a second citizenship,
  • how to start the process of obtaining citizenship through naturalization
  • the list of advantages and disadvantages of having dual citizenship.

After reading this article you will also know which countries allow dual citizenship, how to get U.S. citizenship, and finally, what are other ways to get second citizenship in the U.S.

What is nationality?

Although the words ‘nationality‘ and ‘citizenship‘ are used interchangeably, it might be important to understand the difference between these two concepts. The word ‘citizenship’ is often used in internal affairs, internal political life, while ‘nationality’ is used on the international level to define a person’s country affiliation status – a resident status. In other words, having a nationality means being a legal citizen of a country. One can be U.S. national or U.S. citizen. Nationals of the United States and of another country that legitimizes dual citizenship can have two passports.

You can become a citizen through a variety of means. For example, in the United States, it is either by being born in the U.S. territory, birth abroad to a U.S. citizen parent, or through the naturalization procedure. The eligibility for the latter have, for example, permanent residents who hold Green Cards for at least five years.

Good to know: Not every country legitimizes citizenship obtained from being born on its territory. Most countries in the world grant this kind of citizenship through being born to national parents. It is called ius sanguinis, while U.S. law in this respect is called ius soli.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Dual Citizenship, otherwise known as dual nationality, is a legal status of a natural person, who is a national or citizen of more than one country under the laws of those countries. What is important to know, and is often misconceptualized, you are still subject to the rights and obligations if you have citizenship in another country – your country of origin. You should note that being a dual citizen is a complex legal status. Obtaining second citizenship always comes with additional responsibilities. The fact of the matter is that each nation claims that a particular person is considered a national and therefore is, like in the case of the U.S. law, “a person owing permanent allegiance to a state“. Another country has the right to enforce its laws upon you if you hold its nationality.

U.S. Citizenship

You can become a U.S. Citizen through a variety of means, some of which are: birth in the United States, being born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent, or through the naturalization process. In the next passages, we will list the advantages of holding U.S. Citizenship, but for now, all you need to know is that you can get second citizenship via the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). USCIS will evaluate your eligibility for naturalization and scrutinize many aspects of your life, especially your dealings with law enforcement. Certain types of violations such as immigration fraud, domestic violence can lead to your deportation. In these types of situations, you should seek legal advice, preferably from a law firm like ours that specializes in immigration matters.

How to get U.S. Citizenship?

If you are an immigrant, there are four basic ways to citizenship in the United States: citizenship through naturalization, citizenship through marriage, citizenship through birth, and citizenship through military service.

In an example of citizenship through naturalization, you may apply for it 3-5 years after getting a Green Card. The naturalization procedure can take up to 1,5 years.

When you become a citizen of the United States, fidelity and responsibility are two such words that are important in understanding your new citizenship status.

Does the U.S. allow Dual Citizenship?

Short answer: yes, U.S. allows dual citizenship.

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality specifically nor it requires a person to choose one nationality only. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in another country without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship.

Oath of Allegiance

This is something you must know before applying for your U.S. citizenship. The Oath of Allegiance to the United States is a sworn declaration that every citizenship candidate must recite during a formal ceremony to become a naturalized American citizen. The Oath ceremony is a tradition that dates back to the 18th century.

When taking the Oath, the new citizen pledges to fulfill the following obligations:

  • Support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States against its enemies.
  • Give up allegiance to any other nation or sovereign, and renounce hereditary or noble titles, if any.
  • Provide military or civilian service when called upon by the government to do so.

Attending the Oath of Allegiance ceremony is a mandatory final step of the naturalization process.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

How to get Dual Citizenship in the U.S?

You can obtain dual citizenship by marriage, by birth, by descent, or by going through the naturalization process. However, to determine the proper procedure for yourself you must first contact the authorities of your country of origin, such as an embassy or a consulate. You can describe your specific situation and legal status, for example, being a child of U.S. nationals. An official shall determine your citizenship status if you can acquire citizenship by marriage, or go through with the naturalization path. The latter option requires you to submit an N-400, Application for Naturalization with the U.S. government agency for immigration called the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can download the application form directly from the USCIS website.

How much does the N-400 application cost?

It costs $640. If you add the $85 biometric fee it is a total of $725. See exceptions on the USCIS website. In case you file your Form N-400 online, you may pay your fee online. The average processing time for citizenship (naturalization) applications is 8 months as of May 31, 2020.

PROS and CONS of Dual Citizenship

As we mentioned already with dual citizenship power comes greater responsibility.

We have listed below the advantages and disadvantages of holding dual citizenship in the U.S.

PROS

  • You can vote in any U.S. election.
  • You can obtain Green Cards for your family members.
  • You can travel between the U.S. and another country freely and without additional procedures. Traveling abroad becomes easier. You can enter and leave both countries freely. Having a resident’s passport eliminates the need for a long-stay visa and any examination about the purpose of your trip during the customs process. This can be especially useful if you have a family to visit in both countries, or citizens that are a student or businesspersons that handle affairs in both countries. You need a foreign passport to enter a foreign country.
  • More options for choosing a living place; enhances global mobility.
  • More options for top-class education.
  • More job opportunities.
  • You can work for the government, however small disclaimer here: sometimes you will need additional security clearance or will be forbidden to work in such jobs in another country for security/loyalty reasons.
  • You can apply for the public benefits programs.
  • You can access tuitions reserved only for U.S. citizens.

CONS

  • First and foremost dual citizenship means dual obligations. You are a subject of it in two countries.
  • Military service. All males between ages 18-26, unless other than Green Card holders, must register with a selective system and may be enlisted in the army in the case of war.
  • Serving on a jury. Although it may not immediately mean that you must serve once summoned you have to be ready for it it is mandatory for every US citizen.
  • You pay U.S. taxes for life, U.S. income, and other taxes, even for the income you earn in other countries, this means paying double taxes unless another country has a bilateral agreement that allows dual citizens to avoid double taxation.

Countries that recognize Dual Citizenship

Each country sets its standards for citizenship and the rights of citizenship, which change from time to time, quite often becoming more restrictive, especially if it’s a matter of national security or other political reasons. Sometimes you may lose your birth country citizenship, even if you were eligible for it before, so you should pay attention to the laws of the country of birth.

If you want to acquire second citizenship in the U.S., we advise that you contact the consulate of the embassy of the country of origin to make sure you won’t lose your citizenship. You can easily search the law of the country of birth with its requirements or contact us for more professional information. For your information, we mention here the most prominent examples of resident law.

– Nationals of Canada can have dual citizenship.

– Nationals of China can’t have dual citizenship. Once you become U.S. permanent resident you automatically lose Chinese citizenship.

– Cuba is an interesting example. Cuban authorities do not officially determine if they allow dual citizenship.

– For security reasons, Dominican nationals can’t run for president if they hold citizenship of another country.

– United Kingdom citizens who naturalize in the United States may keep their British citizenship. A child born in the United Kingdom is regarded as a citizen only if at least one parent is either a citizen or a legal permanent resident who has lived there for some years.

Another way to get second citizenship – Citizenship by investment

Citizenship-by-investment is an alternative route to acquire citizenship in the U.S. After obtaining a Green Card via the EB5 visa route, applicants can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of Permanent Residency. This is a naturalization procedure. The investing capital should be $500,000 for the E2 visa route and $900,000 for the EB5 visa.

Usually, people commonly speak of it as “buying a passport”, this is a colloquial phrase, and it means obtaining a passport by investment. Do not confuse it with the literal meaning of this expression, which is illegal.

If you want to get more information on this and related topics, contact our law firm for more details.

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