Does the United States Allow Dual Citizenship?
Updated on 12/18/2021
One of the most wonderful aspects of the United States is its diversity. This nation is composed of a variety of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures. Within this vast blend of peoples are individuals who are very proud of their countries of origin.
Therefore, if you are seeking to become a United States citizen, you may feel a sense of loss if you feel compelled to renounce your citizenship in your former nation. Fortunately, you might be able to maintain dual citizenship between the USA and your former country after your U.S. naturalization ceremony takes place.
1. What is Dual Citizenship?
There is no difference between dual citizenship and dual nationality. The two terms can be used interchangeably.
Essentially, dual nationality means that a person can hold citizenship in two countries at the same time. They can benefit from the rights allowed to citizens of each country, but they also have double the responsibilities.
Although the United States allows its naturalized residents to hold citizenship in more than one nation, not every country of origin allows for dual nationality. Therefore, if a foreign national does not want to renounce their citizenship in their former nation, they should research whether their country of origin allows for dual citizenship before pursuing U.S. naturalization.
2. Countries That Allow Dual Citizenship
If dual citizenship is desired, the first thing a candidate for U.S. citizenship should do is to make sure that their country of origin allows for it.
Dual Citizenship in the United States
The United States neither promotes nor denies dual citizenship. Essentially, when a foreign national swears in as a naturalized U.S. citizen, they are not required to simultaneously renounce their citizenship in their prior nation.
According to the Supreme Court decision in Kawakita v. United States (1952), “The concept of dual citizenship recognizes that a person may have and exercise the rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both.” Thus, when a national of a foreign country swears in as a U.S. citizen, they can retain their former rights and duties while taking on those of the United States.
Other Dual Nationality Countries
Just because the United States allows its citizens to hold dual nationality does not mean that every country of origin does as well. Only certain countries allow their citizens to continue to be nationals of that place after they swear in as U.S. naturalized citizens.
Each country has its own rules regarding dual citizenship. So it is important to research the detailed rules of each foreign country, even if its laws do allow for dual citizenship. Some examples of countries that allow U.S. citizens to be dual citizens of their nation as well include the following:
Some of the nations that require a person to renounce their citizenship of origin when they become a naturalized U.S. citizen include Mainland China and India. However, India allows its former citizens to register as an Overseas Citizen of India.
3. How to Get Dual Citizenship in the USA
There are actually two ways to achieve dual citizenship in the United States. Immigrants who eventually become U.S. naturalized citizens may want to keep their citizenship in their former nation. Additionally, some Americans who were born in the United States, but have parents that were born elsewhere, may wish to obtain dual citizenship.
Foreign Nationals Who Want Dual Citizenship
As was stated above, the United States does not require a candidate for naturalization to renounce their citizenship in their country of origin at their swearing in ceremony.
Therefore, so long as the new U.S. citizen comes from a country that allows them to retain their foreign citizenship, they will have dual nationality.
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Persons Who Were Born in the USA and Want to Be Dual Citizens
At the other end of the spectrum are those who were born in the USA or have a parent who was born in America. If someone has immigrant parents, but they were born in the U.S., they could apply for dual citizenship to the country of their parents’ nation of origin if that location allows for it.
Furthermore, if person was born outside the United States, but they have a parent who is an American citizen, they too can have dual citizenship. However, it is important to remember that, although dual citizenship endows certain rights to those who hold it, there are also duties to each of the nations of citizenship.
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4. Benefits of Dual Citizenship
You might be attracted to attaining dual citizenship because you are interested in the benefits of being a national of two countries. If you are a citizen of two countries, then you can vote or run for office in more than one nation, and you might maintain a foreign passport.
However, if you do hold dual citizenship, you could cease to be an American citizen if you take part in certain activities. These include serving in the military of a foreign country, or committing acts of treason against the United States. Barring these extreme situations, it can be blessing to experience citizenship in more than one nation.
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