Dual citizenship means that a person is a citizen of 2 countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of his country of birth. Or, he may have one citizenship at birth and may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual citizen.
U.S. law does not mention dual citizenship or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so. In order to relinquish U.S. nationality by virtue of naturalization as a citizen of a foreign state, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Intent may be shown by the person’s statements and conduct.
U.S. citizens, including dual citizens, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual citizens may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport to travel to or from a country other than the United States is not inconsistent with U.S. law.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship
- Dual citizens enjoy certain benefits, such as the ability to live and work in 2 countries, own property in both countries, and travel between the countries.
- Downsides of being a dual citizen include the potential for double taxation, the long and expensive process for obtaining dual citizenship, and the fact that they become bound by the laws of two nations.
- Applying for dual citizenship may be a complicated and expensive process that may require the assistance of an immigration lawyer.
Dual Citizenship in the United States
If you want to apply to become a citizen of the United States, you must have lived in the U.S. as a green card holder for 5 years or 3 years if you are filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Other eligibility requirements include being at least 18 years old, being able to read, write, and speak basic English, pass a US history and government test, be a person of good moral character and take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
You must also pay a fee of over $1,100 to file an application for naturalization. For most people, the complicated process for gaining citizenship requires the help of an immigration lawyer. Immigration lawyers can help individuals achieve citizenship, although they also require fees for their services. To apply for permanent residency, most individuals file form 1-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Some persons apply for green cards at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
To apply for naturalization, you must complete and file form N-400, an application for naturalization.
The following countries allow dual citizenship. The countries which allow dual citizenship only under particular circumstances are marked with an asterisk.
|Albania||Algeria||Angola||Antigua & Barbuda||Argentina||Armenia|
|Romania||Russia||Serbia||Slovenia||South Africa||South Korea|
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.