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How to Get Dual Citizenship: Requirements and Benefits of Dual Citizenship in the U.S.

How to Get Dual Citizenship: Requirements and Benefits of Dual Citizenship in the U.S.

There are currently 193 countries that are part of the United Nations, many of which have their own citizenship requirements. Whether you were born in the U.S. and are interested in becoming a permanent resident of another country, or you were born in another country and plan on becoming a U.S. citizen, you will want to look into the rules surrounding dual citizenship in your country.

What Is Dual Citizenship?

The term “dual citizenship,” also referred to as “dual nationality,” implies that you are a lawful registered citizen of two countries simultaneously and performing the duties of each. Along with fulfilling responsibilities of citizenship, dual citizens also get the privileges and rights of both countries. Not every country offers the choice for dual citizenship, and those that do often have their own set of rules surrounding it.

Dual Citizenship in the U.S.

The U.S. government allows naturalized U.S. citizens to keep citizenship in their country of origin. While the Oath of Allegiance to the United States that is spoken during the naturalization ceremony does mention renouncing any ties to other nations, citizens are not required on paper to relinquish their former citizenship. In general, the U.S. has no issue with an individual partaking in both the privileges and obligations of citizenship of the two countries.

It’s important to remember, however, that just because the U.S. allows dual citizenship does not mean that your country of origin allows the same liberties. Many countries will not acknowledge your American citizenship and some countries will automatically take away your citizenship when you become a U.S. citizen. Understanding the dual citizenship rules in your specific country is extremely important.

How to Apply for Dual Citizenship

As far as the U.S. is concerned, there is no “dual citizenship” status. To become a dual citizen of the U.S. or another country, all you need to do is obtain a second citizenship. There is no specific application or form in the U.S. for dual citizens, you simply need to file for naturalization.

Double-check with your own country before applying for U.S. naturalization so you don’t lose your citizenship without knowing about it. Contact your consulate or embassy for this information.

After you establish that your original country will accept your U.S. citizenship status, you can move on to the naturalization application. Form N-400, Application for Naturalization is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) document that you can submit to become a U.S. citizen.

If you meet all of the naturalization requirements, once you complete the naturalization process and receive your Certificate of Citizenship, you will technically become a U.S. citizen. Depending on the USCIS office that receives your application and how busy they are, this can take up to a year and a half.

U.S. Dual Citizen Rights

There are many benefits of dual citizenship given to citizens that naturalize in the U.S. When you are a U.S. dual citizen, you are able to work anywhere in the U.S. without a work visa. The only caveat to this is if you attempt to work for the U.S. government. You may be overlooked for some federal jobs that require a certain security clearance or confidentiality. This can be a problem if you have loyalties to a nation with conflicting interests to those of the U.S.

You can also travel abroad as much as you would like without losing your U.S. citizenship. If you stay somewhere outside of the U.S. for more than a year—unlike a permanent resident (green card holder)—you will not need to file a re-entry permit to return.

Dual citizens are able to get green cards for their parents, adult children, and siblings. If you’re a dual citizen, you can also vote in any U.S. election. You cannot vote in federal elections unless you are a citizen of the U.S.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will be able to apply for certain public benefits. This can include financial help or tuition assistance reserved for U.S. citizens. Additionally, you are able to enroll in a U.S. school without paying international tuition rates and without a student visa.

U.S. Dual Citizen Obligations

One of the disadvantages of being a U.S. citizen is that you have to pay taxes for life. As long as you are a citizen of the U.S. you will be required to file and pay income taxes and other taxes—even for money you make outside of the U.S. Unless a country has an agreement with the U.S. that allows you to avoid “double taxation,” you will be subject to dual citizenship taxes for both countries on the same income no matter where you live.

You are also required to be open and honest about any encounters with law enforcement in your country. USCIS officials that review citizenship applications do so very closely. There are some violations which can potentially subject you to deportation or removal proceedings. If you are worried about your previous encounters with law enforcement, you should seek legal help before attempting dual citizenship. Immigration fraud, drug abuse, domestic violence, or other serious crimes can cause issues when applying for dual citizenship.

If called upon by the government in a time of war, a U.S. citizen must serve the U.S. military. This includes males ages 18 to 26 who either lived in the U.S. or received a green card unless their status is something other than “green card holder.” These citizens must sign up for the Selective Service System, which only factors in during times of necessity.

The final requirement of dual citizenship is the obligation to serve on a court jury if summoned. While you may or may not be selected as a juror, and not everybody ends up having to serve, duty is mandatory for all U.S. citizens. The selection process happens after you have already been summoned.

U.S. Totalization Agreements

When it comes to the double taxation of both countries you are a citizen in, the U.S. does have agreements with certain countries to reduce this taxation burden. In order of the date added, these are the nations that have taxation policies, or totalization agreements, with the U.S.:

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • Greece
  • South Korea
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Czech Republic
  • Poland
  • Slovak Republic
  • Hungary
  • Brazil
  • Uruguay
  • Slovenia
  • Iceland

Each of these countries has different rules, which makes it even more important to enlist the help of an experienced immigration lawyer who knows the rules and can help you navigate through changes.

List of Countries and Allowance of Dual Citizenship

Over two-thirds of the world’s countries allow dual citizenship, but the rules are different for many of them. The table below consists of the ten countries with the most eligible green card holders who could naturalize as a U.S. dual citizen:

Country Allows U.S. Dual Citizenship Additional Information
Canada Yes Canadian citizens are able to keep both citizenships upon naturalizing.
Dominican Republic Yes Dominican citizens keep citizenship when they naturalize in the U.S. However, Dominican dual citizens are not able to run for Dominican president or vice president, and cannot be diplomats or consuls of the Dominican Republic.
El Salvador Yes Only individuals who were born in El Salvador can keep their Salvadoran citizenship when naturalizing in the U.S.
Mexico Yes Mexican citizens who naturalize in the U.S. keep their nationality but cannot vote or be involved with public office in Mexico. Mexican citizens who became U.S. citizens before 1998 automatically lost their Mexican nationality and had to reapply in 5 years to get it back.
Philippines Yes While citizens lose their Filipino citizenship upon U.S. naturalization, any natural-born Filipinos may reclaim it.
United Kingdom Yes British citizens are able to keep both citizenships upon naturalizing.
Vietnam Yes While citizens lose their Vietnamese citizenship upon U.S. naturalization they are able to apply to reclaim it.
China No Any Chinese citizen who naturalizes in the U.S. will consequently lose their Chinese citizenship.
India Partially Citizens of India who naturalize in the U.S. lose their Indian citizenship but can become “Overseas Citizen of India” (OCI). OCIs are able to enter and do not have to register as foreign nationals, but cannot be politically involved in any Indian processes.
Cuba Unknown Regardless of a child’s nationality, if they are born in Cuba, they will be treated as a Cuban citizen. Otherwise, the rules surrounding dual citizenship in Cuba and the U.S. are unclear.

 

Other countries that allow dual citizenship with their own rules include the following countries:

  • Albania
  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cape Verde
  • Republic of Chad
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Republic of Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Eswatini
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Nauru
  • Netherlands
  • New Guinea
  • New Zealand
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Samoa
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Korea
  • Kitts and Nevis
  • Lucia
  • Vincent
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Togo
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia

Some of the countries on this list also have rules officially barring dual citizenship, but there are often ways around that. For example, Panama requires you to relinquish citizenship of any other country before becoming a citizen; however, the U.S. won’t recognize your relinquishment unless you perform it in front of an official or at a U.S. embassy.

Some other countries only allow natural-born citizens to hold U.S. dual citizenship.

Different countries have a variety of different rules that can cause issues during the dual citizenship process. Hiring an experienced immigration lawyer is a good way to prevent any serious issues.

Dual Citizenship FAQs

Do I have to renounce my citizenship to become an American citizen?

The answer to this question depends on which country you are already a citizen in. Some countries will require you to renounce your citizenship, not allowing dual citizenship. Others will allow you to be a citizen in both as long as you follow the rules and continue to maintain certain obligations to each country.

Can I accidentally lose my U.S. citizenship?

If you’re a dual citizen, there are a few circumstances that could cause you to lose your U.S. citizenship.

One of the ways you might lose citizenship is if you willingly join a hostile foreign military. If a country’s military forces are currently hostile towards the U.S. and you enlist or serve as an officer, you will lose your U.S. citizenship. Your intention is an important part of this, however, because if you become a soldier or officer in a foreign military that is not hostile toward the U.S., you will not lose citizenship.

The other way you risk losing your U.S. citizenship is by working for a foreign government with the explicit intention of renouncing your citizenship. As long as there is no evidence that you wish to abandon your U.S. citizenship, you can work in a non-policy position. If you work in a policy-making position, you will be further investigated by the U.S. State Department. You should contact the State Department or embassy if you’re in this position and still wish to retain your U.S. citizenship.

What if my country does not allow dual citizenship?

Just because your country does not officially allow dual citizenship does not mean there’s no way to acquire citizenship in multiple countries. There are also some countries that have other programs which allow individuals to opt to have limited rights in one country when becoming a U.S. citizen.

Can I have triple citizenship?

Similar rules apply for triple citizenship and dual citizenship. Check with your embassy or consulate to confirm if you are allowed multiple citizenships.

Dual Citizenship With Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

If you are looking to gain dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country, or for some reason your application for U.S. citizenship was denied, reach out to our Chicago immigration law firm for legal assistance.

Our experienced immigration attorneys have the knowledge to help you navigate the hurdles of dual citizenship and determine what needs to be done to successfully get your application through.

Fill out a contact form on our website to get started figuring out your citizenship today.

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