American Dual Citizenship

american dual citizenshipDual citizenship simply means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. But this can get a little complicated. To which country is the citizen truly loyal? Which passport should be used when traveling? And which military is one obligated to serve? Every country has its own laws and policies concerning dual citizenship.

If you have American dual citizenship or are exploring the possibility of having it, there are some important aspects that you should understand.

U.S. Government Policy on American Dual Citizenship

Acquisition of American Dual Citizenship
Key Features of American Dual Citizenship
Countries That Allow American Dual Citizenship
Famous People with American Dual Citizenship

U.S. Government Policy on American Dual Citizenship

At one time dual citizenship was outlawed in the United States. You couldn’t have American dual citizenship. However, laws forbidding American dual citizenship were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 (Afroyim v. Rusk) and in a subsequent 1980 ruling (Vance v. Terrazas).

The U.S. government realizes that dual citizenship exists, but it does not encourage it as a matter of policy. According to the U.S. State Department, “U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another.”

You may be surprised to learn that the Oath of Allegiance recited during the Naturalization Ceremony requires new citizens to renounce their citizenship with their previous country. The Supreme Court chose to leave in place the requirement that new citizens must renounce their old citizenship during U.S. naturalization. However, in practice, the U.S. government does not pursue renunciation from the new citizen’s previous country and continues to consider the person’s original citizenship to be in effect.

Acquisition of American Dual Citizenship

People can obtain American dual citizenship either automatically or voluntarily. For example, a child born in the United States automatically qualifies to become an American citizen. In some cases the child might already be a citizen of another country because of the nationalities of the birth parents. This will depend on the unique laws of each country.

Likewise, a child born in another country to American citizen parents may be both an American citizen and a citizen of the country of birth. Again, this depends on the unique laws within that country of birth.

There are limitations to American dual citizenship, and one can lose American citizenship in some cases.

welcome to usa dual citizenship

A U.S. citizen who automatically receives citizenship from another country does not lose American citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign nationality by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship.

In order to lose the American citizenship, United States law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up American citizenship.

Key Features of American Dual Citizenship

If you have American dual citizenship or stand to acquire dual citizenship, there are some things you should know:

Loss of Citizenship

You will not lose your U.S. citizenship if you gain foreign citizenship automatically, such as through marriage or birth. But you can lose U.S. citizenship if you voluntarily apply for citizenship in another country. Read more.

Military Service

There is no military draft in the United States, but all men age 18-25 must sign up for the Selective Service. Contact the other country’s embassy or consulate for assistance if that country mandates military service of its citizens.

Travel Abroad

You may need to use two passports. You must use your U.S. passport to enter or leave the United States. Likewise, the country of dual citizenship may require you to use their passport. Check with that country’s rules by contacting their U.S.-based embassy.

Renouncing Citizenship

You can renounce U.S. citizenship at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. If you have American dual citizenship and want to renounce your foreign citizenship, contact the foreign country’s embassy or consulate for information on renouncing that country’s citizenship. Before renouncing citizenship, it is always wise to speak with an experienced immigration attorney that can educate you on how it will affect your specific situation.


 

Countries That Allow American Dual Citizenship

Countries that allow American dual citizenship include: Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt (requires prior permission), Finland, France, Germany (requires prior permission), Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa (requires permission) , South Korea, Sri Lanka (by retention), Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tonga, Turkey (requires permission), and the United Kingdom.

Countries that do not allow American dual citizenship include: Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Botswana, Brunei, Burma, Chile, China ,Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands , Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Countries are constantly changing their nationality laws; the list of countries above is subject to change. If you would like to have American dual citizenship, check with the country’s embassy within the United States for the most current rules.

Famous People with American Dual Citizenship

There are countless people that have dual citizenship. Sometimes it helps to know that many recognizable names and personalities are living with citizenship from more than one country. Here are just a few of the most high profile celebrities that have American dual citizenship.

angelina jolieAngelina Jolie is a native-born American citizen. However, her endless humanitarian work in Cambodia, including the establishment of a wildlife preserve, was recognized by the king of Cambodia in the form of citizenship in 2005.
natalie portman american dual citizenship israeliNatalie Portman was born in Israel but immigrated to the United States with her family as a young child. Although she has been wildly successful as a Hollywood actress, Portman has stated that she feels connected to her Israeli roots and would like to raise her children Jewish.

ricky martin puerto ricanRicky Martin was born in Puerto Rico and therefore is already a U.S. citizen. However, he obtained Spanish citizenship in 2011, saying he wanted to become closer to “a country with which I share many memories and strong ties born of my roots and the love they have given me since I first visited.”

nicole kidman australian american immigrantNicole Kidman is clearly Australian. Her parents are Aussies. She speaks with an Australian accent and grew up in Australia. She is in fact an Australian citizen. But she was also born in Hawaii, making her a dual citizen of the United States.

salma hayek mexican american immigrantSalma Hayek was born and raised in Mexico. She gained notoriety in the Mexican telenovela Teresa, but eventually immigrated to the United States where she is still one of Hollywood’s best regarded actresses. Hayek has become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

charlize theron south african american immigrantCharlize Theron is originally from South Africa. Considered one of Hollywood’s most beautiful and talented actresses, Theron became a U.S. citizen in 2007.

jim carrey canadian american immigrantJim Carrey was born a Canadian citizen and has gone on to a career as one of America’s great funny men. He is quoted as saying that the United States “helped define me and make my dreams come true.” Carrey became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2001.

craig ferguson scottish american immigrantCraig Ferguson got his entertainment career started in Scotland. In 2008, he famously broadcast his taking of the U.S. citizenship test as well as his swearing in on The Late Late Show.

For a comprehensive list of famous, accomplished and notable immigrant Americans, visit our Famous Immigrant Birthdays.

Dual Nationality

The concept of dual nationality is essentially the same thing as American dual citizenship. U.S. law (INA §101(a)22) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.” Therefore, a U.S. citizen is also a U.S. national, but a U.S. national isn’t necessarily a citizen. Non-citizen nationality status refers only individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States. The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time.

Additional Citizenship Resources

Citizenship Resource Center
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
How to Prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Test & Interview
What Happens After Filing N-400
More Articles about U.S. Citizenship

About CitizenPath

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Source: USCIS