Dual Citizenship in the United States, Explained
Dual citizenship (or dual nationality) means a person may be a citizen of the United States and another country at the same time. U.S. law does not require a person to choose one citizenship or another.
Dual Citizenship in the United States: A citizen of a country is someone who has the right to all the services and protection of a national government. Dual citizenship involves holding the status of a citizen in two countries.
Moreover, dual citizens hold full rights in both countries: they can vote, live, work, etc. Generally, people are citizens of the country they were born in. Moreover, it is also possible to be a citizen of more than one country. Although, not all countries allow dual citizenship, and the rules vary among countries that do.
Keep on reading to learn more about dual citizenship in the United States. This article offers a wider perspective on everything you need to know on the topic of dual citizenship. This article is for you if you plan to move to live and stay in the United States, and already have citizenship of your birth country.
What is Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship or dual nationality is a legal status in which a person is concurrently regarded as a national or citizen of more than one country under the laws of those countries. It means being a citizen of two countries at the same time and sharing the rights and responsibilities of the citizens in each country. Moreover, having passports issued by different governments is the most obvious sign of dual citizenship.
For many immigrants, reaching the point of becoming an American citizen is the light at the end of the tunnel. It ends the deal of uncertainty regarding the future and your safety and security. Citizenship means the end of the immigration journey. If you are not born in the United States, the only other way to become a US citizen is to naturalize.
Meanwhile, citizenship is not the same as being a US national. Although the two terms are used interchangeably, it might be important to understand the difference between citizenship and nationality. Conceptually, citizenship is focused on the internal political life of the country and nationality is a matter of international dealings. There is no international convention that determines the nationality or citizenship status of a person.
Can I Have Dual Citizen in the United States?
As far as America is concerned, you can have dual citizenship in the country. US law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A US citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her US citizenship.
That is to say, the United States government does not require naturalized US citizens to renounce citizenship in their birth country (or country of origin). Although the Oath of Allegiance to the United States speaks of renouncing “allegiance and fidelity” to other nations. US immigration law does not explicitly address the topic of dual citizenship.
However, just because the United States allows dual citizenship, doesn’t necessarily mean your country of origin does, too. Some other countries do not allow it. So, you must find out if your original country of citizenship recognizes dual citizenship to understand how many citizenships you can have.
Some countries, such as China and India, will not recognize your status as a naturalized American on their soil. You may even lose your citizenship automatically in those countries upon becoming a US citizen. Meanwhile, if you wish to become a US citizen and are a citizen of one of those countries. Then, you will need to consult an immigration lawyer before you apply for dual citizenship in the United States. The lawyer is in the best place to explain if you can have dual citizenship in the United States without having any legal issues in your country of origin.
How to Get Dual Citizenship in the United States
The process of getting dual citizenship in the US can be a bit tricky. However, there's no application or form available to file for dual citizenship in the US. You can follow the instructions below to guide you through the process:
- Check if your country of origin allows dual citizenship: Before you apply for US citizenship as your second citizenship status, it is important to contact the embassy or consulate of your country of origin to find out whether your country allows dual citizenship. Or consult an immigration lawyer. Otherwise, you may lose your citizenship in that country without knowing.
- Once you've determined that your country of origin will recognize your US citizenship status. Then check if you meet the naturalization requirements (unless you qualify for US citizenship through a parent)
- Age >18 years
- Green card holder, continuously living in the US for 3-5 years
- Residency in the district where you will apply
- ‘Good moral character
- Basic written and spoken English
- Knowledge of U.S. history and government.
- Then, begin the naturalization process by submitting Form N-400 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay the processing fee
- Attend your naturalization interview
- Complete the Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony questionnaire (Form N-445)
- Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States
Rights and Responsibilities of Dual Citizens
Having dual citizenship (i.e. US citizenship and that of another country) provides many advantages that could help you meet certain goals. Moreover, there are responsibilities that also come with those rights and it is important to be aware. However, we've outlined in the two subsections below some of the most important rights and responsibilities you will have as a US citizen:
Rights of individuals with dual citizenship in the United States
Below are a few of the rights you will have as a dual US citizen:
- Right to work: As a US citizen, you can apply for employment anywhere in the United States without a work visa or permit. But keep in mind that as a dual citizen, you may be overlooked or struggle to get certain federal jobs that often require a security clearance.
- Travel without restrictions: You can leave and re-enter the country as long and many as you’d like without any risk of losing your US citizenship. And if you plan to stay outside of the United States for longer than a year, you won’t need a re-entry permit in order to return, unlike a green cardholder.
- Green Card: As a dual US citizen, you can obtain green cards for your family. Your parents, adult children, and siblings can apply for their own green cards.
- Right to Vote: In the United States, only citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections. As a dual US citizen, you have the right to cast your vote in federal elections as well as state and local elections.
- Education: Moreover, citizenship gives the right to enroll in a US school without a student visa and without paying international student tuition rates.
- Access to Public Benefits: As a citizen, you have the right to receive public benefits including access to tuition assistance that’s available only to US citizens, if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Obligations of dual citizens in the United States
Moreover, just as we mentioned earlier, there are some important responsibilities that you will have along with all the rights you will get as a US dual citizen. They are as follows
- Pay US taxes: Taxes are used by the government to fund the various services that it provides to citizens. And it is mandatory that every citizen pay their taxes.
- You must disclose any previous encounters with law enforcement. The dual citizenship application process includes an evaluation of any encounters you may have had with law enforcement in your country of origin and the US. It is your responsibility to provide accurate information if you have a criminal record.
- Military draft: All males who have lived in the United States or received a green card between the ages of 18 and 26. Unless they had an immigration status other than “green card holder” — are required to serve in the armed forces if called upon to do so in a time of war.
- You must serve on a jury when summoned. It s mandatory for all U.S. citizens.
How Long is the Dual Citizenship Process?
Furthermore, you can apply any time after meeting the eligibility requirements for naturalization, which is usually 3-5 years after getting a green card. However, applying for dual citizenship in the US is a lengthy process. Filing your citizen application with the USCIS is only the first step of the process. Moreover, filing the application forms is usually fast. The processing can take up to 1.6 years. This depends on which USCIS field office receives your application and how soon you start the process.
In conclusion, anyone who fulfills the requirements for naturalization may be able to become a US citizen. Moreover, gaining dual citizenship in the United States can be complicated. However, you should contact the embassy or consulate of the other country you hold citizenship with to see what the requirements are for your country. Consulting a good immigration attorney can also make it easier.