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What Is Dual Citizenship?
"Dual citizenship" means that an individual is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Your citizenship is determined by where you were born. If you were born in the United States, than you are most likely a U.S. Citizen.
Your citizenship can also be determined by the citizenship of your parents or family members. Many people gain dual citizenship at their birth through their parents. If a child is born in another country, then is brought to the United States because their parents are United States citizens and have fulfilled all residency requirements, then that child will become a dual citizen of the US and the country they were born in.
Is It Possible to Be a Dual U.S./Other Citizen?
Although the United States does not encourage dual citizenship because complications may arise, the Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. law unambiguously gives you the right to keep both citizenships for life if:
- You have been a dual citizen from birth or childhood, or
- You became a citizen of another country after already having a U.S. citizenship, and this other country doesn't have laws or regulations requiring you to formally renounce your U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consular.
What If I'm a Naturalized Citizen?
The situation is slightly unclear for persons who have become a U.S. citizen via naturalization and still use their old citizenship. This is because when you go through a U.S. naturalization process, you are required to state under oath that you are renouncing your old citizenship. People that act inconsistently with this pledge, such as using their other passport, can theoretically lose their U.S. citizenship. The State Department is however no longer actively pursuing such cases.
What Happens If Another Country Requires a Renunciation Oath?
If a foreign country, as part of its naturalization process, in a process similar to the U.S. one, requires its new citizens to swear an oath and renounce their U.S. citizenship, the U.S. State Department will probably not consider this a valid renunciation and won't acknowledge it. However if the other country requires such a person to approach a U.S. official to revoke their previous status, the situation is different and such a person generally will not be able to retain their U.S. citizenship.
Should I Contact an Immigration Lawyer?
Dual citizenship is a complex issue and it is important to understand that there are not only benefits, but also obligations and problems that come with being a dual citizen of two countries. It may be a good idea to talk to an immigration lawyer about your situation to make sure you're not endangering your U.S. citizenship or your other citizenship by trying to get a new one.
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Last Modified: 08-14-2014 02:36 PM PDT
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