A U.S. national is defined as any person who "owes their sole allegiance to the United States." This includes both U.S. citizens and certain persons who are not citizens. For legal and tax uses, the term "U.S. national" refers to persons born in the American Samoan Islands. It also refers to persons born in the Northern Mariana Islands who have chosen to be classified as U.S. Nationals rather than citizens.

U.S. nationals have many rights and privileges under U.S. laws. They may also have specific duties and obligations under U.S. law such as the duty to serve in the U.S. military branches when called upon.

What’s the Difference between a National and a Citizen?

In comparison, a citizen of the United States is someone who:

  • Was born in the United States
  • Has been naturalized as a citizen
  • Was born in Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands

There are also complex laws regarding persons whose parents are U.S. citizens. For instance, the Child Citizenship Act provides automatic citizenship for certain persons whose parents meet strict requirements.

Are There Any Restrictions Associated with Being a U.S. National?

Both U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals share similar rights. For instance, both are eligible to hold U.S. passports. However, U.S. nationals are not entitled to vote, nor can they hold office. Nationals can also apply for U.S. citizenship in a manner similar to lawful permanent residents (LPR’s).

Lastly, U.S. nationals can sometimes be nationals of two countries. This is known as dual nationality and is often referred to as dual citizenship. However, nationality in the second country may sometimes require the person to renounce their U.S. nationality status.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

U.S. immigration laws can be very complex and highly detailed. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you have any questions or legal issues regarding your status. A qualified immigration lawyer can explain your rights and obligations under U.S. law. Also, if you have any legal disputes or complaints, or if you need to file an application, your lawyer can represent you with those as well.