How to Get Dual Citizenship in the United States
The ability to hold dual citizenship in the United States can be beneficial to those looking to expand their options when it comes to living and working abroad, but dual citizenship isn’t as common as you might think. In fact, the United States only grants dual citizenship under very specific circumstances. To qualify for dual citizenship in the United States, you must have at least one parent who was born in the United States or naturalized as a U.S. citizen (though not everyone qualifies through their parents).
Dual citizenship (multiple citizenship) simply means that an individual is a citizen of two countries at the same given time. One can also be a citizen of three or more countries. However, all countries have their laws regarding the same. Some countries allow it and some do not, while certain countries have no particular laws regarding this.
Anyone who considers applying for dual nationality at the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will greatly benefit from having a complete understanding of the regulations governing such applications in the United States.
Dual citizenship in the United States is possible by either naturalization or birth. Both of these sources of dual citizenship require careful compliance with the processes outlined under US immigration law. The application process could seem simple on paper, but for a candidate lacking the necessary knowledge about costs, delays in the approval process, and other potential issues, it can occasionally be challenging.
Understanding Dual Citizenship in the United States
Being a citizen of two nations at once is known as dual citizenship or dual nationality. The majority of the countries immigration rules let a person obtain dual citizenship if they fulfill all the conditions set forth by the laws of the two countries. There are two routes you can use to acquire dual citizenship in the US.
The first is determined by parental and birthright. It entails that a child born to foreign-national parents on American soil receives automatic citizenship at birth. A person can claim citizenship in both the United States and the nation of his parents just by virtue of being born there. The one exception to this rule is that children of diplomats who were born in the U.S. do not automatically acquire citizenship.
The second route to gain dual citizenship with the United States is by naturalization, which can be done through marriage to an American citizen or by being in the country as a permanent resident for a specified amount of time. The immigration laws of this nation let a foreigner who marries an American citizen become an American citizen while retaining the citizenship of his or her home nation.
Additionally, a foreigner who is not married to a citizen of the United States may be granted citizenship in the United States without losing his or her citizenship in the country of origin. A US citizen can naturalize in another nation and keep their US citizenship in the same way. Either way, you can become a citizen of the United States.
Rights and Responsibilities of Dual Citizens
In addition to citizenship in another nation, having citizenship in the United States offers several benefits that may aid you in achieving specific objectives. But it's crucial to understand the responsibilities a naturalized American would have.
What rights do dual citizenship United States offer
Here are the rights of dual citizens in the United States:
- You can work anywhere: Job applications without a work visa prerequisite are open anywhere in the United States. However, because many federal positions demand a security clearance and the capacity to maintain the secrecy of classified state information, you might not be considered a dual citizen for certain positions. If you have allegiance to a country that has rival interests to those of the United States, that can be difficult.
- Travel without restriction: You have complete freedom to move around. You are not at any risk of losing your U.S. citizenship if you travel abroad for whatever length you wish. Additionally, green card holders must obtain a re-entry permit in order to return to the United States after a stay of more than a year abroad (permanent residents).
- You can get your family members green cards. Green cards can be applied for independently by your parents, grown children, and siblings.
- Vote: Any election in the US is open to voting. Only citizens of the United States are permitted to cast ballots in federal elections.
- You can attend school: Without a student visa and at international student prices, you can enroll at a U.S. institution.
- If necessary, you can access public benefits. You can apply for public benefits, such as access to tuition assistance that is exclusively available to citizens of the United States, provided you meet the eligibility requirements.
What obligations come with dual citizenship in the United States
Here are the responsibilities of dual citizens in the United States.
- You must pay taxes in the U.S. for life. No matter where you live, as a citizen of the United States, you are obligated to file (and pay, if necessary) U.S. income and other taxes for the rest of your life, including money earned abroad. This implies that, barring a bilateral agreement between the two countries that would allow dual citizens to avoid "double taxation," you would be required to pay taxes on the same income to both the United States and your other country of citizenship.
- Any prior contact with law enforcement must be disclosed. Officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who review citizenship petitions thoroughly investigate the histories of the applicants. You run the risk of being deported if you commit certain offenses, like immigrant fraud, drug misuse, or domestic abuse. Before submitting an application for naturalization, it's crucial to get legal counsel if you have any concerns about your history with the police.
- If it's necessary by law, you have to serve in the military. Unless they had an immigration status other than "green card holder," all males who arrived in the country or were granted a green card between the ages of 18 and 26 must register with the Selective Service System. A citizen of the United States is obligated to serve in the military (in combat or otherwise) in times of war if requested to do so by the government.
- You must serve on a jury when summoned. All citizens of the United States must serve on juries. However, you might not always be required to serve. To actually serve on a jury panel, you must be chosen by the judge and counsel involved in the case. Following your summons to court, the selection procedure takes place.
How to Get Dual Citizenship in the United States
There is no form or application that may be used to apply for "dual citizenship" in the US. Applying for second citizenship is all that is required to obtain dual citizenship.
It's imperative to get in touch with the embassy or consulate of your country of origin to confirm whether dual citizenship is permitted there in the first place before applying for U.S. citizenship as your second citizenship status. Otherwise, you can unknowingly lose your citizenship in that nation.
Make sure you've met all naturalization requirements once you've established that your nation of origin will accept your status as a citizen of the United States (unless you qualify for U.S. citizenship through a parent). Then, by filing Form N-400 (formally known as the "Application for Naturalization"), you can start the naturalization 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. Moreover, the USCIS application for citizenship is merely the first step in the procedure. Depending on the USCIS field office that receives your application and how quickly you begin the procedure, naturalization can take up to 1.6 years overall.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions on how to get dual citizenship in the United States.
Who can apply for dual citizenship in the U.S.?
Anyone who meets the criteria for naturalization may be able to become a citizen of the United States. To find out the requirements for your nation, you need to speak with the embassy or consulate of the other country with whom you share citizenship.
If I have dual citizenship, can I vote in both countries?
As long as you are a citizen of the United States and meet all other requirements, such as residency and age, you are qualified to vote there.
If I have dual citizenship with the U.S. and another country, which passport should I use when traveling?
If you are a citizen of the United States and have more than one passport, you must enter and exit the country using your U.S. passport. You are free to use whichever passport you like if you are not going to the United States.
What are the benefits of having dual citizenship vs. having a green card?
All of the aforementioned rights and obligations come with being a citizen of the United States. Even though you may have various responsibilities as a green card holder, you will still be eligible to live and work in the United States. For instance, you might need to apply for a re-entry permit in advance if you plan to leave the country for longer than a year.