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A Guide to U.S. Dual Citizenship

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a momentous occasion. This change in status endows individuals with several new privileges and protections. These include eligibility to:

  • Travel using a U.S. passport;

  • Sponsor family members to live in the U.S. and obtain citizenship for children under 18;

  • Apply for federal grants and scholarships;

  • Apply for public benefits;

  • Apply for federal jobs and run for public office;

  • Serve on a jury; and

  • Vote in U.S. federal elections.

Furthermore, U.S. citizens' right to live in the U.S. is protected (i.e. they cannot be deported).

Dual Citizenship/Nationality

Dual citizenship allows an individual to be a citizen of multiple countries simultaneously. The United States permits its citizens to hold dual citizenship.

These individuals owe allegiance to both the U.S. and the foreign territories where they hold citizenship. Consequently, they must obey both countries' laws, and each country has the right to exercise its jurisdiction over its citizens.

Restrictions of Dual Citizenship

Travel Requirements

Once someone is a U.S. citizen, he/she must use a U.S. passport to enter and exit the U.S. Similarly, many countries require that their passports be used by any of their citizens at every entry and exit.

Endorsement of Dual Citizenship

Some countries do not permit dual citizenship and may require individuals to renounce all of their foreign nationalities. Other countries may not oppose dual citizenship and do not have legislation regulating it.

Meanwhile, some countries mandate that you register your foreign nationalities.

Jurisdiction in Other Countries

If an individual encounters difficulty while traveling (e.g. in an emergency or commits a crime), the U.S. may have limited jurisdiction to assist if the individual is in his/her home country or did not enter the country using a U.S. passport.

Accordingly, it is crucial for a person to investigate what restrictions may apply before making travel plans.

Criminal Acts

If a U.S. citizen is arrested or detained abroad, the country in question may not contact the U.S. embassy. If you find yourself in this situation, you should request that police or prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate.

In some foreign countries, as a compromise, a U.S. citizen (who is also a citizen of that foreign state and is charged with having committed a crime therein) may instead be merely barred from leaving the foreign state as opposed to being detained there.

Some foreign countries subject dual-citizen visitors to exit bans to coerce the return of criminal associates/relatives abroad (for the purpose of standing trial) before allowing their associates/relatives to leave those countries.

Double Taxation

U.S. citizens may be required to pay taxes in all of the countries where they hold citizenship.

Military Service

Some countries mandate national military service. This requirement may be enforced when U.S. citizens attempt to enter or leave their other country of citizenship.

For more information, visit: Travelers with Dual Nationality

If you would like to apply for citizenship or discuss another immigration matter, contact us here.

We assist countless foreign nationals and we will be happy to personally assist you with your application as well. Send us an E-mail or call us at (888)354-6257. For reasons on why you should consult an immigration attorney whenever you have an immigration issue, see our page titled: Reasons Why it is Vital to Use an Immigration Lawyer.



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