Dual Citizenship

A person when he has dual nationality means that, he is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Every country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policies. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or, a person who is naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of his country of birth. Though the U.S. law does not mention dual nationality, it does it ask a person to choose one citizenship over another either. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. This means that, in order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship. The person's statements or conduct can show intent.

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The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. Normally it is seen that the country where a dual national resides generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance.

However, in most cases, dual nationals:

  • owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country
  • are required to obey the laws of both countries
  • either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there
  • must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.
  • may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country.

Use of the foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship. Most countries permit a person to renounce or otherwise lose citizenship.

Information on losing foreign citizenship can be obtained from the foreign country's embassy and consulates in the United States. Americans can renounce U.S. citizenship in the proper form at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

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