Dual Citizenship is a term describing an individual who is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Multiple citizenship can also be held by an individual who is a citizen of three or more countries. However, all countries have their own laws regarding the recognition of multiple citizenship. Some countries recognize multiple citizenship, some do not, and some countries have no specific laws dealing with multiple citizenship.
Dual Citizenship in the United States
In the U.S., certain individuals hold multiple citizenship automatically. Multiple citizenship cannot be applied for but is recognized when a person becomes a citizen of another country in addition to his or her country of birth. For example, a child born in the United States to foreign parents gets dual citizenship because it is automatically a citizen of the United States as well as a citizen of its parents’ home country. This also applies to children born abroad to U.S. citizens because the child is both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does not clearly define multiple citizenship and does not take a position for or against it. Though there have been no outright restrictions against such citizenship, some provisions of the INA and earlier U.S. laws were designed to reduce situations in which multiple citizenship exist. Although it is mandatory for naturalizing citizens to undertake an oath renouncing previous allegiances to other countries, the oath has never been enforced for individuals failing to officially renounce their original citizenship.
The U.S. Government does not endorse multiple citizenship, but it does recognize its existence and accepts the maintenance of multiple citizenship by U.S. citizens. In the past, claims of other countries on dual-nationality U.S. citizens sometimes put them in situations where the citizen’s obligations to one country were in conflict with the laws of the other country. However, as fewer countries have needed military service, and more emphasis has been placed on residence instead of citizenship for other obligations such as the payment of taxes, these conflicts have been reduced. This has led to a significant increase in the number of persons who maintain their U.S. citizenship while in another country.
If a U.S. citizen voluntarily takes up citizenship in another country, the U.S. will consider them to have renounced their U.S. citizenship. However, not all countries hold similar views. Citizens from other countries who become U.S. citizens may still be considered citizens by their country of origin, depending on its laws.
Not all countries allow multiple citizenship. If you are from a country that allows multiple citizenship with the U.S., and the U.S. recognizes multiple citizenship with your country, you can undertake the U.S. naturalization process by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.