Dual Citizenship Under U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law

According to the US Department of State, to hold dual citizenship or dual nationality means a person must be a national or hold citizenship of two countries at the same time. Though no specific provisions exist in law for this condition as they do inother countries, the Government of the United States recognizes the existence of dual citizenship while discouraging it as a matter of practice due the complications that may occur for the dual national. US law thus does not prohibit dual nationality and does not require a citizen to choose one nationality, but it is possible, though very uncommon, to lose US citizenship through accepting foreign nationality under certain circumstances.

Generally, if a US citizen obtains foreign nationality automatically, perhaps by parentage, his or her US citizenship status remains unaffected. If the person is required to take certain actions to obtain the foreign citizenship, then it becomes possible to lose US citizenship if the intention to abandon it is demonstrated, according to the State Department. The person must voluntarily apply for the second citizenship and do so with the intention of surrendering US citizenship. This allows dual citizenship in practice if not in name and there is little to no chance of inadvertently losing one’s citizenship by accepting a second. The country where the person resides is considered to have the strongest claim to allegiance.

When traveling, the United States asks that US passport holders who also hold other passports use their US passports when entering and exiting the country and this rule is common among most nations. Conflicts may arise for dual citizens due to the fact that they are expected to obey two sets of laws and issues such as obligatory military service and global taxation must be dealt with. Dual citizens should keep in mind that the US taxes worldwide income and they are required to report all income earned abroad.

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