Friday, January 16, 2009

Does the US allow dual citizenship?

Many people wonder whether the US allows dual citizenship. Specifically, people often ask if they can retain their original, non-US, citizenship and still become US citizens. The short answer is "yes", if the other country allows dual citizenship. For instance, I have dual US and Irish citizenship, since I was born and raised in Ireland and am a naturalized US citizen. Based on the US State Department regulation on dual citizenship, the US Supreme Court stated that dual citizenship is a "status long recognized in the law” and that
a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other.
Kawakita v. U.S., 343 U.S. 717 (1952).

The US does not encourage or favor dual citizenship. As the State Department states on their website:
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 citizen s abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance.
Nevertheless, under US law, it is perfectly legal to hold US and another citizenship.

For information on which countries allow dual citizenship, please check local country laws. Some information is in
this document, however the document is from 2001 so should not be exclusively relied upon.

1 comment:

  1. To add up, these are some reasons to have dual citizenship in certain countries:

    # You married a citizen of that country (though please note that the practice of granting immediate, automatic citizenship to a foreign spouse is far less prevalent today than it was decades ago).

    # You (or one or both of your parents) obtained that country's citizenship by going through a legal process of naturalization.