A Guide to Dual Citizenship for Immigrants
When you come to the United States from another country, you have many options for how you can immigrate. You may choose to stay only for a short while before returning home. You could seek options to stay here legally for an extended time, or you can become a citizen. For many immigrants, becoming a U.S. citizen is a difficult choice because they do not wish to lose their citizenship in their home country. Thus, they may look into dual citizenship options.
If you want to explore dual citizenship, you should be aware that it can be complex. Like anything else within the U.S. immigration system, it is often difficult to seek out information and get clear answers without the assistance of a qualified immigration law attorney.
What Is Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship or dual nationality is when you claim rights as a legal citizen in two different countries. Not every country allows you to do so. In some situations, you will have to choose in which country you wish to establish citizenship. However, many countries do offer this option.
As a dual citizen, you gain the rights of a legal citizen in each country. In the U.S., that means you will have the right to vote, among other things. You also have legal obligations to each country, such as paying taxes.
Does the U.S. Allow Dual Citizenship?
There is no formal recognition of dual citizenship in the United States. You have the right to seek citizenship in another country without any impact on your U.S. citizenship. You can also become a U.S. citizen even if you are a citizen of another nation.
Do note, though, some countries that are not allies of the U.S. may ban dual citizenship with the U.S. Also, being a citizen of such a country and then becoming a U.S. citizen may create a difficult situation as you try to meet obligations and requirements as a citizen of the two nations.
Your citizenship in another country cannot infringe on the duties you hold in this country as a naturalized citizen through birth or the pledge you make when voluntarily taking on U.S. citizenship.
How Does a Person Acquire Dual Citizenship?
You have several ways that you can become a dual citizen in the U.S. by birth or through choice.
If you are born outside of the U.S., you will hold dual citizenship if one of your parents is a citizen of another country and one is a citizen of the U.S. Alternatively, you could gain it if you are born in the U.S., but your parents are immigrants with citizenship in another country. Dual citizenship by birth is automatic.
You can also become a dual citizen if you are a citizen of another country and you become a U.S. citizen. There is no formal process as long as your country of origin allows for dual citizenship. In some cases, you may have to return to the other country and regain your citizenship after becoming a U.S. citizen if the other country allows you to do so.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship is a duty in many ways because you have loyalties to two countries. As a citizen of each country, you have the ability to travel back and forth freely. There aren’t restrictions on how long you can stay. You also don’t have the requirement to secure further documents to legally enter the country. You can even buy property in each country.
Certain rights are obtained in each country, such as the ability to vote. You gain access to social programs, and you can often hold political offices.
Dual citizenship makes it easier to work in either country. You also can attend school without hassle as well without having to pay higher rates for non-citizens.
Of course, this duty also comes with some disadvantages. You will face taxation in both countries and must follow the laws of both countries as well. You may have trouble getting security clearance or face issues with military service obligations.
Why Might I Need Legal Assistance?
If you choose to exercise your rights as a dual citizen or you want to look into establishing dual citizenship, an attorney can assist you with figuring out the legal aspects of the situation. He or she can explain the laws in each country and the potential issues you may have. Your attorney also can ensure that you understand the responsibilities you will have to each country and explain details, such as the proper use of passports.
Having a legal advocate is also important if you face a loss of citizenship either in the U.S. or another country due to your dual citizenship status. There are several ways you could lose your U.S. citizenship:
- Committing or conspiring to commit an act of treason against the government
- Renouncing your citizenship officially
- Serving in the military of another country
These situations require specific circumstances, which may be confusing and unclear. Your lawyer can explain the laws and assist you with trying to maintain your dual citizenship or make decisions about what you should do.
You may also face the loss of citizenship in a country when you become a U.S. citizen. Your attorney can explain when this may happen and the options you have to prevent it from happening or remedying it.
Above all else, your lawyer is a source of a lot of information and can serve as your advocate. He or she is someone who is on your side and who can look out for your best interests. Your attorney will guide you and help you to be sure that you are properly meeting all your obligations in both countries while also helping you to maintain your dual citizenship status.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
If you are considering dual citizenship, have questions about it or need assistance with your existing dual citizenship, then it is a good idea to secure legal counsel. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!