Can You Have Dual Citizenship in the U.S.?

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 25, 2022

A citizen is someone who has the right to all the services and protection of a national government. Generally, people are citizens of the country they were born in. It is also possible to be a citizen of more than one country. However, not all countries allow this. Read on to learn can you have dual citizenship in the U.S.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship is when you have all the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in two different countries. Citizenship is not the same as being a U.S. national. There is an important difference between U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals. The most obvious sign of dual citizenship is having passports issued by different governments. 

Can You Have Dual Citizenship in the U.S.?

Yes. Dual citizenship is allowed under U.S. federal law. However, some other countries do not allow it. You must find out if your original country of citizenship recognizes dual citizenship to understand how many citizenships you can have. Some governments may automatically revoke your citizenship if you receive U.S. citizen status.

If you are a citizen of one of these countries, consult an immigration lawyer before you apply for U.S. dual citizenship. The lawyer will explain can you have dual citizenship in the U.S. without getting into legal problems in your country of origin.

How to get dual citizenship in the United States

The process of getting dual citizenship in the United States can be a bit tricky. However, you can follow the instructions laid out below to help guide you through the process.

  1. Check if your country of origin allows dual citizenship (contact an embassy or consulate).
  2. If yes, check if you meet the naturalization requirements
    • Age >18 years
    • Green card holder, continuously living in the U.S. for 3-5 years
    • Residency in the district where you will apply
    • ‘Good moral character’
    • Basic written and spoken English
    • Knowledge of U.S. history and government.
  3. Submit an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and pay the processing fee
  4. Attend your naturalization interview
  5. Complete the Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony questionnaire (Form N-445)
  6. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

Rights and Responsibilities of Dual Citizens

All citizens of a country have rights that are protected by the government. Mainly there are five rights of U.S. citizens. They also have responsibilities that come with those rights. The following two subsections outline some of the most important rights and responsibilities you will have as a U.S. dual citizen.

Rights of Dual Citizens in the United States

The list below outlines a few of the rights you will have as a dual U.S. citizen:

  • Right to work: As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to work in any U.S. state without a work visa or permit. However, keep in mind that you may struggle to get certain kinds of employment within the federal government that requires security clearance – especially if your country of origin has interests that conflict with those of the United States.
  • Unrestricted travel: You can leave and re-enter the country as many times as you wish using your U.S. passport. Unlike a green card holder, if you are outside the U.S. for more than a year, you will not have to apply for a re-entry permit.
  • Green card: As a dual U.S. citizen, you can sponsor applications for permanent residence (green cards) for members of your family.
  • Voting: In the United States, only citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections (such as the presidential election). As a dual U.S. citizen, you have the right to cast your vote in federal elections as well as state and local elections.
  • Education: Citizenship gives you the right to attend any U.S. school without a student visa, and without paying international student tuition rates.
  • Public benefits: Among the services that the U.S. government provides to citizens are public benefits such as tuition assistance and many others. As a citizen, you have the right to receive these services if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Obligations of Dual Citizens in the United States

Along with all of the rights you will get as a U.S. dual citizen, there are some important responsibilities that you will have. Some key responsibilities of U.S. citizens are outlined in the list below:

  • Tax: Every citizen must pay their taxes. Taxes are used by the government to fund the various services that it provides to citizens.
  • Disclosure: The dual citizenship application process includes an evaluation of any encounters you may have had with law enforcement in your country of origin and the U.S. It is your responsibility to provide accurate information if you have a criminal record.
  • Military draft: In the United States, all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 are required to serve in the armed forces if called upon to do so in a time of war. That means if you fall into this category, you would be required to obey if the government ever ordered you to serve in the military during a war.
  • Jury duty: The United States criminal justice system relies on groups of ordinary citizens—juries—to decide on the outcome of certain kinds of criminal trials. The members of a jury are selected by the lawyers who will be in the trial. If you are summoned to court you may not necessarily be selected to serve on a jury, but you are required to be present for jury selection. If you are selected, you are required to serve.

How Long is the Dual Citizenship Process

Applying for dual citizenship in the U.S. is a lengthy process. Although filling in the application forms is fast, the processing can take up to 1.6 years, depending on which USCIS field office is handling your application.

This period is in addition to the mandatory 3-5 year period in which you must have been continuously living in the United States as a permanent resident (green card holder).

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Final Thoughts 

The answer to whether you can have dual citizenship in the U.S. depends partly on your country of origin. The U.S. government allows dual citizenship, but it is important to understand whether your home country also allows it before applying for U.S. dual citizenship. After submitting your application you may have to wait up to 1.6 years.

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