How to Get Dual Citizenship

Updated on April 10, 2024

Many people dream of holding dual citizenship status because of many of the benefits it offers. Dual citizenship of the USA is even more appealing as the country is one of the most desirable destinations to live and conduct business.

Just like any other immigration-related process, there are eligibility criteria you need to meet to become a US dual citizen. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about dual citizenship in the US.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship refers to the status of an individual who holds two citizenships of two different countries simultaneously. So he or she might be an American citizen and a British citizen at the same time. Each country has different terms when it comes to dual citizenship, and the US has its own.

According to Immigration and Nationality Act, under Section 101(a)(22), the term “a national of the United States” is defined as:

  • (A) a citizen of the United States
  • (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States

Therefore, the United States recognizes dual citizens but does not mention anything as such. Since they are recognized by both countries as their citizens, they get most, if not all, the benefits an average citizen would get. Depending on what basis you acquired the second citizenship, you might be eligible for even more benefits.

Not all countries, however, allow dual citizenship. So once you accept American citizenship, you no longer remain a citizen of the other country and your citizenship will be considered abandoned.

Can Immigrants Get Dual Citizenship In The US?

As per the definition mentioned in the Immigration and Nationality Act, you need to be either a citizen or owe permanent allegiance to the United States. Therefore, only those immigrants who become naturalized or owe allegiance will be eligible for dual citizenship.

Rights and Responsibilities of Dual Citizens in the US

Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the countries and must maintain integrity for both. They must obey the laws of each country since both of them have the right to enforce their respective laws at any point in time. Dual nationals must ensure the laws are not in direct conflict with each other which could otherwise jeopardize their citizenship status. As a dual citizen of the United States, the following will be your right:

Work Anywhere In The US Without Work Permit

You’re free to work anywhere in the United States without the need for a work permit, something all immigrants must obtain. But exceptions persist and you might be ineligible for certain jobs, which will require security clearance. Most of these types of jobs are in the military or jobs with national security interests.

Travel Abroad Without Any Restrictions

Unlike green card holders and conditional residents, you can stay outside of the US for as long as you want. There is no risk of losing your US citizenship status unless you get involved in any conflicting endeavors. You won’t be requiring any re-entry permits either.

Get Green Cards For Your Family

You can apply for green cards for your family members. They should be your direct relatives like spouse, parents, adult children, siblings, and cousins.

Have Voting Powers

You’d be able to cast your vote in the US election just like an average citizen would.

Attend School And Colleges

After you’ve been granted US citizenship, you can enroll yourself for both full-time and part-time courses in any recognized educational institution. You won’t have to incur international student fees either.

Get Access To Public Benefits

Finally, you’ll be able to access various federal and state-level benefits that are meant for the general public. You just need to meet the eligibility requirements and can apply for the same.

Responsibilities Of A Dual Citizen Of US

As a dual citizen, you’ll be obliged to meet certain responsibilities. Some of the main ones include:

Pay US Taxes For The Rest Of Your Life

Once you take up US citizenship, you must file your income tax returns with the IRS. If necessary and unless exempted, you’ll be paying them under US tax laws. This is inclusive of the income you earn outside of the United States. In some cases, you’ll be obliged to pay taxes to both the countries if the United States doesn’t have any agreements with the other country that would avoid double taxation.

Disclose Any Interaction With Law Enforcement Agencies

From time to time, you’ll be required to submit records of every interaction you’ve had with law enforcement agencies outside of the US. As you might know, USCIS is very strict when it comes to scrutinizing every immigrant’s background thoroughly.

You Must Be Open To Serve In The Military If Required

The US law requires every male between the age 18 and 26 who has lived in the United States or is a green card recipient to register for the Selective Service System. The purpose is that you can be called to serve in the military in case of war or a similar situation.

You Must Serve On A Jury When Summoned

As you might know, Jury Duty is mandatory for all US citizens. Once you become an American citizen, you must serve on a jury when summoned. You may never serve as a jury unless the panelist selects you as a jury for a legal court proceeding.

How To Get Dual Citizenship

To get a dual citizenship, there is no particular application form or set of procedures available. To initiate the process, you must see if your native country allows its citizens to hold dual citizenship. If not, then you may not become a dual citizenship of the US unless you renounce your current citizenship.

If it does, then you need to meet all the naturalization requirements. If you qualify through a parent, then you can skip some of these requirements. The only form you’d be asked to submit is the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization to the USCIS for consideration.

The immigration agency will then review and process your application and call you for interviews. Once satisfied, you can take the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance and then become a US citizen.

How Long Does The Dual Citizenship Process Take?

After you’ve filed the N-400, then you need to wait quite some time before you hear back from the USCIS. Then interviews will be scheduled and background verification checks will be conducted. You can expect all of these to go at least 1.6 years, extending up to 2 years. This depends on many factors including the ties the US has with that country, type of your application, the field officer handling your case, and pending cases at that point in time.

When To Apply For Dual Citizenship

You can apply for dual citizenship at any time of the year. You first need to meet the naturalization requirements. But a time frame of 3-5 years after receiving a green card is probably the right time to apply for dual citizenship.

Conclusion

While there is not much paperwork involved, it is recommended that you take precautions and check with requirements (since they keep on changing from time to time). In case of any confusion, we advise you to get in touch with an immigration attorney in your area.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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