Dual Citizenship in the USA: Everything You Need to Know
What is Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship – formally known as dual nationality – means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time.
In the United States, there’s no law that mentions dual nationality, and its citizens are not required to choose just one nationality. But what about other countries? Do all countries allow dual citizenship, and what are the rules about calling two nations “home”?
This guide explains dual citizenship in the U.S. and other countries, as well as your rights and responsibilities if you decide to keep citizenship in your home country when you obtain it in the United States.
Guide to Dual Citizenship in the USA
As a U.S. citizen, you’re not prohibited from holding citizenship in another country. If you’re a naturalized citizen, there’s no requirement for you to renounce your citizenship from your home country, either – at least, not as far as the United States is concerned. Some countries forbid their citizens from holding dual citizenship. If your home country forbids dual citizenship, you’ll most likely be forced to withdraw your citizenship there before you can accept U.S. citizenship. That means you’re giving up your rights and responsibilities there, and you’re turning in your passport.
What Countries Allow Dual Citizenship?
If you’re pursuing United States citizenship, you need to be aware that your home country may not allow you to keep your citizenship once you attain it in the United States. That means you will lose your passport from your home country while gaining an American passport; you could lose your right to vote in your home country; and you may no longer qualify for national programs in your home country, such as healthcare. You need to know that if you withdraw your citizenship in your original country, you’ll have to obtain a visa (or other, similar authorization) to visit, as well. You may lose other rights, depending on your country of origin’s requirements. Your home country’s embassy or consulate can help you understand which rights and responsibilities you’ll be required to give up if you withdraw your citizenship.
If you’re not sure whether your home country allows dual citizenship, consult the table below and speak to a Dallas or Houston immigration attorney about your situation. If your country is not represented here, your attorney can point you in the right direction.
|Country of Origin||Allows Dual U.S. Citizenship?||Additional Information|
|Albania||Yes||In most cases, you may hold dual citizenship as a citizen of Albania.|
|Australia||Yes||Australia allows dual citizenship – and, in fact, the Australian government says that you can hold citizenship in as many countries as you’d like.|
|Bahamas||No||You cannot hold dual citizenship in the Bahamas.|
|Barbados||Yes||Barbados’ government often encourages foreigners to acquire citizenship and allows its nationals to do the same.|
|Bangladesh||Yes||Generally, you cannot lose citizenship in Bangladesh unless you are a naturalized citizen who has earned a long-term prison sentence or incurred a criminal fine.|
|Belgium||Yes||Belgium has allowed its citizens to hold dual nationality since 2008.|
|Bulgaria||Yes||Ethnic Bulgarians may maintain citizenship in multiple countries, but those who choose Bulgarian citizenship must renounce citizenship from their home countries.|
|Canada||Yes||Canadian citizens are encouraged to hold dual nationality, particularly with the United States.|
|Chile||Yes||In most cases, Chile allows dual citizenship.|
|China||No||A Chinese national will automatically lose Chinese citizenship upon gaining citizenship in another country. You may also be barred from receiving a Chinese visa or even entering the country at all.|
|Costa Rica||Yes||All Costa Rican citizens may hold dual nationality.|
|Croatia||Yes||Ethnic Croatians who obtained citizenship through birth or descent through at least one parent may hold dual nationality, but those who are naturalized Croatians must renounce all other citizenships.|
|Cyprus||Yes||Cyprus does not restrict citizens from holding dual nationality.|
|Czech Republic||Yes||The Czech Republic has allowed multiple nationalities since 2014.|
|Denmark||Yes||Denmark has allowed its citizens to hold dual citizenship since 2015.|
|Egypt||Yes||Egypt allows citizens to hold dual nationality, but citizens must inform the Egyptian government of their intent to maintain Egyptian citizenship within a year of obtaining foreign citizenship or risk losing their nationality.|
|Finland||Yes||Finland has allowed all of its citizens to hold dual citizenship since 2003.|
|France||Yes||France is a bastion of dual nationality, where citizens have been allowed to hold two or more citizenships for generations.|
|Germany||Yes||Germany tends to discourage dual citizenship, but the law does not forbid it – and German citizens do not have to renounce a foreign citizenship to hold citizenship in Germany.|
|Greece||Yes||Greek citizens are permitted to maintain dual citizenship unless they ask to renounce Greek citizenship after serving in the military.|
|Haiti||No||If a Haitian citizen acquires citizenship in another country, he or she automatically loses Haitian citizenship.|
|Hungary||Yes||You may hold dual citizenship in Hungary and another country.|
|Iceland||Yes||Iceland has let its citizens hold dual nationality since 2003.|
|Indonesia||No||Indonesians can be dual citizens until the age of 18, but at that time, they must choose a nationality.|
|Ireland||Yes||Ireland allows dual citizenship in all cases.|
|Israel||Yes||Israel allows dual citizenship and has a strong program called the Law of Return to enable Jewish people to obtain Israeli citizenship.|
|Italy||Yes||Italy does not require you to renounce your citizenship if you gain citizenship in another country.|
|Jamaica||Yes||You are permitted to hold dual citizenship if you’re a Jamaican citizen.|
|Japan||No||Japanese dual nationals must choose one nationality between the ages of 20 and 22, and failure to do so can result in the loss of Japanese citizenship.|
|Kosovo||Yes||Kosovo recognizes dual and triple citizenship, as many Kosovars already hold Serbian passports as a matter of course.|
|Kuwait||No||There are no exceptions to Kuwait’s dual citizenship prohibition – and if a parent loses his or her citizenship, the children do, as well.|
|Laos||No||You may not hold dual citizenship in Laos.|
|Latvia||Yes||Latvian citizens may hold other nationalities.|
|Malawi||No||You cannot hold dual citizenship in Malawi if you’re over the age of 21.|
|Malta||Yes||Malta allows dual citizenship.|
|Mexico||Yes||Mexico allows its citizens to hold dual nationality but requires Mexican citizens to exit and enter the country on a Mexican passport.|
|Myanmar||No||Dual citizenship is prohibited in Myanmar.|
|Nepal||No||There are no exceptions to Nepal’s anti-dual-citizenship stance.|
|The Netherlands||Yes and No||If a Dutch national over the age of 18 willingly obtains citizenship or naturalization from another country, he or she will lose Dutch citizenship. However, if you’re a citizen of another country and marry a Dutch national or a refugee, you may hold dual citizenship.|
|Nigeria||Yes||For the most part, Nigerians may hold dual citizenship.|
|Pakistan||Yes||The Pakistani government recognizes dual nationality for most people under most circumstances. However, if you hold dual citizenship in Pakistan, you lose some of your voting rights, you cannot serve in the military, and you cannot hold some public offices or civil servant jobs.|
|Panama||No||The Panamanian government, by law, forbids dual citizenship.|
|Peru||Yes||Peru allows citizens of other Latin countries to maintain dual citizenship and doesn’t explicitly require people to renounce their Peruvian citizenship upon gaining citizenship in another country.|
|Philippines||Yes||Filipinos who obtain citizenship in the U.S. or another country do not automatically lose citizenship in the Philippines.|
|Portugal||Yes||Portugal allows dual citizenship.|
|Romania||Yes||Romanian citizens do not automatically lose citizenship upon gaining it in another country.|
|Saudi Arabia||No||You may not hold dual citizenship in Saudi Arabia – you give up your Saudi Arabian citizenship when you accept it in another country.|
|Serbia||Yes||Serbian citizens can maintain dual citizenship.|
|Singapore||No||People may remain dual citizens until age 21; within 12 months of a Singaporean’s 21st birthday, he or she must take the Oath of Allegiance and Loyalty to Singapore and renounce foreign citizenship or lose Singaporean citizenship.|
|Slovenia||Yes||Native Slovenians, in most cases, are permitted to hold dual citizenship – but it’s typically a one-way street. Naturalized citizens of Slovenia must usually renounce their original citizenship.|
|South Africa||Yes||South Africa has allowed dual citizenship since 2004, but it requires South Africans to enter and leave the country with a South African passport.|
|South Korea||Yes||You do not lose South Korean citizenship when you gain citizenship in another country.|
|Spain||Yes||Spain allows dual nationality, but you must inform the Spanish government within three years of obtaining citizenship in another country.|
|Sweden||Yes||Sweden has allowed dual citizenship since 2001.|
|Switzerland||Yes||Swiss citizens are allowed to hold dual citizenship. In fact, as many as 60 percent of Swiss citizens living abroad hold two nationalities.|
|Syria||Yes||Typically, Syria allows its citizens to hold dual citizenship.|
|Thailand||No||You may not hold Thai citizenship and citizenship from another country simultaneously.|
|Turkey||Yes||Turkey permits dual citizenship.|
|United Kingdom||Yes||The UK has allowed dual citizenship since 1948. However, people who are citizens of British Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla, may not be permitted to hold a British passport if they are dual citizens.|
|Vietnam||No||Vietnamese citizens may not retain citizenship in Vietnam if they acquire citizenship in another country.|
What About the U.S Oath Of Allegiance?
The United States’ Oath of Allegiance requires you to say that you “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen,” but that doesn’t explicitly address dual citizenship in the USA. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kawakita v. United States that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both.”
Rights and Responsibilities for Those With Dual Citizenship in the USA
As a U.S. citizen, you’ll acquire certain rights and responsibilities. They may conflict with the rights and responsibilities you hold in your home country, as well. Here’s a quick run-down.
|Rights of U.S. Citizens||Responsibilities of U.S. Citizens|
|Freedom to express yourself||To support and defend the U.S. Constitution|
|Freedom to worship how, when and where you want||Stay informed of the issues affecting your community|
|Right to a prompt and fair trial by jury||Participate in the democratic process|
|Right to vote in elections for public officials||Respect and obey federal, state and local laws|
|Right to run for elected office||Respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others|
|Freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness||Participate in your local community|
|Pay income and other taxes honestly, on time|
|Serve on a jury when called upon|
|Defend the country if the need arises|
Ways to Acquire Dual Nationality
You may already be a national of the United States and another country, even if you don’t know it, and even if you don’t accept the nationality or have a passport from that country. Sometimes people are dual nationals when they’re:
- Born in the United States to a parent who holds nationality in a country other than the U.S., based on that country’s citizenship laws
- Born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent
- Naturalizing in the U.S. without renouncing your citizenship in the other country
If you weren’t born or naturalized in one of these ways, you’ll have to apply for citizenship in the country where you want to acquire it. Every country has different rules and laws, but if you’re interested in gaining U.S. citizenship, you should speak to a Texas immigration attorney for help. Your immigration attorney can help you fill out and file the appropriate paperwork, answer your questions, and follow your petition through until you’re a naturalized U.S. citizen.
What Laws Do You Follow if You Have Dual Citizenship?
You’re required to follow the laws of both your countries if you hold dual citizenship. That means you may be placed in a situation where your obligations to one country conflict with the laws of the other country.
What About Consular Protection?
Maintaining dual citizenship in the United States and another country can make things complicated – such as when you want consular protection. Consular protection is the term that refers to help a country provides to its citizens who are living or traveling abroad. That help can range from finding copies of your travel documents or a lost passport to providing temporary refuge when you’re in danger.
It may be difficult for the United States to help you if you need consular protection when you’re a dual citizen – and that’s especially true if you’re in your home country. The U.S. may not be able to shield you or give you the physical protection you need if you’re also a citizen of the nation you’re in.
What Passport Do You Use if You Have Dual Citizenship?
As a dual national, you may be required to use your original country’s passport when you’re entering or leaving it. United States law allows for this (it doesn’t say anything against it), so you should check with your original country when you have planned travel. It doesn’t generally matter which passport you use to enter other, unrelated countries – though you may prefer to use one passport over the other for personal reasons. Additionally, some countries that allow travelers with U.S. passports sometimes don’t allow travelers using passports from other countries, and vice-versa; in a case such as that, you’d want to use the passport that enables you to enter the country you want to enter.
What is the U.S. Naturalization Timeline Like?
In order to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you must first become a lawful permanent resident. Usually, you must remain a lawful permanent resident for three to five years.
Lawful permanent residents – commonly called green card holders – can apply for naturalization as soon as they have met the requirements. From that time, it can take a little over a year (and longer, in some cases) to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About Dual Citizenship in the United States?
If you’re considering becoming a U.S. citizen, we can help. Call our office now to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney – we’ll answer your questions and give you the advice you need.