Becoming a U.S. Citizen: Dual Citizenship

When immigrants become U.S. citizens, they must participate in a ceremony during which they promise to “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which [you] have heretofore been a subject or citizen.” This makes dual citizenship difficult, though not impossible.

Although the renouncing and abjuring must take place, this doesn’t necessarily mean that an immigrant cannot maintain dual citizenship. The U.S. laws regarding dual citizenship are decidedly ambiguous, which makes it a topic of debate. Dual citizenship means that you are a citizen of two countries simultaneously, but it does not mean that you can’t uphold the vows of loyalty that you take when becoming a U.S. citizen.

Whether or not you can make dual citizenship work depends largely upon the laws of the country from which you immigrated. Since the United States does not have any clear laws for or against dual citizenship, the decision lies mostly with the other country of which you would like to remain a citizen.

But why would you want to maintain dual citizenship? First, giving up citizenship in your home country might result in a loss of privileges. If you still own land there, or if you are a part of a paid health service for the elderly or disabled, or if you would like to maintain your right to vote in that country, dual citizenship might be necessary for you.

Since the United States doesn’t necessarily recognize dual citizenship – or forbid it, for that matter – you don’t have to file any extra paperwork or obtain a certificate that acknowledges your dual citizenship. However, your home country might require documentation in order for you to become a U.S. citizen while still maintaining your citizenship there.

Most countries do allow some form of dual citizenship – though it may be limited – so the real task is making sure that you are following the laws of that country for dual citizenship. These laws can change drastically from year to year, so make sure that you have a copy of the most current law.

The best way to go about discovering the laws for dual citizenship is by contacting the embassy for your home country in the United States. If you have access to a Washington D.C. phone book, you can find it there, or you can call D.C.’s directory assistance at 202-555-1212.

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