What is Dual Citizenship or Nationality?
Dual citizenship, also sometimes known as dual nationality, or ‘last act,’ implies that an individual has the privilege and right to hold two passports as a citizen for lawful admission in two nations. With dual citizenship, the individual may enjoy the rights and responsibilities of both countries. However, s/he may be subject to the jurisdiction of the nation for the passport for which s/he last uses for admission. Yet, even citizenship status may ultimately revolve around diplomacy, status, and which nation has physical control of the person.
Not every country allows dual citizenship. And the countries that do allow it sometimes have complex and lengthy processes that must be completed first. Several requirements must be met for every nation that offers dual citizenship. However, it may be worth considering the advantages of becoming a citizen of two countries if you are eligible.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship?
Being a dual citizen of two countries has several benefits and drawbacks.
The advantages of dual citizenship include the following:
- You can freely work and seek employment in at least two countries.
- You can legally reside in two different countries.
- You can vote in free elections in both countries.
- You have access to multiple nations’ social services and other community benefits.
- You may travel freely between the two countries and remain indefinitely in either nation.
With so many advantages, it can be difficult to remember that there are also disadvantages. However, it is always wise to educate yourself on the pros and cons of dual citizenship before applying.
Disadvantages of dual citizenship include:
- There exists the chance that you may be drafted into the military of either or both countries.
- You may have to pay taxes in multiple countries creating the potential of both civil monetary and/or criminal liability unless timely actions are undertaken each year in both nations.
- You will be subject to the laws of both nations, even when laws are in direct conflict with each other.
- You can be subject to political disturbances and civil rights uncertainties in either nation.
We highly encourage you to speak with our legal team to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of applying for citizenship in a second nation.
What Are the Dual Citizenship Requirements in the United States?
Anyone born in the United States of America is a U.S. citizenship except the daughters and sons of blue listed diplomats. A more complicated set of steps must be undertaken by diplomats who must first seek lawful permanent resident status for their U.S. born children.
The US government considers naturalized citizens to be U.S. citizens unless they, like natural born citizens, unless they formally renounce their citizenship. The U.S. will disavow any attempt to assert foreign citizenship abroad, where a U.S. citizen asserts their rights as a citizen in foreign nations. Like the U.S., some nations allow citizens or nationals to apply for foreign passports.
The oath of allegiance to the United States has lines that require you to renounce ties to foreign nations before a Federal tribunal. In addition, the application process also requires them to agree to renunciation at the time of the naturalization or derivative citizenship examination, as well, before a ceremony is scheduled. In some nations, a child may recover their citizenship when they become an adult and no later.
Again, every country has its own strict requirements that must be met. Some who swore loyalty and became citizens of nations deemed to be enemies of the U.S. have alienated themselves thereby losing their right to citizenship.
Additional requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen by naturalization include:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be of good moral character with minimal criminal history.
- Have a green card for at least five years — this may be reduced to either three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen or one year if you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Services.
- Demonstrate continuous physical presence, or the equivalent, in the United States for at least five years – or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. Physical presence outside the U.S. of more than 180 days, ‘may’ disrupt the three or five year periods.
- Have a basic understanding of the English language and written, spoken, and reading forms.
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. civics, geography, history and government.
- Lawfully reside in a state for at least three months prior to applying for citizenship ‘while living in’ that state.
Which Countries Allow Dual Citizenships?
The following countries ‘may’ tolerate dual citizenship depending upon the facts, some of which require advance notice, and formal approval, before filing:
- Antigua and Barbuda.
- Costa Rica.
- Czech Republic.
- New Zealand.
- South Africa.
- South Korea.
- United Kingdom.
- United States.
Schedule an appointment with licensed attorneys who can limit their practices immigration and naturalization in any of these nations before taking further action.
What if Your U.S. Citizenship Application is Denied?
Any small error, omission, or misunderstanding, in the application for United States citizenship — and presumably in applications for citizenship in foreign countries — can result in the entire application being denied. Additionally, the interview and payment of fees must also be successfully resolved. It is the right of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to approve or deny any application as a matter of discretion. The U.S.C.I.S. may indefinitely delay the processing of a citizenship application unless the applicant files a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. District Court makes a decision.
If an application is ‘rejected’ because forms were improperly filled out or incomplete, the filing fees were incorrect, or the credit card did not go through, the USCIS will return the application to the applicant. It is possible to resubmit the application, again. If you miss the biometrics appointment without cause, the application may be denied and the filing fee lost!
There are many ways that the application may be accidentally or lawfully denied due to disqualification. Some applicants are referred to Immigration Court for deportation after denial. To ensure that no further errors are made in the application process, you are strongly recommended to retain legal counsel from knowledgeable immigration lawyers.
Can You Lose Citizenship Due to a Claim to Dual Citizenship? What are Other Consequences?
Although rare, some countries will revoke citizenship to one of their nationals if that former citizen acquired citizenship elsewhere. You can also lose your rights to inheritance depending upon the nation involved. All countries require that you formally renounce citizenship as a condition for naturalization in another nation. That is why it is so important to comprehensively educate yourself on the laws of naturalization and citizenship in the specific countries involved. There can be significant tax consequences, even imprisonment, if the process is ignored or overlooked
As stated, a person may also lose U.S. citizenship if certain criteria are met. These include:
- Attempting to or conspiring to overthrow the United States government.
- Committing an act of treason against the United States.
- Serving in the armed forces of a country that is engaged in more hostilities against the United States.
- Serving as an elected official in another nation.
- The decision to formally renounce their own citizenship.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Immigration Attorney
There are different forms and processes that must be completed to successfully apply for derivative citizenship or naturalization in United States citizenship. You should work with attorneys with experience in matters of United States citizenship and naturalization. Please contact our law firm with locations in both Illinois and Wisconsin for more information.
You may call us at 312-728-4610.