The Concept of Dual Citizenship


Dual citizenship simply means a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Every country has its own laws for citizenship based on its own policy. Persons may acquire dual nationality by operation of different laws in countries rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to US citizen parents can become both a US citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

As a US citizen, you can acquire foreign citizenship through marriage, or if you are naturalized as a US citizen, you may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth. The immigration law in US does not mention dual citizenship or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Additionally, if you are automatically granted another citizenship, you do not risk losing your US citizenship. However, if you acquire a foreign citizenship by applying for it, you may lose your US citizenship. In order to lose/renounce your US citizenship, per the law, you have to apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily with the intention to give up US citizenship.

The US government recognizes that the concept of dual citizenship does exist but does not encourage it as a policy due to the problems that may rise. Claims of other countries on dual citizenship may conflict with US law. It may also limit US government efforts to assist citizens abroad. Although a naturalizing citizen has to undertake an oath renouncing previous allegiances to other countries, the oath has never been enforced for the actual termination of original citizenship.

The country where you, as a dual national are located generally has a stronger claim to your allegiance than that of the other country. Having said so, dual nationals do owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. You have to obey the laws of both countries. Both the countries have the right to enforce its laws, particularly if you are likely to later travel there. Most US citizens, including dual nationals, are required to use a US passport to enter and leave the United States. You may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country.

Off late, there is a significant increase in the number of persons who maintain their US citizenship in some other country. Most countries allow a person to renounce/ lose citizenship. The process on how to renounce a foreign citizenship can be obtained from the foreign country’s embassy and consulates in the US. US citizens can renounce their US citizenship in the proper form at US embassies and consulates overseas.

It is important to note that not all countries allow multiple citizenship. If you are from a country that allows multiple citizenship with the US and similarly the other way round, you can apply for US citizenship.

Being a citizen of another country and if you wish to go ahead with the dual citizenship process with the US, you have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.

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13 thoughts on “The Concept of Dual Citizenship

  1. Hi Samuel, is Peter Roth from Peter-roth blogspot. Want to make a pro bono consultation? I am helping a nice couple who won the DV2012 lottery, they are very worried since the guy participated in the DV using Spain as the elegibility country ( he holds Spanish Passport, his father is also Spaniard by birth) but he was born in Venezuela, so he also holds a Venezuelan passport, both countries are elegible for participating in the DV Lottery. Do you foresee any problems for them at the interview because of his dual citizenship and because he participated using Spain ( a country he is citizen of, by naturalization) instead of Venezuela (a country he is citizen of, by birth) , or it doesn not matter because both countries are eligible? Look forward to your comments, regards, Peter Roth

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    • I don’t think dual citizenship will have major impact during interview. Maybe ask him to provide valid reason why did he applied from Spain in case if the interviewer asking him during interview.

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      • Thanks Samuel, thats definitevelly what I believed, but there are so many gray areas that I though it was better to recofirm. Thanks again for your time and I’ll make sure they get the message on having a valid reason why he used Spain when applying

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  2. Hi Samuel, I was wandering if I can apply for the green card lottery as a German citizen. I hold dual citizenship ( Iranian and German). I was born in Iran but neglected to revalidate that passport. As there is a better chance to win the green card as a German citizen I would like to do that- is that allowed?

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    • But you work with German and you are citizen of Germany so you can apply from your country. Make sure to provide valid reason while in interview for the reason to shift to Germany.

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  3. I am very confused about being eligible or not to enter Visa Lottery. I was born in Mexico (country not eligible) but also I have citizenship from Spain (which is eligible) and also I hold a Spanish passport. Am I eligible for the Green Card Lottery? Let me know please, info on the web is very confusing.

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  4. Thanks for your answer, After sending my first question I found this oficial info from State Department, where they make emphasis to the term “Nativity”, I would like your opinion on this, I reproduce the statement from State Dept,

    Claim nativity in an eligible country
    To enter the lottery, the applicant must be born in an eligible country. Citizens of almost every country in the world are eligible, except citizens of these countries listed below.

    If you were born in an ineligible country, you may still qualify if:

    Your spouse (legally married husband or wife) was born in an eligible country; or
    Both parents were born in an eligible country. It doesn’t have to be the same country.

    If you qualify through your parent’s or spouse’s country of birth, you should enter your country of birth in the “Place of Birth” field, and your parent/spouse country of birth in the “Native Country” field.

    So I was born in a non eligible country (Mexico), and it seem it does not matter I have the Spanish citizen since I was not originally born there.

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