Dual Citizenship

What is dual citizenship/dual nationality?

Dual nationality occurs when a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time.


How does someone become a dual citizen?

Each country decides who becomes a citizen of that country.  Some countries base citizenship on the citizenship of the person’s parents.  Other countries, like the U.S., grant citizenship to any person born within the United States. Other ways a person can become a U.S. citizen are through marriage, naturalization, or birth.


Does the U.S. allow dual citizenship?

The U.S. does not mention dual citizenship in its regulations, but it does not encourage dual citizenship as a matter of policy due to concerns about allegiance and potential conflicts with U.S. law. A person who is automatically granted foreign citizenship (marriage, birth) will not lose his/her U.S. citizenship, however a person who affirmatively applies for foreign citizenship (naturalization) may lose his/her U.S. status. Affirmative application for foreign citizenship means that the person applied voluntarily, under his/her own free choice, and has the intention to give up his/her U.S. citizenship.  Intention can be shown through the person’s statements and/or conduct.


Has dual citizenship always existed?

Throughout much of the world’s history, people could only be a citizen of one country.  In a meeting of the League of Nations in 1930, delegates expressed the idea that “All persons are entitled to possess one nationality, but one nationality only.”  The concerns were that people who maintained citizenship of more than one country would be more likely to engage in treason, espionage, and other subversive acts.  Only within the past century have some countries begun to allow multiple nationalities, although some countries automatically expatriate a person if/when he/she naturalizes in another country.


What are some benefits and problems with dual citizenship?


  • Increases naturalization rates
  • Advances civic participation in society
  • Legitimizes the multicultural identity of some people
  • Do not have to give up part of self



  • Lack of loyalty
  • Fear that national citizenship will be devalued


What countries allow dual citizenship after a person naturalizes in the U.S.?

Always check with the foreign consulate/embassy to confirm whether the particular country allows dual citizenship with the U.S.

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