Dual nationality

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
If you have dual nationality, it simply means that you’re considered a citizen under the laws of two countries at the same time. You may have received dual nationality because you were born in a country different from where your parents are citizens and thus automatically acquired citizenship from the country you were born in and the country in which your parents were born. You may also acquire dual citizenship through marriage or by becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen and keeping the citizenship of the country of your birth. Generally, each country bases its citizenship laws on its own policies. Thus, if you have dual nationality, you owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country and must obey the laws of both nations. Dual nationality may allow you to take advantage of travel, business, and employment opportunities offered in each country. However, you won’t be entitled to special privileges, as each country will treat you as if you were a citizen of that country alone. As a result, you may have legal obligations to both countries regarding taxes, military service, and travel restrictions. To avoid complications, it’s strongly recommended that you check all citizenship laws before choosing to travel to and from either country, as laws of foreign countries regarding U.S. citizens with dual nationality may conflict with U.S. law and result in limiting the U.S. Government’s efforts to assist citizens abroad. Keep in mind that most countries will allow you to renounce or give up your citizenship to claim citizenship in another country. In some cases, a country will automatically revoke your citizenship if you acquire another country’s citizenship, whether you formally renounce it or not. U.S. laws don’t require you to choose one citizenship over another. The only way you may choose to lose your U.S. citizenship is if you voluntarily give it up to claim foreign citizenship in a country that restricts dual nationality. Furthermore, although individuals naturalized as U.S. citizens will be required to renounce any former citizenship ties to other countries during the naturalization process, they may choose later to regain citizenship in the country of their origin without losing their U.S. citizenship status.

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