Do you want to enjoy the benefits of being a citizen of two countries simultaneously? If so, you might be interested in getting dual citizenship in the United States.
Dual citizenship means you are legally recognized as a citizen of two countries simultaneously. This can give you advantages such as travelling freely between nations, voting in elections, accessing social services and benefits in both countries, and more.
However, getting dual citizenship is not always easy or possible. Depending on your country of origin, you might have to renounce your first citizenship before applying for a second one. Some countries do not allow dual citizenship, while others have strict rules and conditions.
Therefore, before you apply for U.S. citizenship as your second citizenship status, it’s crucial to contact the embassy or consulate of your country of origin to find out whether that country allows dual citizenship in the first place2. You should also consult an immigration lawyer or expert if you have any doubts or questions about your situation.
If your country of origin allows dual citizenship with the United States, then you can apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization1. Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national becomes a U.S. citizen after meeting certain requirements3.
This article will guide you through the requirements, steps, benefits, and drawbacks of getting U.S. dual citizenship through naturalization.
What is Dual Citizenship?
In simplest terms, dual citizenship refers to simultaneously holding citizenship in two different countries. Having dual citizenship allows an individual to enjoy the rights and benefits of both countries, including the right to vote, work, study, and travel freely.
Benefits and Drawbacks of U.S. Dual Citizenship
Getting U.S. dual citizenship can have many benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of before applying.
Some of the benefits are:
- Travel convenience: You can use either passport when travelling between countries or to destinations with different visa requirements for each country. You can also avoid long lines at customs or immigration checkpoints by using the passport of the country you are entering or leaving.
- Voting rights: You can vote in both countries’ elections and have a say in their political affairs. You can also run for office in either country unless it requires exclusive citizenship.
- Access to social benefits: You can enjoy the social services and benefits of both countries, such as health care, education, retirement, etc. You can also transfer your pension or social security payments between countries if they have a bilateral agreement.
- Cultural diversity: You can experience and appreciate both countries’ cultures, languages, and traditions. You can also maintain ties with your family and friends in both countries and pass on your heritage to your children.
Some of the drawbacks are:
- Tax obligations: Depending on their tax laws and treaties, you may have to file and pay taxes in both countries. The United States taxes its citizens on their worldwide income regardless of where they live or earn it. Therefore, you may face double taxation or complex tax reporting requirements if you have dual citizenship with another country.
- Security clearance issues: You may need help obtaining or maintaining a security clearance for certain jobs or positions that involve national security or sensitive information. Having dual citizenship may raise questions about your loyalty or allegiance to the United States. You may also be subject to foreign influence or coercion by the other country’s government or agents.
- Potential conflicts of interest: You may encounter situations where the interests or policies of both countries clash or contradict each other. For example, you may have to choose which country to support in a war or a diplomatic dispute. Or you may have to abide by different laws or regulations that affect your rights or obligations in either country.
Requirements for U.S. Citizenship in 2023
To become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, you must meet specific eligibility criteria based on your green card status or marriage to a U.S. citizen.
If you are a green card holder (permanent resident), you must:
- Have had a green card for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization)
- Have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least half of that time (or half of that time if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Have lived in the state or district where you file your application for at least three months before filing
- Be able to read, write, speak, and understand basic English (unless exempt due to age or disability)
- Have good moral character and respect for the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen employed by certain organizations abroad (such as government agencies or international organizations), you may qualify for expedited naturalization without meeting some requirements.
In addition to these criteria, you also need certain documents when applying for naturalization, such as:
- Your green card
- Your birth certificate
- Your passport
- Your marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Evidence of your spouse’s employment abroad (if applicable)
- Proof of any name changes (if applicable)
- Two passport-style photos You may also need other documents depending on your specific circumstances such as tax returns, criminal records, divorce decrees, etc.
You also need to pay certain fees for the naturalization process. The total cost is $725, which includes $640 for Form N-400 and $85 for biometrics. You can pay the fees online or by mail with a money order or check. Military applicants are exempt from naturalization fees.
Requirements for U.S. Dual Citizenship
There are several ways to obtain U.S. dual citizenship in 2023, including:
- Birthright Citizenship: If you were born on U.S. soil, you are automatically a U.S. citizen, regardless of your parents’ citizenship.
- Citizenship through Parents: If one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens, you may be eligible for U.S. citizenship, even if you were not born on U.S. soil.
- Marriage to a U.S. Citizen: If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for U.S. citizenship after a while.
- Military Service: If you serve in the U.S. military, you may be eligible for U.S. citizenship.
- Naturalization: If you are not eligible for U.S. citizenship through any of the above options, you may be able to obtain U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process.
Steps for U.S. Citizenship Application
Once you have met the requirements and gathered the documents and fees, you can apply for U.S. citizenship. Here are the main steps you need to follow:
- Fill out Form N-400 online or by mail: This is the official application form for naturalization that asks you about your personal information, background, eligibility, and attachments. You can fill it out online through your USCIS account or download it from the USCIS website and mail it to the appropriate address.
- Submit your biometrics and attend an interview: After USCIS receives your application, they will schedule you for a biometrics appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). You will provide your fingerprints, photograph, and signature for identity verification and background checks there. You will also receive a notice for an interview at a local USCIS office where an officer will review your application and ask you questions about your eligibility and attachment to the United States.
- Take the naturalization test and oath of allegiance: During your interview, you will also have to take a naturalization test consisting of English and civics. The English test measures your ability to read, write, speak, and understand basic English. The civics test measures your knowledge of U.S. history and government. You can find study materials and practice tests on the USCIS website. If you pass both tests, you will be scheduled for a naturalization ceremony where you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States and receive your naturalization certificate.
Naturalization Process for U.S. Dual Citizenship
The naturalization process involves several steps, including:
Meeting Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for naturalization, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen).
- Demonstrate good moral character.
Filing an Application
Once you meet the eligibility requirements, you must apply for naturalization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After filing your application, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment, where your fingerprints, photo, and signature will be taken.
Interview and Exam
You will then be scheduled for an interview and exam, where you will be asked questions about your background, U.S. history, and English proficiency.
Oath of Allegiance
If you pass the interview and exam, you will be scheduled to take the Oath of Allegiance, which officially makes you a U.S. citizen.
Getting U.S. dual citizenship can be rewarding and beneficial for many people who want to enjoy the best of both worlds. However, it also comes with some challenges and responsibilities that you should consider carefully before applying.
If you are eligible and interested in becoming a U.S. citizen while keeping your original citizenship status, you should follow these steps:
- Check if your country of origin allows dual citizenship with the United States
- Meet the requirements for U.S. citizenship based on your green card status or marriage to a U.S. citizen
- Gather the necessary documents and fees for the naturalization process
- Fill out Form N-400 online or by mail
- Submit your biometrics and attend an interview
- Take the naturalization test and oath of allegiance
We hope this article has helped you understand how to get U.S. dual citizenship through naturalization. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or feedback.
Can I lose my U.S. citizenship if I obtain dual citizenship?
No, the U.S. government does not require you to renounce your citizenship in another country to become a U.S. citizen.
How long does the naturalization process take?
The naturalization process can take anywhere from 6 months to over a year, depending on various factors such as the backlog of applications and the complexity of your case.
Do I have to speak English fluently to become a U.S. citizen?
Yes, you must demonstrate a basic level of English proficiency in order to pass the naturalization exam. However, there are exceptions for elderly or disabled applicants.
Can I apply for dual citizenship if I am an undocumented immigrant?
No, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for U.S. citizenship. However, there may be other paths to legal status and eventual citizenship.
Can I apply for U.S. citizenship if I have a criminal record?
It depends on the nature and severity of your criminal record. Some crimes may disqualify you from obtaining U.S. citizenship, while others may not be considered significant enough to affect your eligibility. It is essential to consult with an immigration lawyer if you have a criminal record and are considering naturalization.
How long does it take to get U.S. dual citizenship?
The time it takes to get U.S. dual citizenship depends on several factors, such as your eligibility, the processing time of USCIS, the availability of appointments, and the location of your ceremony. According to USCIS, the average processing time for Form N-400 is eight months as of February 2021. However, this may vary depending on your case.
Can I lose my U.S. dual citizenship?
Yes, you can lose your U.S. dual citizenship under certain circumstances such as:
- Renouncing your U.S. citizenship voluntarily before a U.S. consular officer
- Taking an oath or making a declaration of allegiance to another country after reaching 18 years old
- Serving in the armed forces of another country that is engaged in hostilities with the United States
- Working for a foreign government that requires you to give up your U.S. citizenship
- Committing an act of treason against the United States
Can I travel with both passports?
Yes, you can travel with both passports as long as they are valid and meet the entry requirements of your destination country. However, you should always use your U.S. passport when entering or leaving the United States to avoid any problems or delays at the border. You should also check if you need a visa or any other documents for your trip.
How can I prove my U.S. dual citizenship?
The best way to prove your U.S. dual citizenship is to always have both passports with you. You can also use other documents, such as your certificate of naturalization, birth certificate, or your consular report of birth abroad (if you were born outside the United States). However, some authorities or institutions that require a valid passport may not accept these documents.
What are some countries that allow dual citizenship with the United States?
Many countries allow dual citizenship with the United States, such as Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and more. However, some countries do not allow dual citizenship or have certain restrictions or conditions, such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. You should always check the laws and policies of your country of origin before applying for U.S. citizenship to avoid any problems or complications.