Almost everything is possible in the U.S., including simultaneously being a citizen of another country. While possible, it’s important to consider pitfalls, obstacles, and disadvantages when you apply for dual citizenship.
This complete guide will help you apply for dual citizenship and learn whether you should go through the process depending on your situation.
Table of Contents
- How to Apply for Dual Citizenship
- Advantages to Dual Citizenship
- Dual Citizenship Cost
- Countries that Allow Dual Citizenship
- Dual Citizenship and Taxes
- Risks of Losing U.S. Citizenship
- How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
How to Apply for Dual Citizenship
If you are a citizen of a foreign country and also wish to be a citizen of the U.S., there is no specific process to earn dual citizenship. All you have to do is apply for U.S. citizenship. You do not have to apply for citizenship if you were born in the U.S. or born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent.
How to Become a U.S. Citizen
Although all you have to do is apply for citizenship, it’s not as simple as you might wish. Along with being at least 18 years old and being of good moral character, you must suffice one of the following criteria to submit a citizenship application:
- Have had a green card for at least 5 years
- Have been married to a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years
- Have served or are still serving in the military
If you suffice any of the above criteria, you can start your citizenship process by submitting form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to the USCIS. Later, USCIS will schedule an in-person interview that will include a citizenship test and questions regarding your background. After the interview, you will have to go to a biometrics appointment to take your fingerprints. If all goes well, you will soon be taking an oath pledging allegiance to the U.S.
Having successfully completed the process, you would get the certificate of naturalization, which officially confirms your citizenship in the U.S. This legally gives you the privilege to own and carry a U.S. passport wherever you go in the world. With that comes all the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.
The dual citizenship process can take anywhere from 1.5 years up to 2 depending on your history, the second country your a citizen of, and any USCIS-related backlogs and delays.
U.S. Citizenship Denial
If you are denied U.S. citizenship, the cause can often be traced to the information in your N-400 form. Luckily, USCIS will submit a reason for denial when you’re notified along with the return of your money. With the explanation, you can see where there might be an error. Reasons for denial can include but are not limited to the following:
- Missing signature on N-400
- Missing filing fees
- Missing information or required evidence on your application
Being denied does not stop you from reapplying. Also, instead of denial, USCIS might request further evidence to help explain information in your application.
Advantages to Dual Citizenship
Dual citizenship allows you a lot of freedom of access, movement, and money that isn’t easily available to just the citizens of one country.
If you’re tired of re-entry visas, I-94 extensions, or visa delays, dual citizenship provides a massive benefit. Not only can you travel freely between both countries where you’re a citizen, but as a U.S. citizen, you can travel anywhere around the globe for as long as you want without losing your citizenship. Please refer to the travel laws of your second country to see if there are any restrictions. Embassy sites are a good starting point to see what dual citizenship restrictions exist. Fin your embassy site and find the section on dual nationality for clarity.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen but work in the U.S., work permits and visas can be burdensome. With dual citizenship, you can work in the U.S. without the need for a permit. However, it may be difficult to get jobs that require security clearances.
With dual citizenship, you can now freely enroll in any school in the U.S. without the need for an F-1 visa. Along with new educational opportunities, you can now vote in the U.S. elections. In addition, all public benefits available to U.S. citizens will also be available to you even if you are also a citizen of another country. When traveling, you now have the help of the U.S. State Department if you confront any issues.
Sponsoring relatives gets a lot easier with dual citizenship. Green card holders can’t sponsor parents, siblings, fiancés, and certain children. With U.S. citizenship, you can now sponsor those relatives and more to get a green card.
Dual Citizenship Cost
You must pay U.S. naturalization fees to get dual citizenship along with any fees required by the second country. Below is a breakdown of U.S naturalization costs.
- N-400 form: $640
- Biometrics: $85
- Total: $725
You can pay the fees together all at once with a money order or check.
Military applicants are exempt from naturalization fees.
For the fees of the second country, you should refer to that country’s dual citizenship laws.
Countries that Allow Dual Citizenship
Countries’ laws change constantly, so it’s important to seek an immigration attorney’s advice before attempting the naturalization process. Dual citizenship has grown over the years within countries. In 1960 only 38 percent of countries around the world allowed dual citizenship, according to the Maastricht Centre for Citizenship. In 2020, the amount has increased to 76 percent.
Below is the current list of countries where it’s possible to have dual citizenship. They each have their own regulations and restrictions that you should study further.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Chad, Republic of
- Congo, Republic of
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- The Gambia
- Ivory Coast
- New Guinea
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- South Korea
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Kingdom
Some countries named above may not officially allow dual citizenship, but it’s still possible to be a dual citizen.
Panama is an example of a country that by law does not allow dual citizenship as you are required to denounce any other citizenship when you take an oath of citizenship. However, the U.S. does not recognize that renunciation unless you do it at a U.S. embassy or in front of a State Department official.
Paraguay technically only allows natural-born Paraguayans to have dual citizenship with the U.S. Naturalized Paraguayans are not allowed dual citizenship. El Salvador is another country that only allows dual citizenship to natural-born Salvadorians.
Cuba is another country that does not officially allow dual citizenship, but if you naturalize as a U.S. citizen, you don’t lose your Cuban citizenship. Cuba just doesn’t recognize your new U.S. citizenship. If you want to travel to Cuba, you still need to use a Cuban passport, and while in Cuba, you are considered a Cuban citizen.
It is easy to find yourself in a legal conundrum with so many variations. An experienced immigration attorney should guide you through the dual citizenship process.
What Do You Do if Your Country Does Not Allow Dual Citizenship
If you don’t see a country on the list above, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck. Some countries might not dual citizenship but might offer alternatives. For instance, India doesn’t allow dual citizenship but does have a category called Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI). An Indian citizen will lose their citizenship if they naturalize as a U.S. citizen but can become an OCI. An OCI does not have political rights but does gain a permanent multiple-entry visa and has the same access to rights and institutions as non-resident Indians except for any agricultural and plantation purposes.
An immigration attorney can help you understand the details of your home country.
Dual Citizenship and Taxes
If you thought being a citizen of two countries would allow you to pay taxes in the more advantageous country, you’re about to learn a hard truth. You’re wrong. Just like there are rights, there are also responsibilities that come with dual citizenship, and one of the biggest responsibilities is paying taxes. Unless the country has an agreement with the U.S., you risk double taxation. One of the biggest disadvantages, double taxation involves paying taxes on the same income to both countries.
However, the U.S. has agreements with some countries that can help reduce double taxation regarding social security and medicare taxes. The specifics of these totalization agreements vary depending on the country. Below is a list of countries where totalization agreements exist with the U.S.
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
- Slovak Republic
New agreements are always being added with the latest being Iceland in 2019. It’s important to also consult a tax professional along with an immigration attorney to see how dual citizenship will affect you.
Other responsibilities that come with dual citizenship include mandatory jury duty in the U.S. and military service if required by law. Your second country likely also has responsibilities that come with citizenship. It’s important to know these responsibilities because some might create a conflict with U.S. citizenship, like mandatory military service.
Risks of Losing U.S. Citizenship
The U.S. may allow dual citizenship, but there are circumstances where you might lose your U.S. citizenship while you’re a dual citizen.
Public Office and Dual Citizenship
Working for a foreign government will not lead to a loss of U.S. citizenship unless your employment is done with the explicit intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship.
If you work for a foreign government in a non-policy position, you can still keep your U.S. citizenship as long as there is not a preponderance of evidence that you wish to abandon your U.S. citizenship.
If your foreign government position is in a policy-making capacity, then the State Department will investigate further. If you are in that situation and want to retain U.S. citizenship, then you must contact the State Department or embassy and make them aware of your intention.
Military Service and Dual Citizenship
Serving in a foreign military as a U.S. citizen is not against any U.S. law but can lead to loss of citizenship.
One way to lose citizenship is to voluntarily join a foreign military that is hostile towards the U.S. In addition, serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer of a foreign military that is hostile will also lead to a loss of U.S. citizenship. However, voluntary service as a soldier to a foreign military not hostile towards the U.S. will not result in a loss of citizenship even if you become an officer. Your intention in joining the foreign military is key when the U.S. determines whether you should lose your citizenship.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Avoid the hassle, burden, and potential pitfalls of dual citizenship by hiring an immigration attorney. You’ll save time and potential legal hurdles.
With many years of experience with dual citizenship cases, our expert attorneys can help you through from beginning to end. We have helped countless clients file their N-400 forms as well as get them processed and approved. Our attorneys are your best bet in helping you submit a successful dual citizenship application.
To get in touch with one of our immigration attorneys, you can fill out our contact form and schedule a consultation with us today.