The intent behind dual citizenship or dual nationality is for a person to be legally recognized as a citizen of two different countries simultaneously. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the unambiguous language concerning citizenship matters as decreed by constitutional law allows for individuals to maintain lifelong dual citizenship in the U.S. and abroad if they have been a dual citizen since the time of birth or early childhood. For example, a child who is born abroad to U.S. citizen parents will automatically hold dual citizenship in the country of birth and the U.S.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that a person can maintain dual citizenship in another country if they already have U.S. citizenship, and the country in which they are seeking dual citizenship does not call for a legal renunciation of their U.S. citizenship before a United States consular. This is an important distinction, because every country has its own citizenship laws and policies, which could affect your ability to obtain dual citizenship. Accordingly, it is important to speak with a New York immigration attorney before moving forward with the process.
For individuals who have become U.S. citizens through the process of naturalization, the policies regarding their citizenship in their country of origin can be complicated. Technically, completing the U.S. naturalization process requires a person to state under oath that they are formally renouncing their old citizenship and taking up citizenship in the U.S. The lines by which this rule is followed by naturalized citizens (and enforced by U.S. government officials) are slightly unclear.
By law, anyone who is found to be acting inconsistently with the promises that they made when pledging citizenship to the U.S. and renouncing citizenship in another country can systematically cost them their citizenship in the U.S. Although the State Department has ceased active pursuit of these types of cases, it is not out of the realm of possibility for a naturalized citizenship to lose his or her citizenship for something as small as continuing to use their old non-U.S. passport.
By way of practice, the U.S. government does not encourage dual nationality, nor does it deny recognition of its existence. Rather, the government acknowledges dual nationality but recognizes it as a policy that can result in many conflicts of interest. For example, the laws and policies of a foreign country might not reflect those that are enforced in the U.S., and vice versa. Consequently, the U.S. government’s abilities to assist citizens living abroad could be limited.
Dual nationals must understand that their allegiance is technically owed to both the U.S. and the other country in which they hold citizenship. As such, they are required to obey the laws and policy regulations of both countries, and can be subject to the enforcement of these laws at any time. The best way to ensure that you are not jeopardizing your U.S. citizenship in any way by holding dual nationality is by speaking to an immigration lawyer about the specifics of your situation. Under the guidance of a legal professional, you can move forward with your case without fear of disobeying any laws that could put your citizenship at risk.
Although it’s possible to be a dual citizen in the U.S. and another foreign country, it is a process that is not free of complications. With more than 90 years of experience among us, at Pozo Goldstien, LLP we are well-aware of the issues that can arise when dual citizenship is sought, especially when it involves a person who obtained U.S. citizenship by way of naturalization. We have therefore extended our professional services to individuals throughout New York City and to citizens abroad. For more information, contact us today.