Which Countries Allow Dual Citizenship with the US?
Dual citizenship refers to the status of an individual who holds the nationality of two different countries at the same time.
Individuals with dual citizenship enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as the citizens of each of the two nations.
The US allows its citizens to hold dual nationality with other nations, but this is not the case for all countries.
Why hold dual citizenship?
In practical terms, dual citizenship can offer many benefits. If you travel frequently between the two countries, for example to visit relatives, you won’t need to apply for a visa to enter either country. You would also usually benefit from the rights to work, vote and own property in both countries.
There may however also be disadvantages to holding dual citizenship, such as taxation liabilities within both countries and the associated administration demands, which cause many to pursue the option of renunciation to simply their affairs by retaining a single nationality.
Dual citizenship rules
The rules governing citizenship vary from country to country and it will be important to understand the specific rules of the countries where the individual may qualify as a citizen.
For example, dual citizenship can arise automatically rather than by election or choice of the individual. This would mean a child born in a foreign country to US national parents may be both a US national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national.
Not all countries allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship – China and India, for example, where attained foreign citizenship leads to automatic loss of citizenship. Other countries operate restricted and highly selective eligibility criteria, such as Spain, which only permits dual nationality with selected Latin American countries.
Dual citizenship with the USA
Prior to 1967, dual citizenship was not permitted in the United States. Under current US law, however, American citizens may be able to hold dual nationality with another country. US citizens granted citizenship in a foreign state are under no legal obligation under US law to renounce their US citizenship.
It is important to note also that the USA follows the ‘master nationality’ rule, which means it recognizes only the US nationality of an individual, regardless of any other citizenship the individual may hold.
Differences between Green Card and US citizenship
Green Card holders have lawful permanent residence status in the USA. This means you are not subject to immigration restrictions, although if you leave the US for longer than 12 months, you would generally need to make an application to re-enter the US. There are also no restrictions on the type of activities you can undertake while in the US – eg work, study, retire. You can also sponsor close family members for their own Green Cards.
However, Green Card holders do not have the full rights of US citizens, nor are they subject to the same responsibilities. In addition to the benefits of being a lawful permanent resident, US citizens also have the right to vote and access public funds, but they also have to meet US tax obligations and carry out jury or military service if summoned.
Naturalizing as a US citizen
Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”
There are many ways you may be eligible to attain US citizenship. You would generally be required to hold a Green Card for five years before making your naturalization application, but the eligibility requirements are far from straight forward and you should take advice on your circumstances to ascertain your eligibility and the most appropriate application route.
US law cannot extend to determine recognition of an individual’s citizenship by another nation. While individuals naturalizing as US citizens are required to take an oath at their citizenship ceremony which includes a pledge to “renounce[s] and abjure[s] all allegiance and fidelity”. This does not extend to citizenship. Only if the law of the other country stipulates renunciation of citizenship will the individual have to oblige.
How long does it take to get US citizenship?
The path to US citizenship can vary greatly in length depending on a number of factors, including the route you are eligible under and the US post that is processing your application. There are also several stages to the naturalization process, including the time required for you to become eligible – typically 3-5 years with Green Card status – as well as the actual wait time for your naturalization to be processed by the authorities, which can be around 1.5 – 2 years, again depending on the circumstances.
To gauge your expected wait time, applicants are advised to contact professional US nationality lawyers for guidance on current processing times.
Traveling as a dual citizen
US citizens enjoy the right to enter the US without immigration restrictions. This requires you to enter the US as a US citizen, using your US passport.
Renunciation of US citizenship
If you have naturalized in a foreign country and do not wish to maintain dual citizenship with the US or the law in your country does not permit dual citizenship, you will need to follow the legal process of renunciation to evidence you are voluntarily giving up your US citizenship with full intent. If you are considering renunciation, take professional advice to ensure you understand the full legal ramifications, as this process is irreversible.
List of countries allowing or banning dual citizenship
Note that nations regularly amend their laws, as such this list is subject to change. You are advised to take legal guidance on your circumstances to ensure you are working to the most up-to-date rules.
Countries which permit dual citizenship
The following countries permit dual citizenship, subject to national laws and rules and restrictions on eligibility. Note that status is subject to change and you are advised to take advice on your circumstances for the most up to date position:
- Czech Republic
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
Countries where Dual Citizenship is not permitted
Note that status is subject to change and you are advised to take advice for the most up to date position affecting your circumstances:
- Myanmar (Burma)
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.