Dual Citizenship

If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of dual citizenship – the act of being a citizen of two countries. The United States allows its citizens to maintain citizenship in another country, which entitles people who have dual citizenship to all the benefits (and requires them to meet the same responsibilities) that both countries require.

So how do you get dual citizenship in the U.S.? This guide explains.

Dual Citizenship - Austin Immigration Attorney - Nanthaveth & Associates

How to Get Dual Citizenship in the United States

The United States doesn’t require a person to choose one nationality over another. U.S. citizens are permitted to naturalize in a foreign state without risking their U.S. citizenship. (And, if you choose, you may relinquish your U.S. citizenship with no penalty. However, renouncing your U.S. citizenship is permanent. You would have to naturalize as a U.S. citizen if you wanted your citizenship back.)

Dual nationals – people who have dual citizenship – owe their allegiance to both the U.S. and their other country. They’re also required to obey the laws of both countries, and to use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States (even if they have a passport from another country).

Note: Not all countries permit dual citizenship, though the United States does. That means the other country may require you to give up your citizenship. For example, China and India both require you to give up citizenship in those countries upon receiving citizenship in another country; if that’s the case with your home country, you will not be a dual citizen. You’ll only be a citizen of the United States.

You don’t have to follow any special procedures if you want to hold on to your original citizenship from another country as you become a United States citizen. You simply follow the same path every other naturalized citizen takes.

Becoming a Naturalized U.S. Citizen With Dual Citizenship

Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen who holds dual citizenship is a fairly straightforward process. You must petition the U.S. government after establishing lawful permanent residency in the U.S., which usually only takes place after you’re in the country on a valid visa. You must meet all eligibility requirements, which include being able to read, write and speak basic English and having been present in the U.S. for a certain period of time.

If you meet all eligibility requirements, you can become a naturalized citizen by following these steps:

  1. Have your Austin immigration attorney submit Form N-400 on your behalf
  2. Attend a biometrics appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  3. Complete your citizenship interview and the citizenship test
  4. Wait for your decision from USCIS
  5. Take your Oath of Allegiance to the United States

Here’s a closer look at each.

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Dual Citizenship Attorney in Austin, TX - Nanthaveth & AssociatesForm N-400 for U.S. Citizenship

Your attorney can fill out and file Form N-400 for you. This form is the official application for naturalization. You’ll also need to give your attorney documentation that supports your petition, such as a copy of your U.S. green card, your marriage certificate (if you’re married) and two passport-style photographs. You may also need other types of documentation, but your attorney will let you know what to provide so you don’t have to guess.

Attending Your Biometrics Appointment

You’ll most likely have to show up at a USCIS office for a biometrics appointment. At your biometrics appointment, a USCIS official will take your fingerprints, collect your signature and may ask you for photographs.

Usually, these appointments only take about 30 minutes to complete (not counting the time you wait for your appointment in the waiting area). This is an essential part of the citizenship process; the U.S. government needs to collect this data on you in order to process your citizenship petition.

You don’t have to study for anything for your biometrics appointment. You simply need to show up in the right place at the right time. You’ll receive a notice in the mail from USCIS that gives you instructions on where to be and when.

Completing Your Citizenship Interview and Passing the U.S. Citizenship Test

Nearly everyone who attains U.S. citizenship has to go through a citizenship interview. Like the biometrics appointment, you’ll receive a notice from USCIS on when and where to appear. But unlike the biometrics appointment, you should prepare for the interview.

Your interview will be conducted by a USCIS official who’s “checking up” on the information you provided in your naturalization application. The official in charge of your interview may ask you questions about the information you already included, or they may ask you to provide new information. If you’re applying for citizenship based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, the official may also ask you several questions about your marital relationship to ensure that you aren’t engaged in a fraudulent marriage (one that only exists so that you could obtain an immigration benefit).

You’ll also take your citizenship test during this interview. Part of the test is your ability to speak in English, which your interviewer will evaluate the whole time. You’ll also be asked to read and write in English. Finally, your interviewer will ask you up to ten questions from this list. You must answer at least six of the ten questions correctly; otherwise, you fail the citizenship test.

Waiting for Your Decision From USCIS

Sometimes a USCIS official makes a decision on the same day of the immigration interview. However, in some cases – especially if USCIS needs more information – it may take longer.

Taking Your Oath of Allegiance to the United States

If your petition is approved and you can become a U.S. citizen, you’ll have to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. Generally, this takes place as a ceremony with other people present. When you swear your oath of allegiance, you’ll receive a certificate and be an official U.S. citizen.

Countries That Permit Dual Citizenship

As of this writing, the countries that permit dual citizenship are outlined in the table below. There are some countries that allow dual citizenship with limitations, so if your country isn’t on this list, it’s a good idea to consult with an Austin immigration attorney for advice.

Armenia Australia Barbados
Belgium Bangladesh Canada
Czech Republic Cyprus Denmark
Egypt France Finland
Germany Greece Hungary
Iceland Iraq Israel
Italy Kenya Lebanon
Malta Mexico Pakistan
Philippines Poland Portugal
Serbia Sierra Leone Slovenia
South Africa South Korea Spain
Sri Lanka Sweden Switzerland
Syria Thailand Tonga
Turkey United Kingdom United States

Countries Where Dual Citizenship is Not Allowed

Many countries don’t allow dual citizenship. Those countries (as of this writing) are outlined in the following table.

Andorra Austria Azerbaikan Burma
Bahrain Bostwana Brunei
Chile China Ecuador
Estonia Fiji India
Indonesia Iran Japan
Kazakhstan Kiribati Kuwait
Latvia Lithuania Malaysia
Mauritius Myanmar Nepal
Netherlands North Korea Norway
Papua New Guinea Peru Romania
Singapore Solomon Islands United Arab Emirates
Venezuela Zimbabwe  

Countries That Permit Dual Citizenship

As of this writing, the countries that permit dual citizenship are outlined in the table below. There are some countries that allow dual citizenship with limitations, so if your country isn’t on this list, it’s a good idea to consult with an Austin immigration attorney for advice.

Armenia Australia Barbados Belgium
Bangladesh Canada Czech Republic Cyprus
Denmark Egypt France Finland
Germany Greece Hungary Iceland
Iraq Israel Italy Kenya
Lebanon Malta Mexico Pakistan
Philippines Poland Portugal Serbia
Sierra Leone Slovenia South Africa South Korea
Spain Sri Lanka Sweden Switzerland
Syria Thailand Tonga Turkey
United Kingdom United States

Countries Where Dual Citizenship is Not Allowed

Many countries don’t allow dual citizenship. Those countries (as of this writing) are outlined in the following table.

Andorra Austria Azerbaijan Burma
Bahrain Botswana Brunei Chile
China Ecuador Estonia Fiji
India Indonesia Iran Japan
Kazakhstan Kiribati Kuwait Latvia
Lithuania Malaysia Mauritius Myanmar
Nepal Netherlands North Korea Norway
Papua New Guinea Peru Romania Singapore
Solomon Islands United Arab Emirates Venezuela Zimbabwe

 

Do You Need to Talk to an Austin Immigration Attorney About Dual Citizenship?

If you’re considering dual citizenship, you may benefit from talking to an Austin immigration attorney. You can call our office right now to schedule your free consultation – we’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you begin moving forward.

 

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