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Is Dual Citizenship Legal in the United States?

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By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on December 11, 2014 11:47 AM

Many Americans are citizens of another country as well, and may be wondering if their dual citizenship is legal under U.S. law.

U.S. law doesn't address dual nationality or require a person to choose one country's citizenship over another, but the government doesn't encourage it as a matter of policy, according to the federal government's official Web portal, USA.gov.

So the short answer is that the government won't punish those who have dual citizenship. But why do people want it, and who's eligible for dual citizenship?

Why Do People Want Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship occurs when a U.S. citizen is also a citizen of another country. One of the reasons why people seek citizenship in America is to obtain the rights and privileges that might not be available in the other country of citizenship. For example, having a U.S. passport allows citizens to visit more than 100 countries without a visa. When you compare that with the 47 countries citizens of Egypt can visit without a visa, having a U.S. passport can come in handy for ease of travel.

Dual citizenship can also play a role in one's cultural identity. For instance, some Americans were born overseas and moved to the United States as children. Being allowed to remain a citizen of their birth country allows these people to hold onto their ethnic identities while embracing their new lives in the United States.

How to Obtain Dual Citizenship

While the United States doesn't formally recognize dual citizenship, it doesn't take a stand against it either. Because there is no law against dual citizenship, here are some potential ways a person can acquire dual citizenship:

  • Being born in the United States to immigrant parents,
  • Regaining citizenship in your birth country after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen,
  • Being born outside of the United States to a parent who's a U.S. citizen while the other one is a citizen of another country, and
  • Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen while maintaining citizenship in another country.

Whether you're seeking dual citizenship for seamless travel opportunities or for cultural identity reasons, you may want to consult an immigration attorney near you to learn more.

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