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By Dona Maria Avanzado June 29th, 2010
Dual citizenship means having citizenship in two countries at once. The US permits dual citizenship. There are many ways to attain this type of citizenship. When a child is born the US to parents from another country, the child will usually have dual citizenship. The child will automatically be a US citizen by nature of the birth, but the parent’s status will usually ensure that the child is also a citizen of the parent’s home country. Similarly, if US citizens travel abroad and have a child overseas, the child will usually have a dual citizenship as well. Dual citizenship is also possible through naturalization. If you are a citizen of another country and become a US citizen, you may be able to hold onto your home country citizenship while still enjoying full US citizenship, provided that your home country permits dual citizenship.
It is important to consider dual citizenship possibilities if you are considering becoming a US citizen. This is because not all countries allow dual citizenship. If your home country does not permit it, you may have to renounce or give up your home country citizenship in order to become a US citizen. You may need to consider whether you are prepared to make this choice when applying for your US citizenship. The US State Department has a useful overview of dual citizenship.
The US does not endorse or promote dual citizenship. However, the US does permit and tolerate dual citizenship. There are many advantages to maintaining two citizenships:
1) Ease of travel. If you want to visit your home country often, maintaining dual citizenship will allow you to travel, stay, and work in both countries with few restrictions and with no need for a visa. This can be important if you have family in both countries and may need to travel for extended periods of time.
2) Citizenship benefits. A dual citizenship means that you will enjoy the citizenship advantages of both countries. This can mean, for example, that you qualify for pensions or other benefits in both countries. It will also generally mean that you will be able to vote in both countries.
3) Added protection when traveling. If traveling to your home country, a dual citizenship can allow you to appeal to two embassies or consulates, since you are a citizen of two countries.
However, dual citizenship can also create some problems. When you are the citizen of two countries, you must abide by the laws of both countries and must meet the obligations of both countries. In some cases, these obligations may be in conflict. For example, if the two countries go to war, maintaining a dual citizenship can become challenging. As well, maintaining dual citizenship can create complications, especially in cases where one country has mandatory military service or specific tax laws. The US State Department has a useful website offering advice about dual citizenship.