What is Dual Citizenship?

Every country has expectations of its citizens, with varying expectations in different places across the globe. Sometimes individuals in one country will decide to become citizens in a second country. If permitted by both countries, then you are someone who has dual citizenship.

The United States and over 60 other countries around the globe permit complete or partial dual citizenship. The rules can differ significantly from one nation to the next. Dual citizenship has its advantages but can also create specific unexpected legal problems between the two nation-states involved.

If you consider dual citizenship, the best place to start is with experienced legal counsel. The attorneys and staff at De Castroverde Law, serving Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada, understand the circumstances of dual citizenship in the United States and other countries and can explain what you need to know.

What Is Dual Citizenship?

US Passport
Image via Flickr by Damian316 | CC by 2.0

Dual citizenship is defined as a person who becomes a citizen of two countries simultaneously. U.S. law allows for dual citizenship by omission. The law does not include clauses that mandate that people naturalized in the United States give up their citizenship in the country in which they were born.

According to the U.S. Department of State, dual citizens owe “allegiance” to both countries, leading to some confusing situations. Dual citizens must follow the laws of both countries, and both countries may enforce their rules on the individual. It is not unheard of for dual citizens to find themselves conflicted — pursuing actions in one country that are illegal in the other. Having experienced legal counsel, such as the team at De Castroverde Law, can help you avoid any surprises.

Who Is Eligible for Dual Citizenship?

Every country has its own set of rules. In the United States, anyone can qualify for dual citizenship since the law does not expressly forbid it. Interestingly, though, dual citizenship involving the United States can, in certain circumstances, be conferred automatically.

For example, a child born outside the United States to U.S. parents may have citizenship in both countries from the first moments of life. You can also find yourself with the prospect of dual citizenship through marriage. A more common pathway is having someone born in one country choosing to seek naturalized citizenship in the second country.

Not all countries permit dual citizenship. For example, China, Indonesia, and India do not, which means its citizens must renounce their birthright citizenship if they choose to pursue naturalization in another country. Some countries place limits on dual citizenship. Spain, for example, permits it with certain Latin American countries. Iceland permits it if the other country involved allows for dual citizenship.

What Is Required for Dual Citizenship?

In a situation in which one of the two countries is the United States, the first and most crucial requirement is understanding whether the other country involved permits dual citizenship.

If not, then the question is moot, because becoming a citizen of the United States means you may have to renounce your birthright citizenship. To understand the dual citizenship process in your home country, you should consult with the relevant consulate or embassy.

There is no separate process for obtaining dual citizenship within the United States. If your home country allows it, and you desire to keep citizenship in both countries, you simply have to follow the standard U.S. process for obtaining legal status.

Is Dual Citizenship Illegal? Can It Lead to Jail Time or Fines?

Dual citizenship is not illegal. You will not face jail time or fines simply for seeking to hold second citizenship. One exception may be if you somehow submit false information-seeking immigration status in the United States. In that case, the penalties, if any, would be geared toward the act of fraud, not the request for dual citizenship.

The same is not necessarily true in other nations. One country that reportedly has considered issuing penalties for dual citizenship is the nation of Ukraine. The attorneys at De Castroverde Law will research your particular situation and provide experienced counsel on avoiding any legal difficulties.

Are There Benefits to Dual Citizenship?

There are advantages and disadvantages to dual citizenship. On the plus side, you can have the privileges afforded citizens in two countries — have a voice in choosing elected officials, receiving social safety net benefits, work, or attend school in either country. Possessing two passports from each nation of citizenship can smooth travel between them as you no longer need to work through the lengthy visa process for an extended stay. You also may be able to own certain types of property in both countries of citizenship.

Dual citizenship is not without complications. If your second country requires military service and cannot avoid it, you could be subject to having your U.S. citizenship revoked. You may be taxed twice. With a second citizenship, you may be ineligible for specific jobs, such as those that require a security classification.

As we said earlier, there may be many other instances where the laws of one country create conflicts for you in the second country, as you must live by the terms of both sets of rules.

Obtaining Legal Counsel for Obtaining Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship can get complicated as you are dealing with the laws and regulations of two countries simultaneously. It can also have lifelong challenges. The immigration law team at De Castroverde Law, serving Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada, can represent you through this sometimes delicate process. We have decades of experience in U.S. immigration law and relationships with counsel in other countries to get you the legal advice you need.

Voted best immigration lawyers in Las Vegas, De Castroverde Law can help you with all your immigration matters, whether you’re seeking an immigrant visa for a spouse, have a child who is a lawful resident, or facing deportation. We will stand by your side every step of the way through visa processing, deportation hearings, appeals, and family immigration petitions. Call us or contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation.