Dual citizenship refers to the legal status of an individual who concurrently holds a nationality of two countries. The terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘nationality’ are synonyms and are used interchangeably to explain an individual’s relationship with the country.
Conceptually both terms are closely overlapped as citizenship is used to define the internal political life of an individual, while nationality signifies international dealing and representation.
Rights and Responsibilities of Dual-Citizen:
Being a citizen of a specific country, an individual shares some rights and responsibilities in both countries, such as;
- Right to hold a passport
- Right to enter the country
- Right to work
- Right to own property
- Right to vote
- Right to get a secure living environment etc.
- Right to get the best healthcare services
While they are also potentially responsible towards;
- Double national services
- Pay double taxes
- Follow state rules and regulations of both counties
- Disclose any previous encounters with the law enforcement
Does the U.S. allow dual citizenship?
Every country doesn’t allow dual citizenship because the countries have different policies regarding citizenship, naturalization, and immigration. Before 1967, dual nationality or citizenship was not permitted in the U.S. While the current law of the U.S. opened the window of dual citizenship for its citizens simultaneously. As the U.S. is the dream destination for many immigrants to get permanent residency and eventually citizenship. So, over the years, thousands of applications received for dual nationality and citizenship in the United States.
Popular countries that allow dual citizenship:
Following popular countries currently allow dual citizenship such as;
- Mexican dual citizenship
- German dual citizenship
- Philippine dual citizenship
- Italian dual citizenship
- EI Salvador dual citizenship
How can dual citizenship be achieved?
The criteria for dual citizenship vary from country to country, but overall, it can be achieved automatically or through the specialized legal process explained below in detail;
1. Automatic dual citizenship: An individual can achieve dual citizenship automatically in the following situations;
- When a child is born in the U.S. to parents who are residents of a foreign country, he/she gets citizenship in both countries (U.S. and parents’ country of residence).
- Similarly, if a child of U.S. citizens is born overseas, they may automatically get citizenship of both counties (the U.S. and their country of birth) subject to the law of a specific country.
2. Specialized legal Process: An individual can also attain citizenship through specialized legal processes such as;
- Citizenship by Marriage: A foreign national can get citizenship by marriage if he/she marries a U.S. citizen who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they live. If the foreign national has been a permanent resident for at least three years and has lived with a U.S. citizen spouse during the entire time, and meets other eligibility requirements. Permanent residents can hold the citizenship of both countries (the U.S. and the home country).
- Citizenship by Naturalization: A person who applies for naturalization can get legal residency in another country.
- Citizenship by Adoption: The person adopted as a minor from another country and has at least one (adoptive) parent must be a U.S. citizen.
- Citizenship by investment: An individual can get second citizenship by investing in another country.
Process for Gaining Dual Citizenship in the United States:
If an individual was not born in the United States and still wants to get U.S. citizenship, following specific requirements need to be fulfilled;
- The individual must live in the U.S. as a permanent resident for five continuous years or three years (applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen).
- The individual must be 18 years old when applying for dual citizenship.
- The individual must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
- The individual must pay a fee to apply for permanent residency and citizenship (the fee depends on your filing category). U.S. Department of Homeland Security decided the fee for the citizenship application.
There is no separate application or Form available to file for “dual citizenship” in the United States. It means you will simply apply for second citizenship as per the state’s policies. For this, you should contact the embassy or consulate of your home country to inquire about the country’s policy regarding dual citizenship.
Once you have confirmed the acceptability of dual citizenship from your home country, you should complete the naturalization process in full essence (unless you qualify for U.S. citizenship through a parent). Form 1-485 is required to apply for permanent residency or status adjustment, and Form N-400 is for the application for naturalization.
Furthermore, you are advised to take the help of immigration lawyers to avoid the denial of dual citizenship application.
When should I apply for dual citizenship?
There is no time specification to apply for dual citizenship. An individual can apply at any time for dual citizenship after fulfilling all the eligibility requirements for naturalization.
How long is the process?
The first step of getting dual citizenship is filing a citizenship application with USCIS, which can take 1.6 years (maximum). The overall definite time duration depends upon the USCIS field office that receives your application and how soon you initiate the process.
Though the dual citizenship program is a complex process in which a good immigration attorney can help you prepare required documents to avoid denial of second citizenship application by USCIS.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why should I apply for dual citizenship?
Ans: A dual Citizenship offers certain benefits for an individual, such as; easier access to a stable, safe and prosperous economy, more business opportunities, quality education, and the best healthcare facilities. By getting dual citizenship, you can become a global citizen by adopting different citizenship categories to catch up with personal, professional, and business opportunities.
What is a ‘residency by investment’ under the dual citizenship law?
Ans: Residency by Investment refers to the residency or citizenship category in which an individual invests in government-approved sectors of another country to obtain legal residency. It is the conventional and simplest process of getting the legal residence, fulfilling a few requirements.
How does the taxation rule apply in the case of dual citizenship?
Ans: It depends upon the tax agreement between your birth country and your second state where you got dual citizenship. You probably have to pay double taxes in both countries to avoid a tax defaulter’s status.
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