USA and the UK
What is dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship is defined as being a citizen of two countries simultaneously. Dual citizens have two passports (one from each country) and enjoy the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of each country.
A person can become a dual citizen in different ways. For example, a person could acquire dual citizenship through their parents who are each a different foreign national or can be born with citizenship in one country and then acquire another citizenship later on in life.
It should be noted however that some countries do not allow dual citizenship. Therefore, the rules for acquiring dual nationality differ depending on the countries involved.
Does the United States allow dual citizenship?
The United States does not formally recognize dual citizenship but it does not specifically prohibit it either. Although new U.S. citizens must pledge an Oath of Allegiance when they become naturalized legal citizens, the United States does not require those new citizens to give up their foreign citizenship from their home country.
Dual citizenship is allowed for the citizens of the United States provided that the other country will allow it. For example, some countries like China and India will automatically invalidate your citizenship once you acquire another country’s citizenship.
How can you get dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship can be acquired in many different ways. For example, if a child is born to foreign parents in a country that allows citizenship by birth, they will automatically obtain citizenship of the country where they were born in addition to the citizenship of their parent’s nationality. It should be noted however that children born in the U.S. to foreign diplomats do not receive American citizenship by birth.
Depending on the nationality of their parents, a child can also obtain dual citizenship if they have a foreign parent who can sponsor them for another nationality. For example, both British and American parents can sponsor their child for citizenship if the child was born abroad.
Another way to receive second citizenship is to acquire another nationality later in life through immigration or other specialized legal processes (for example, citizenship by marriage).
What are the advantages of dual citizenship?
In addition to enjoying the rights as a dual citizen in two countries such as the right to vote, access to benefits, and the freedom to live in each country, there are other benefits to maintaining dual nationality.
Freedom to international travel
Those who are granted dual citizenship enjoy the benefit of carrying two passports allowing them to travel to more places easily and without having to apply ahead of time for a valid travel visa. Those with the privilege of owning an American passport can travel to more than a hundred countries for short-term stays or vacations without requiring a visa.
It should also be noted that if you are leaving or entering a country in which you are a citizen, you must present and travel on the passport of that certain country. In other words, if travel to the United States as a dual citizen, you must enter and return using your American passport. Once you leave the country, you are free to use another passport if you choose.
Freedom to work
Those citizens with dual nationality can freely work and conduct business in the two countries that they are citizens in without the need for employment authorization.
In addition, becoming a citizen opens up new opportunities for certain types of employment that do not or can not employ foreign nationals (ex. Certain federal employment positions that only hire U.S. citizens)
Freedom to own property
Some countries maintain the right to prohibit and restrict property ownership to foreign nationals. However, dual nationals have the ability to own property in either country where they have citizenship.
Quality of Life and Education
Dual citizens have the benefit of choosing which country they can live in that could give them a better quality of life. In addition, citizens can attend school in their preferred country without having to pay the international tuition rate.
No more complicated immigration forms
If you have lived in a country long enough to become a naturalized citizen, you can enjoy the perk of no longer having to deal with complicated immigration forms regarding visa renewals and fee payments. As a citizen, you can live in the country as you please without having to notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of any changes in your employment or address.
Depending on the countries you are a citizen of, you may be able to sponsor your family members for citizenship. For example, American nationals can sponsor their spouses, parents, children, and siblings for green cards. In addition, their children will automatically become U.S. citizens, even if they are born abroad.
What are the disadvantages of dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship comes with a lot of privileges and benefits. However, there are dual obligations of being a citizen in two different countries.
Double tax burden
With citizenship comes the responsibility of taxation. Dual nationals are liable for taxation in both countries where they maintain their citizenship. US citizens are liable to pay taxes on any income they earn anywhere in the world in addition to the country where they maintain their residence. For those concerned about double taxation, there are income tax treaties between the U.S. and certain countries that help to reduce the taxation rate on an individual’s income earned. Since tax laws can be very complicated in each country, it is recommended that you consult with a tax specialist who can best advise you on how to handle your tax obligations.
If you are a legal citizen of a country where there is mandatory military service, you may lose your other citizenship if you are engaged in combat with a foreign military of a country in which you hold citizenship. This, however, is a rare situation and will most likely depend on the countries in which a person holds citizenship. In the U.S., most dual citizens can fulfill their military obligations abroad without it threatening their citizenship status.
Exempt from Certain Employment
If you are a dual national who is seeking to work in a profession that requires a security clearance or involves access to classified information, your dual citizenship could make you ineligible for employment.
What countries do not allow dual citizenship?
While the U.S. permits its citizens to maintain dual citizenship many other countries do not and could invalidate your original citizenship once you acquire the citizenship of another country. Furthermore, some countries will allow dual nationality but only up to a certain age limit. Before you commit to becoming naturalized in another country, it is important to research whether or not you are eligible for dual citizenship and discuss your options with your immigration lawyer.
How can IAS help me?
If you are considering obtaining dual citizenship, it is important to be informed of all the dual citizenship advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the specifics will depend on you, your unique circumstances, and the two countries in which you are seeking to hold dual citizenship. Here at IAS, we can help you navigate the complicated process of it all.
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