When you are ready to start your citizenship application or apply for a certificate certifying your citizenship, you might end up having citizenship from two different countries. This is called dual citizenship and its a unique immigration status that only happens in certain countries.
What is dual citizenship?
You can’t really apply specifically for dual citizenship in the United States. There isn’t a form that you can sign and mail in to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which will get you dual citizenship.
Rather, most people get dual citizenship when they have U.S. citizenship through their parents or through birth and are also citizens of a different country through their parents or birth.
It’s also possible for a person to have dual citizenship if they come to the U.S. and become a citizen after becoming a permanent resident (green card holder). This process is called naturalization and people who go through the process are called naturalized citizens.
How to get dual citizenship
Generally speaking, there is only one way to get dual citizenship: by getting U.S. citizenship and holding citizenship in a different country. However, we can separate this out into two different processes that may result in dual citizenship.
- Birthright citizenship – The most common form of U.S. citizenship. You are granted birthright citizenship if you are born in the United States or if one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens. Birthright citizenship can be proven using a birth certificate or a citizenship certificate (applied for using Form N-600).
- Naturalization – This is when a permanent resident (green card holder) becomes a citizen by filing Form N-400, taking the requisite tests and taking the Oath of Allegiance. In order to naturalize, green card holders must first meet a set of strict requirements that you can learn more about in our blog.
Benefits of dual citizenship
The benefits of dual citizenship vary depending on the countries that are claimed. U.S. citizens are given the following rights:
- The right to hold a U.S. passport and leave and enter the country at will
- The right to live and work in the U.S.
- The right to vote in federal elections and hold public office
- The right to help parents, siblings, children and spouse immigrate to the U.S.
Citizens of the United States also have some duties to the state such as paying taxes or jury duty.
With dual citizenship, they have these rights and benefits from the United States and the rights and benefits of the citizenship of the other country.
For example, a dual citizen may be able to vote in federal elections in the U.S. and in the country of their other citizenship. They may also be able to hold two equally valid passports, one from the U.S. and one from the other country of citizenship.