U.S. Law and Dual Citizenship
- When discussing dual citizenship, many U.S. citizens believe that there is a law that forbids them from retaining or acquiring the citizenship of another country. This, in fact, is quite false. Dual citizenship has been long recognized by the United States as a right. The U.S. Department of State's regulation on dual citizenship falls under (7 FAM 1162). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled under (Kawakita v. U.S., 343 U.S. 717) (1952) that dual citizenship is a "status long recognized in the law" and that "a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not mean that he renounces the other." Likewise in Schneider v. Rusk 377 U.S. 163 (1964), the Supreme Court ruled that, "a naturalized U.S. citizen has the right to return to his native country and to resume his former citizenship, and also to remain a U.S. citizen even if he never returns to the United States."
The Immigration and Nationality Act
- The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) neither defines what constitutes dual citizenship nor does it take a position for or against it. There has been no prohibition against dual citizenship, but some provisions of the INA and earlier U.S. nationality laws were designed to reduce situations in which dual citizenship exist. These mainly consist of naturalization in a foreign country, denouncing American (U.S.) citizenship (be it on U.S. soil or at a U.S. embassy abroad), serving in and swearing allegiance to a foreign army or military organization fighting against the United States, taking a job or swearing allegiance to a foreign country or importantly treason. Treason has been a reconsidered often since the early 2000's with the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and subsequent "home-grown terrorists" and "enemy combatants." Although naturalized citizens are required to take an oath renouncing previous allegiances, the oath has never been enforced to require the termination of original citizenship.
Knowing the Laws in Both Countries
- When a person is a U.S. citizen and naturalized in a foreign country, the United States may turn a blind eye, but many other countries do not. Prior to acquiring foreign citizenship through naturalization you should check with the equivalent to the U.S. Department of State and ask about your rights and responsibilities. It is also important to note that a dual citizen is almost always held to the laws of the lands they are citizens in when it comes to crime. For example, a Swedish and U.S. national would be subject to all Swedish laws with no remedy from the U.S. government should they commit a crime, or for the purpose of national service in armed forces or taxation. Likewise, dual citizens may choose which embassy to call if they find themselves in trouble abroad.
Countries Prohibiting or Discouraging Dual Citizenship
- Certain countries not only discourage, but also make it illegal to hold more than one citizenship and as such will strip a citizen caught doing so of his citizenship. Among these countries are China, Denmark, Japan and Singapore. This does not, however, mean that people do not retain dual citizenship. For example, even if they hand in their passports, U.S. citizens of any of these countries are always considered citizens. In Saudi Arabia, there is not a direct ban on holding foreign citizenship as well as Saudi citizenship, but if caught holding a foreign passport, you may be fined.
Variations on Dual Citizenshop
- In a different twist to the complicated situation of multiple nationalities, there are yet other countries that do allow a citizen to apply to be eligible to maintain her citizenship of birth, or homeland, along with a newly acquired citizenship. One great example of this is Austria. Actor turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger applied for and was able to keep his Austrian citizenship via this scheme.
In Spain dual nationality is allowed without any application if you come from one of its former colonies which include, Argentina (despite conflicts over the Falkland Islands), Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru.