Many people who live or work in the United States would ultimately like to get American citizenship. American citizens have additional rights, such as being able to hold a American passport and come and go freely from the country without needing to worry about getting a visa. If you’re living some or all of the time in the US, it makes a lot of sense. But what if you don’t want to give up your original nationality to become an American citizen?
Taking up dual citizenship might be the answer. Here’s everything you need to know about who can apply, and how you go about getting dual citizenship with the United States.
Dual citizenship is allowed in the USA.¹ So, if you’re American, you can take citizenship of another country without losing your American citizenship. And there’s no barrier in US law to stop foreigners from acquiring American nationality in addition to their original citizenship.
However, as with all questions of immigration and nationality - it’s not always that straightforward. Not all countries allow dual citizenship. So, even though American law allows it, if you come from somewhere which doesn't accept dual nationalities, you might be forced to give up your original citizenship if you become a US national through naturalisation.
There are huge numbers of variables when it comes to dual nationality. Each situation is unique - so before you go too far, it's worth getting legal advice from an immigration lawyer to help you understand if you can take up a second citizenship with the United States.
Countries which don't allow dual citizenship insist that their citizens revoke their original nationality before taking up any new citizenship. In effect that means that it’s impossible to get dual citizenship if you’re from one of these countries.
Some of the countries which don't allow dual citizenship include:
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)⁹
In many countries, however, dual nationality is perfectly acceptable. Some countries, like Ireland and the UK for example, allow dual citizenship, as long as applicants meet certain criteria. Some other places, like Spain, allow dual nationality, but only under certain circumstances. Did we mention that dual nationality is a complex legal area?
Some of the main countries which accept dual citizenship with the United States include:
- United Kingdom
Triple citizenship - sometimes described as multiple citizenship - isn't banned by law in the United States.¹⁰ You don’t need to give up previous nationalities to become an American citizen. That means that, if you already hold dual dual citizenship elsewhere, and apply for American citizenship too, it shouldn’t cause you a problem, as long as you fulfil all the eligibility requirements to become an American by naturalisation.
In most cases it’s not possible to ‘collect’ citizenships without hitting a practical ceiling. There are a couple of reasons for this - firstly some countries won’t allow you to become a naturalised citizen without giving up your original nationality.
And secondly, some countries will strip you of your naturalised citizenship if you no longer live in the country. That means that if you move away for long enough to fulfil the residency requirements of another country, you could end up having the original citizenship automatically revoked. That’s the case with Irish naturalised citizenship, for example.¹¹ So although there may be no legal limit to the number of nationalities you hold, there are pragmatic reasons why you might not be able to go on acquiring citizenships forever.
You can choose to renounce your American citizenship if, for example, you want to take citizenship of a country which doesn’t allow dual nationality. To do this, you have to visit your local American embassy or appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer, and make a formal statement that you want to stop being an American citizen. It’s quite a process, as there are checks to make sure you’ve paid all your American taxes and so on - and there's a fee to give up your US citizenship, too.¹²
You can also automatically lose your citizenship if you’re a naturalised American citizen, if you serve another country, for example by joining their government, or their armed forces.¹³
There are several steps to becoming an American citizen. You’ll find them all - and all the necessary paperwork - on the website of the US Citizenship and Immigration services.
Here’s an outline of the steps you’ll have to take:
- Ensure you meet the requirements for American citizenship
- Submit relevant documents and proof of eligibility, including photos
- Give biometric information - usually this is fingerprints
- Attend a naturalisation interview
- Pay your fee - including biometric fees this is $725 at present¹⁴
- Assuming your application is approved, you take an oath of allegiance as part of a ceremony
- Once this is all done you’re a US citizen, and can apply for a American passport
Before you can apply for American citizenship you have to fulfil the residency requirements, which depends on your personal circumstances. If you’re married to an American you have to have lived in the US for 3 years, and if not, you must live in the US legally for 5 years before you can apply.¹⁵
Once you’ve sent in your application, you can usually expect a citizenship decision to take around 6 months.¹⁴ During this time you have to attend your interview and give biometric information to support your application.¹⁴
If I’m obtaining dual citizenship, do I need to inform both countries of my new citizenship, or do the countries themselves do that?
What you need to do will depend a lot on your home country, and the law there about dual citizenship. Your best option is to check if you have a duty to inform your home country of your intentions, with either an immigration lawyer or through your local embassy or consulate.
Juggling lives between two nations? Want to save money? TransferWise borderless multi-currency accounts could help.
For people who already live and work abroad, or travel regularly between different countries, getting dual citizenship can make life a lot simpler. If you have to split your life between the United States and your country of origin, you’ll know that juggling life between different countries can cause some practical headaches. A big issue for many people, is the cost incurred if you have to move your money between bank accounts held in different countries and currencies.
You can make your life easier, and avoid unfair fees and charges, if you get a TransferWise multi-currency borderless account. This new account is different - and it’s designed with international people in mind. You can hold your money in any one of dozens of different currencies, and see your balance across different currencies at a glance. Then you can convert money between currencies at a fair rate, whenever you need to.
Because it’s powered by TransferWise, you’ll always get the same exchange rate that banks use when they trade currencies between themselves. That’s the rate you’d find on Google, and the only fair rate.
But, while many banks and money transfer services claim that they’ll exchange your cash for free, or for a low fee, they often don’t offer customers the real exchange rate. Their business model relies on marking up the exchange rate, and keeping the difference as profit. With TransferWise, you just pay a transparent upfront charge, for a transfer using the real exchange rate, and no nasty surprises.
You’ll be able to get a consumer debit card linked to your account too. See if you could get a better deal with a TransferWise multi-currency borderless account, today.
If you’re not sure, that TransferWise is available in your country, have a quick look at the list of countries, where it’s not available yet. Not to worry - your chances of getting the account are very good though, since it’s available in most countries.
Once you get the TransferWise borderless Balances set up, you will be able to transfer and exchange money between your balances in over 40 currencies.
The cherry on top is that you can also get local bank details for GBP, EUR, USD and AUD. That way you can receive payments like a local. This is very useful if you happen to have a business or if you receive payments regularly from one of the countries, that uses those currencies domestically.
If you’re applying for dual citizenship then you’ll want to find practical solutions to make your money work for you. Splitting your life between different countries, could mean you end up paying over the odds unnecessarily for day to day banking.
That’s where the TransferWise multi-currency borderless account comes in. Traditional banks aren’t set up to serve people who juggle life's between different countries, or who need to travel a lot. But TransferWise knows you need your money to be flexible. A borderless account lets your money move with you, with fair exchange rates and transparent fees - so you can just get on with enjoying life.
1. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/Advice-about-Possible-Loss-of-US-Nationality-Dual-Nationality/Dual-Nationality.html ( October 10, 2018 ) 2. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1094613.shtml ( October 10, 2018 ) 3. https://www.immihelp.com/nri/dual.html ( October 10, 2018 ) 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_nationality_law ( October 10, 2018 ) 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_nationality_law#Dual_nationality ( October 10, 2018 ) 6. https://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/05/143708/can-malaysians-have-dual-citizenship ( October 10, 2018 ) 7. https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/06/27/singaporeans-not-permitted-dual-nationality-but-foreigners-are/ ( October 10, 2018 ) 8. https://www.multiplecitizenship.com/wscl/ws_THAILAND.html ( October 10, 2018 ) 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emirati_nationality_law ( October 10, 2018 ) 10. https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization ( October 10, 2018 ) 11. http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1956/act/26/section/19/enacted/en/html#sec19 ( October 10, 2018 ) 12. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Renunciation-US-Nationality-Abroad.html ( October 10, 2018 ) 13. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/Advice-about-Possible-Loss-of-US-Nationality-Dual-Nationality/Loss-US-Nationality-Foreign-State.html ( October 10, 2018 ) 14. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/article/M-476.pdf ( October 10, 2018 ) 15. https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization ( October 10, 2018 )
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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