Dual citizenship or dual nationality refers to being a citizen of two countries simultaneously. We are often asked whether or not the United States will allow dual citizenship with foreign nationals of other countries. We have to start with the fact that each country has its own citizenship laws based on their particular policies. Sometimes dual citizenship occurs by choice; other times, it occurs automatically by operation of law.

To give you an example, US citizen parents may have a child born in a foreign country. That child may be a citizen of both countries. Foreign citizenship may also be acquired by marriage, or once a person becomes a naturalized citizen of the US, the person may not lose citizenship in the home country. What is important to remember is that acquiring another citizenship does not necessarily mean that there will be a loss of US citizenship.

For example, one who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing US citizenship. But, if  foreign citizenship is acquired by application, there is a risk. The key is that if the application is made voluntarily, by free choice, with the intent to give up US citizenship, then there is a chance that US citizenship will be lost.

How is intent shown? It is shown by a person’s statements or conduct. Our experience is that the US government does not encourage dual citizenship because of various potential problems, such as claims of other countries on dual citizenship holders may create a conflict with US law. Allegiance is owed to both countries, however, and the laws of both countries have to be obeyed.

In order to determine if your country permits dual citizenship, contact your home country’s consulate or embassy.