Many people would consider becoming citizens of another country besides their birth country. Becoming a citizen of two states means simultaneously means you share the rights and responsibilities of citizens in the individual countries. Nonetheless, not all countries permit dual citizenship with the United States. If you are considering dual citizenship, understand the application process and requirements.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Also called dual nationality, dual citizenship refers to being a citizen of more than one country simultaneously. You will be legally recognized in two or more countries simultaneously if you are a dual national. Even so, there is no definitive definition of the term dual citizenship because it's interpreted differently in different countries.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Citizenship?

People apply for dual citizenship for various reasons. The benefits of having dual nationality include:

Visa-Free Travel and Work

A leading reason people apply for dual citizenship is to get a so-called "stronger passport" that permits them to travel visa-free to more countries. For instance, having an American passport in 2023 can enable you to travel visa-free to 185 countries and territories.

Unlike a foreign national, a dual national does not require a visa or permit to visit the countries where they hold citizenship. They can stay for as long as they wish and have a right to work and do business in the two nations. The same cannot be said of those with foreign citizenship. Such individuals must undergo the lengthy visa and work permit application process as required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department.

Access to Social Services

Having dual citizenship means you can access social services and other benefits and privileges each country offers to its citizens. For instance, if healthcare is free in one of the countries you're a citizen of, you can travel there for medical treatment.

Applicants can access affordable schooling and other perks just like domestic students, even if they are not permanent residents. With dual nationality, you can choose the country you want to live in and enjoy the best quality of life. You won't have to worry about your residency status in the foreign state.

Family Sponsorship

You may be able to sponsor family members to apply for dual citizenship. After acquiring American citizenship, for instance, you can sponsor your spouse to apply for a Green card through marriage. Your child automatically becomes a US citizen even if they were born in a foreign country.

Having Two Passports

Besides the freedom to travel more easily, being a dual national means you can carry passports issued by both countries. Suppose you have Mexican nationality and acquire American citizenship after marrying a US citizen. It will be easier to travel back and forth between the two countries without applying for a visa or getting questioned about the purpose of your trips. The same cannot be said of someone who only has Salvadoran citizenship. The two passports guarantee the right of entry to both countries, which can be beneficial if you need to travel frequently.

Property Ownership

Some countries restrict property ownership to citizens. Thus, it's impossible for those born in a foreign country to invest without going through legal hurdles. Dual citizenship enables you to purchase and own property in both countries. You will skirt laws that typically bar non-nationals from buying or owning property. Property ownership is an excellent option if you shuttle between the two countries frequently and want to settle in both. Dual citizenship makes it easier to own property in both countries.

Personal Wellbeing

Perhaps you are tired of the hustle and bustle in your country of origin and want to move to a quieter place. Second citizenship will be a convenient getaway to the life you desire, far removed from the lifestyle you're used to. It enables you to turn your dream destination into your home without renouncing the citizenship of your home country.

How to Get Dual Citizenship in the United States

There are several ways to acquire dual nationality in the United States and the corresponding citizenship documents. These include:


Arguably, this is the easiest way to become a dual citizen. The United States allows non-resident individuals to apply for dual nationality if their parents were born in the US. So, if you are already a citizen of another country, yet your parents were born in the United States, you can apply for US citizenship.


The United States is among the countries that grant fast-track citizenship to anyone married to a US citizen. In this case, you'll first get permanent residency status, which speeds up the citizenship application process. After acquiring US citizenship via marriage, you can still retain your birth country's citizenship, which means you'll be a dual national. A marriage visa lawyer can advise you on your options when applying for dual US citizenship via marriage.


Individuals who have moved to the United States via a Green card can apply for citizenship via naturalization. However, they must first establish whether their country of origin recognizes dual citizenship and the rules surrounding it.

The waiting period for citizenship through the naturalization process is three to five years after obtaining a Green card. Thereafter, an applicant must fill out and submit Form N-400 or the Application for Naturalization form. If they meet the dual citizenship rules and requirements, they'll receive US citizenship, making them dual nationals.

Does the United States Allow Dual Citizenship?

The United States allows dual citizenship. However, the applicant's country of origin must allow dual citizenship. If that doesn't happen, and you still want to become a US citizen, you must cede your country of origin's citizenship. The United States permits its nationals to acquire dual nationality, just like it allows citizens of other countries to gain American citizenship.

If you're a naturalized citizen, you won't have to give up your country of origin's citizenship. According to the US Supreme Court, people can hold and exercise the rights of nationality in more than one country. Nonetheless, some countries don't recognize their citizens' status as naturalized US citizens. For instance, New Zealand, Italy, and Canada recognize dual nationality, while China doesn't.

If you come from a country that doesn't recognize dual nationality, you will lose your citizenship status automatically when you become a naturalized American. Therefore, check your country of origin's citizenship laws when looking to become a dual US citizen.

When Should I Apply for Dual Citizenship?

Becoming a dual citizen of the United States and another country means you can live and work in either country and share similar rights as both countries' citizens. Unlike most immigration visas, which typically get availed at specific times of the year, you can apply for US citizenship through marriage or naturalization. You only need to meet the eligibility requirements to become a naturalized American. Generally, you can apply for dual citizenship in the United States three to five years after receiving a Green card.

Obligations of Dual Citizens in the United States

Being a dual citizen of the United States and another country accords you the same rights and privileges as American-born citizens. Nonetheless, you must follow certain obligations. For starters, dual nationals must owe allegiance to the US and their country of origin. They need to observe both countries' laws, and either can enforce its laws as it deems fit.

You must register with the citizen and immigration services department if you travel or decide to live in another country after obtaining US citizenship. It's also obligatory to have your American passport with you whenever you travel outside the country.

Dual citizens, either by naturalization or birth, must speak basic English and pay federal income and other taxes even if they earn an income outside the US. Another obligation is that they must report previous encounters with law enforcement agencies. They must also defend the country when called upon, and perform jury service or a similar nationality act when required.

Once you become a dual US citizen, you must always use your American passport to enter and leave the United States. Also, you may be required by the other country whose citizenship you hold to enter and leave its territory using its passport. Using a passport issued by a foreign state to travel to and from other countries other than the US is inconsistent with American law.

You must meet these obligations even if you live outside the US. Remember that being a dual US national means you have twice as many obligations as an individual with only one nationality. For instance, you'll need to pay taxes in both countries even if you don't actively reside in both. Likewise, you may undergo mandatory military service if your country of origin requires so.

Because dual nationals pay allegiance to both countries, other countries' claims upon dual nationals of the US can place them in difficult situations. That's particularly the case when the obligations to one country conflict with the other's laws. Furthermore, dual nationality can hamper the United States government's efforts to provide consular protection when they're abroad, more so in the country of their second nationality.

Rights Of Dual Citizens in The United States

Being a US citizen means you hold the rights of an American-born citizen. These include:

Right to Work Anywhere

After obtaining dual US citizenship through marriage, you can live and work anywhere in the United States without requiring a multi-entry permanent visa. Nonetheless, you may get overlooked for some federal jobs, especially those that require security clearances.

Unrestricted Travel

With United States citizenship, you can travel abroad for as long as possible without losing your citizenship status. Unlike when you get Green cards, you won't need to apply for a re-entry permit if you intend to live outside the US for more than a year.

You Can Vote

Dual US citizens can vote in both countries. So, if you hold American and Canadian citizenship, you can vote in all US elections. Only US citizens, and not those with permanent residence can vote in federal elections. You can also vie for public office as a dual national.

Right to Education

Access to higher-quality education is a factor in why many people seek to become dual US citizens. It enables them to attend school in the US without requiring a student visa or paying the high tuition fees international students get charged. They can qualify for tuition assistance and similar programs that are only available to those with US citizenship.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the US allow dual citizenship?

Yes, the US allows its citizens to have citizenship of other countries simultaneously. Citizens of other countries can apply for US citizenship if they qualify through birth or naturalization. It's best to remember that certain obligations come with being a dual citizen of the US, including double taxation even if you don't reside in the country. An attorney at an immigration law firm can explain your obligations when you mention dual nationality.

Why is dual citizenship bad?

The major drawbacks of dual nationality are the potential of double taxation and getting bound by the laws of the two countries. Furthermore, becoming a dual US citizen can be a long and expensive process, especially if you don't have an immigration lawyer to guide you. Your application can also get denied if you don't follow the requirements outlined in the country's immigration law.

Does being a dual citizen give you access to more job opportunities?

Yes, as a dual American citizen, you can live and work in both the United States and the second country without requiring employment visas and work permits. It opens you up to a wider pool of jobs. Having dual citizenship opens up more opportunities than what would be available if you only had your birth country's citizenship.

What kind of people have dual citizenship?

Naturalized foreign nationals who want to live, study, work, or do business in their host country prefer dual nationality. An overseas citizen whose parents were born in another country may also prefer dual nationality.