If a person has dual citizenship, they are citizens of two countries simultaneously. However, it’s a complex legal status that comes with some advantages and disadvantages.
We’ll discuss these benefits and challenges, how you can become a dual citizen in the US, and more—keep reading to learn all about dual citizenship.
Related: An Easy Guide to Dual Citizenship
What Is Dual Citizenship?
Not every country allows dual citizenship, but the US does, and it can even happen automatically in some situations—like when a child is born in the US, but their parents are residents of a foreign country. In a case like that, the child would become a US citizen and inherit citizenship from their parents (unless the child’s parents are foreign diplomats).
Likewise, children of US citizens born overseas may automatically become US citizens and citizens of their country of birth, depending on that country’s laws.
You can also achieve dual citizenship through specialized legal processes. For example, when someone goes through the naturalization process to become a US citizen—they would become a citizen of their home country and the US (as long as their home country allows dual citizenship).
Applying for dual citizenship isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated—schedule your consultation with Orange County’s top immigration attorney today.
Advantages of Having Dual Citizenship
Dual citizenship can offer many advantages, including:
Work and Travel
Unlike foreign nationals, dual citizens do not need a permit or visa to visit the countries in which they have citizenship. They can also stay as long as they like and work in both countries, while a foreigner would have to pass through a lengthy process to obtain a work permit.
Dual citizens can also carry their passports from both countries, allowing them to more easily travel between the two. A citizen’s passport allows travelers to avoid questions about their trip’s purpose during the customs process and eliminates the need for long-stay visas.
Having two passports also guarantees the person the right of entry into both countries, which is especially beneficial for people with family in multiple countries or ones that study or conduct business in both countries.
A dual citizen can get the benefits of being exposed to and immersed in the culture of both countries. In addition, some government officials use dual citizenship to help promote their country as a prime tourist destination. Dual citizenship offers individuals an opportunity to learn about multiple countries’ histories, languages, ways of life, etc.
Dual citizens can legally participate in the political life of both countries where they have citizenship. These rights include donating to political candidates, the ability to vote and stand in elections, etc.
Another advantage of dual citizenship is receiving the privileges and benefits offered by each country where you have citizenship. For example, you can typically receive an education without paying extra tuition and pay the same price as domestic students. Or, you can travel to receive medical procedures or treatments that may not be available in one country or cost significantly more.
Finally, dual citizenship brings with it the ability to own property in both countries—many countries only allow citizens to own land. Property ownership is a significant benefit for people who plan to travel frequently between two countries, making it a much more economical way to live in two different places.
Challenges of Dual Citizenship
There are some unique challenges of holding multiple citizenships, including:
If you have dual citizenship in the US and another country, you are responsible for paying US taxes on your income—regardless of where you earned it. So if you live in your country of dual residence that’s not the US, you may owe taxes to the country in which you earned the income and to the US government.
However, some countries had income tax treaties with the US to eliminate or reduce an individual’s tax liability to avoid double taxation. But you’ll likely still have to file a US tax return. International taxation is a complex field and we highly recommend consulting with an international tax professional to obtain an individualized evaluation of your case.
Barriers to Entry
Not only is the process of obtaining dual citizenship complicated (unless you’re in a situation where it happens automatically, as we discussed above), it can take many years, be extremely expensive, and present some barriers to some forms of employment.
Dual citizenship can be a disadvantage for people on specific career paths. For example, if your job requires you to have access to classified information or you want to work with the US government, having dual citizenship can bar you from getting the security clearance you need for employment.
However, those born into dual citizenship typically encounter fewer of these problems than those who sought it out.
What Is the Process for Dual Citizenship in the US?
If you weren’t born in the US but would like to become a US citizen, dual citizenship comes with many requirements. In addition, those requirements differ based on your other country of residence and your specific circumstances.
Generally, to apply for US citizenship, you need to have lived as a permanent resident (by obtaining a green card) in the country continuously for a number of years. There are various additional requirements depending on the path you take to citizenship.
To apply for citizenship through naturalization you will need to pay a fee and file a naturalization application Form N-400. Currently, in Jan 2023, the fee for naturalization is $725 however this is subject to change.
Gaining citizenship is a complicated process, and most people require the help of an immigration attorney to help them achieve citizenship.
Choosing the right immigration lawyer can mean the difference between obtaining citizenship and having to reapply—reach out to our experienced immigration attorneys today.
Is Dual Citizenship Right for You?
Achieving dual citizenship offers many advantages, giving individuals the privileges and rights that come with citizenship in multiple countries. They can also travel freely between those countries, own property, do business, work, and participate in other activities that are restricted to people with citizenship.
However, it has some challenges, too, and the process is complicated if you try to obtain dual citizenship without hiring an immigration lawyer.
Have more questions about dual citizenship? Get answers here.
Related: How Much Does US Citizenship Cost?