Archive for the ‘Citizenship’ Category

The term Dual citizenship means an individual is a citizen of two countries at the same time. It is also possible for one to be a citizen of three or more countries. However, what should be noted is that all countries have their own laws regarding multiple citizenship. There are countries that allow it and others do not and there are some countries that do not have any particular laws regarding this.

Dual citizenship with America

Dual citizenship is not something that can be applied for but it happens when a person becomes a citizen of another country apart form his/her country of birth. Some persons are entitled for multiple citizenship automatically. For example, if a child is born in the US gets dual citizenship as the child automatically becomes a citizen of the US and also a citizen of the child’s parent’s home country. Similarly, children of US citizens born abroad become dual citizens where the child becomes both a US citizen and a citizen of the country where he/she was born.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does not clearly define dual citizenship. It neither takes a strong position for or against it. Though there are no restrictions against such citizenship, some provisions under the INA and earlier US immigration laws were framed in such a way that it reduces situations in which dual citizenship exists. It is a mandatory practice for persons getting naturalized to undertake an oath renouncing previous allegiances to other countries. However, the oath has never been enforced for the actual termination of the individuals original citizenship.

The US does not endorse dual citizenship, but it recognizes its existence and accepts the maintenance of multiple citizenship by its citizens. Earlier, there were claims of other countries on dual-national American citizens that sometimes put them in a situation where their obligations to one country were conflicting with the laws of the other country. However, as fewer countries need military service and most base other obligations, as payment of taxes, mainly on residence and not citizenship, such conflicts have come down significantly. Off late, there is an increase in the number of persons who maintain their US citizenship in another country.

If you become a citizen of another country, the US will no longer consider you as its citizen. But it does not mean that it is same the other way around. If you are a citizen of another country and become a US citizen, depending on the laws of your country, that country may still recognize you as a citizen.

As mentioned earlier, not all countries allow dual citizenship. If you are from a country that allows dual citizenship with the US and similarly the other way round, you can become a US citizen through the naturalization process by filing the US citizenship application, Form N-400 with the USCIS.


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One of the important requirements while applying for US citizenship is that you should be a person of good moral character. You will not considered to be of “good moral character” if you had committed certain crimes during the last five years before you file the citizenship application. It also implies that you should not lie during your naturalization interview.

Some of the behaviors that indicate lack of good moral character are

• Drunk driving or being drunk most of the time.

• Illegal gambling.

• Prostitution.

• Telling lies to get immigration benefits.

• Not paying court-ordered child support.

• Committing terrorist acts.

• Persecuting someone due race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group reasons.

Remember if you have committed certain specific crimes, you cannot apply for citizenship and also you might most likely be removed from the US. These crimes are known as “bars” to naturalization. Aggravated felonies (if committed on or after November 29, 1990) are murder, rape, sexually abusing a child, violent assault, treason, illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people fall under permanent bars to naturalization. Also note that in many instances, if you were exempted or discharged from serving in the US Armed Forces because you were an immigrant or if you deserted from the US Armed Forces, you might be permanently barred from Citizenship. Behaving in other ways that indicate you lack good moral character will also lead to denial of citizenship. Other crimes come under temporary bars to the naturalization process. Such crimes generally will prevent you from becoming a citizen for up to five years after you committed the crime.

While applying for US citizenship, it is very important that you report any crime that you committed. Even if the crime was removed from your record or committed before your 18th birthday, you have to report that. If you try hiding such information with the USCIS, they might deny citizenship and most importantly you could be prosecuted. So ensure that you are transparent with any information.

If you need assistance with any immigration issue, you can avail the services of a licensed immigration lawyer. Contact the local bar association to get a qualified lawyer. Some states also certify specialists in US immigration law. Anyhow, you have to take the responsibility to determine whether to hire a particular attorney. If you are looking for legal help on an immigration issue, but you can afford to pay to hire a lawyer, there are some low cost or free assistance options.

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There are advantages and disadvantages to dual citizenship. The advantages are as follows:

  1. A dual passport brings in financial advantages.
  2. Processing a dual passport is easier and takes lesser time than the normal visa and passport.
  3. Business people find this easier to invest in real estate in that country.
  4. Investment in both countries helps them in the two-way income they are able to get.
  5. A dual citizen is mostly bilingual, so he or she is an asset to the company they work for.
  6. People get multiple opportunities to showcase their talents in both countries.

However, there are disadvantages too. They have to be viewed with regard to the merits so as to weigh both sides equally.

  1. Each country has its own set of legal transactions, so if a person of dual citizenship is found guilty of crime the country is uncertain as to which laws he or she should be punished with. This uncertainty will be magnified in case of serious crime or fraud.
  2. Another issue is whether the state should give them equal rights with regard to political and social cases.
  3. Some people argue that dual citizenship could threaten the politics of the country. National security could be threatened when people find this an easy path to cross borders. This could also lead to illegal immigration.
  4. If a dual citizen is participating in the military training or war, it is difficult as to what job should be assigned to him as the uncertainty in this situation is that he or she may quit voluntarily and go back to their country with the intent of returning after the war is over. For such breach of national trust what can be done, is a debatable issue.

Dual citizenship is an ongoing debate and every one including immigration law makers have different views on it. It is successful in many countries especially the liberalized economies.


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Through the Federal Register, the State Department announced new consular fees. It includes fee changes that was proposed in 2010. Persons renouncing US citizenship will be paying a $450 fee. Earlier, there was no fee involved while renouncing American citizenship. The State Department did not cite any reasons for the dramatic rise in the fee nor has it mentioned any reason for why it changed the fees.

One who wishes to formally renouncing his/her US citizenship has to take an Oath of renunciation. One of the main reasons for renouncing US citizenship is because he/she adopts citizenship in a country that does not allow dual citizenship. Foreign nationals who wish to become naturalized citizens normally spend hundreds of dollars, first to get a green card and then while filing for naturalization.

Per the new fee schedule posted through the Federal Register, other citizenship oriented costs are also rising. The cost of applying for a new passport will be $70. The security surcharge for US passports has increased to $40 from $20. Adding to this, if you want to add new pages to your US passport book, you have to shell out $82. Earlier, there was no fee involved with this service. However, the State Department justifies the hike by mentioning this hike is needed due to increasing the cost of labor to affix the pages, endorse the passport, print the pages, processing the application, and to also to perform a quality-control check.

If you are registering the birth of an American child abroad, you will be paying a higher fee this time. This is another citizenship related fee change. Earlier, while reporting such a birth abroad, you had to pay $65, but now it has risen to $100 to report the birth of an American child abroad. In addition, if you are notarizing documents at US embassies, you have to pay more. Earlier, the cost of notarizing a single page at a US embassy overseas was $30. Per the Federal Register, this service now costs $50 per single page. All said and done, one should not forget the privileges and benefits of American citizenship. But the new fee schedule has thrown a higher cost on many citizenship related services.


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Per the law, US Federal courts can administer the oath of allegiance. However, there are certain courts that have waived this privilege and permit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to administer the oath of allegiance. If a court administers the oath of allegiance, it is called a judicial ceremony. Whereas, an oath administered by USCIS is called an administrative ceremony.

You will be subject to a judicial ceremony if you reside in a place that is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the court. Depending on where one lives, different applicants will have different types of ceremonies as USCIS field offices often service more than one state or more than one court district. For instance, the Washington Field Office services the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia as well. If you reside in DC, you will have a judicial ceremony, whereas, if you are from Virginia, you may have an administrative ceremony.

If you want to change your name while filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you have to indicate it on your form. In this case you will have a judicial ceremony. Your name change has to be approved by a judge. So it is evident that your name change will be changed at a judicial ceremony. USCIS Offices that conduct administrative ceremonies may have same-day naturalization ceremonies. The field office web pages will have information about which offices have same-day ceremonies.

Also note that you might have a judicial ceremony even if you do not live in an area under the jurisdiction of the court if it is a special ceremony or if it is easier to schedule you for a judicial ceremony. Likewise, you might have an administrative ceremony in some cases if you are not changing your name and the court has waived its privilege to administer the oath or under special circumstances.
Remember cannot administer the oath of allegiance in certain military naturalization cases.

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Immigrants in the Military

Every year, approximately there are 8,000 non citizens who get enlisted in the military. Per a February 2008 data released by the Department of Defense, more than 65,000 immigrants (non citizens and naturalized citizens) were on active duty in the US Armed Forces. This is around 5% of all active-duty personnel. Philippines and Mexico are the top two countries of origin for foreign-born military personnel in the US. Hispanics constitute around 11 percent of those serving in the armed forces. Non citizens have fought in the US Armed forces since the Revolutionary War. Foreign born residents formed half of all US military recruits during the 1840s and 20 percent of the 1.5 million members in the Union Army during the Civil War.

There are more benefits for the Military with the service of its foreign-born individuals. Non-citizens’ contribution needs mention. Per available statistics, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic non citizens, having served for a minimum of three months are 10 percent less likely to leave the service than citizens. In addition, non-citizens having served for at least 36 months are 9 to 20 percent less likely to leave the service than citizens. Non citizen members of the US armed forces are now eligible for expedited citizenship. The USCIS conducts naturalization interviews and ceremonies for foreign-born US armed forces members serving at military bases overseas. Since September 2001, more than 37,250 foreign-born members of the armed forces were naturalized and 111 service members were granted posthumous citizenship.

Per February 2008 records, there were 65,033 foreign-born persons on active duty in the US military (includes both naturalized citizens and non citizens). Note that more than two-thirds of the foreign born persons serving in the armed forces are naturalized citizens. The 44,705 members of the US armed forces who were naturalized citizens make 68.7 percent of the 65,033 foreign-born serving in US military. The 20,328 non citizen members constitute 31.3 percent.

Foreign born individuals were 4.8 percent of the 1.36 million active-duty personnel in the armed forces. The Navy consisted of 26,597 foreign-born individuals making up 40.9 percent of the total foreign-born population. There were also 14,896 foreign-born individuals (22.9 percent) in the army, 13,436 (20.7 percent) in the air force, and 10,104 (15.5 percent) in the marines. Foreign-born individuals constituted 8.1 percent of the 327,680 navy personnel as of February 2008. The foreign born individuals were 5.4 percent of the 188,511 men and women serving in the marines, 4.1 percent of the 324,881 individuals in the air force, and 2.9 percent of the 520,386 individuals in the army.

There were 1,182 foreign-born women serving in the US armed forces, making it 17.2 percent of all foreign born in the military. The Philippines, with 22.8 percent was the largest percentage of the foreign born in the armed forces. Latin America and the Caribbean were the largest percentage of the foreign born individuals, followed closely by Asia. All these records are per the one released in February 2008.

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