Dual citizenship or dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries simultaneously. Dual citizenship is possible between the United States of America and another country; however be wary of losing U.S. citizenship through acts of expatriation.
Expatriation is the act of renouncing or giving up the allegiance and residence of one’s homeland. Dual citizenship has never been illegal under U.S. law; generally the U.S. allows dual citizenship to be dictated by other countries. Dual citizenship can become problematic when the individual holds citizenship in two countries that have hostile contact with each other, countries at war with each other and do not have diplomatic ties with each other.
Dual citizenship does have advantages, yet the nature of pledging allegiances to multiple countries does bring about complications as citizenship brings about conflicting obligations. By being a citizen of two countries the person must obey the laws of both countries, which includes obligations such as military service and paying taxes.
Expatriation is defined by the US Immigration and Nationality Act, section 349, where specific voluntary actions by an individual can cause loss of U.S. citizenship. A person can lose U.S. citizenship if the person serves in a foreign nation’s military and if the person renounces U.S. citizenship, which are all voluntary acts.
A person can lose U.S. citizenship by making allegiance with another country voluntarily, yet retains their U.S. citizenship if the foreign citizenship is gained involuntarily through marriage. U.S. citizens must use their U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Note that a foreign citizen does not lose their native citizenship when naturalizing as a U.S. citizen. However, a deportable action may cause a loss of U.S. citizenship rendering the person a sole citizen of a country which the U.S. will deport the person to.
Unlike the Unites States, countries such as India, China and Nepal do not permit dual citizenship, having an automatic loss of citizenship if another citizenship is acquired voluntarily. In the case of India, the Constitution of India explicitly prevents the acquisition of dual citizenship between India and another country. India has amended the 1955 Citizenship Act by introducing overseas citizenship, which is similar to the U.S. Permanent Residency or Green Card. In fact, the political complexities between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh prevents citizens of Pakistani and Bengali origin to obtain overseas citizenship with India; which is not the case with the United States. Despite being lenient, the United States does not encourage dual citizenship while acknowledging its existence. It is because of the conflicts between different countries’ laws that the U.S. does not actively encourage dual citizenship. When an issue does arise in regards to a person’s citizenship, the citizenship of the person’s actual location determines which citizenship has a stronger claim on the person’s allegiance. Dual nationality may limit the American government’s ability to support and assist the dual national when the person is abroad; especially when the person is living in the country of their other nationality.
The above issues and many more can lead to complications between having U.S. citizenship and nationality with another country, especially non-European countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil. If procuring nationality with another nation it would in the person’s best interest to find legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney before making any final decisions.