If a foreign national holding citizenship of another country applies for and becomes a US Citizen, what are the rules surrounding citizenship of country X?

  • Can still holding that citizenship prevent US citizenship from being acquired?
  • Are you required to renounce it?
  • Do you become a dual citizen?


  • the question came out of discussion in comments on linked question
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:38
  • Isn't this more of a question for the law site? Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:49
  • @DavidGrinberg - i can see benefits of posting it on either.
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 22:06
  • @DavidGrinberg - and, at this point, there's no effective difference. ohwilleke will answer on either site, with great detail as usual :)
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 1:52

2 Answers 2


Gaining and losing citizenship is covered by the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The act does not require that a naturalized citizen revoke their previous citizenship. However, it does require the an oath of allegiance and revocation of allegiance to other powers:

[The oath-bearer will] renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which the applicant was before a subject or citizen

The Department of State website confirms that this does not constitute revoking your citizenship. However, the policies of the other country may differ and any applicant should check with the laws of their home country as well.

  • 2
    "The Department of State website confirms that this does not constitute revoking your citizenship." What constitutes loss of another country's citizenship has absolutely nothing to do with what the US says -- it is solely determined by that country's law. The only way the US might play a role is whether to require a person actively apply to renounce that country's citizenship as a condition of naturalization (and the US doesn't require it).
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 0:45
  • @user102008 - That is all addressed in the answer already. The last sentence is clear that the laws of other countries still apply and you should check with them. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 14:00
  • 2
    It's not "the laws of other countries still apply" -- the law of the country of nationality is the only thing that matters at all.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:29
  • @user102008 - Vote your conscience I guess. I don't agree with that conclusion. I would agree that the US couldn't actually drop the citizenship of country X, it could be influential in many other ways that do matter. So the testimony of the Dept. of State does matter, and the caveat that the laws of the originating country apply is reasonable. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:48

Clarifying some points that @indigochild doesn't address.

Any lawful permanent resident who has been in the United States with lawful permanent resident status long enough, who completes the application and passes certain tests, and is not disqualified by factors that don't include nationality can become a U.S. citizen.

Also, often the naturalization of an adult will automatically lead to the naturalization of their minor children without the same formal requirements for eligibility. Minors who become citizens in this way don't generally have to take an oath and are an important source of dual-citizens. (Another common path to dual citizenship involves having U.S. citizenship by virtue of being born in the United States, and non-U.S. citizenship by virtue of having a parent who is not a U.S. citizen when you are born.)

  • "By virtue of having a parent who is not a U.S. citizen when you are born": for most countries, the parent's US citizenship isn't relevant; it's whether the parent holds that country's citizenship. So the child of a Dutch-US dual national will generally have both Dutch and US citizenship from birth. If born, for example, in Canada, such a child could be a citizen of all three countries.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:20
  • @phoog Fair enough. That is a much more complicated scenario that I was contemplating and I would suspect, not all that common.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 5:40
  • Indeed, the dual citizen having a child in a third country is probably uncommon, but as more countries relax restrictions on dual nationality, dual citizens having children is increasingly common. My wife and I are both dual citizens, but we have no nationality in common. Our child would have four or five nationalities depending on the place of birth.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:03

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