Permanent residents of California who were born in another country have three options when it comes to citizenship: 1) retention of their native citizenship; 2) naturalization to become a U.S. citizen; and 3) dual citizenship to gain U.S. citizenship while retaining citizenship in their native country.
Many immigrants fall in love with our culture and way of life and wish to assimilate into it. Others prefer to retain their own cultural identity, language and other aspects of their home country. Still others decide to take the middle ground and apply for dual citizenship.
Dual citizenship advantages
One of the greatest advantages of dual citizenship is the fact that people who have it get to avail themselves of the opportunities available in both countries. For example, they get to work in both countries without restriction. They can vote and own property in both countries, obtain governmental benefits from both, and choose to attain a higher education in either country while paying citizenship rates for tuition.
Dual citizens hold a passport from both countries, which can make international travel much easier. When asked for identification, they can present the passport they think is most advantageous. In addition, should they run into problems, they can appeal to the embassy or consulate of either or both countries of which they are a citizen.
Dual citizenship disadvantages
With advantages, however, come disadvantages. Children born in the United States to foreign parents automatically have dual citizenship. Everyone else must apply for it. Foreign-born U.S. residents must live here for at least five years before applying for American citizenship in addition to their own. A foreign-born spouse of a U.S. citizen, however, need live here for only three years.
Another disadvantage is double taxation. Dual citizens must pay income taxes to both countries, regardless of where they earned the income on which the taxes are based.
Dual citizens are usually bound by the citizenship they claimed when entering a country. For example a dual national who enters a country as a citizen of one country needs to keep the same nationality until they exit the country. Also United States citizens are required to enter the United States as United States citizens and in general should not use their other nationality while in the country.
Should a foreign-born dual citizen wish to pursue a career in American politics or government, (s)he needs to be aware that obtaining a security clearance, especially at the higher levels, could be a problem. In addition, per our Constitution, no foreign-born person may accede to the office of President of the United States, regardless of his or her education, qualifications or fitness to serve.
Anyone considering becoming a dual citizen should carefully weigh the pros and cons before embarking down this path. It may or may not be the best solution for any given person.
If you are ready to become a United States citizen contact our office for assistance.