Do I have to take a different oath of allegiance if I plan to be a dual citizen with the U.S.?

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Question:

I am scheduled to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a few weeks. I have read that, since my home country (the U.K.) allows it, I can maintain dual citizenship with it and the United States. But I am looking over the citizenship oath that I will need to take, and it says that I must promise to “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.” I feel like I will be lying if I take that oath when I am planning to maintain dual citizenship! Is there some alternate oath I can take?

Answer:

It is difficult to believe, but under U.S. law, the citizenship oath taken by people who are naturalizing is not considered to be a bar to retaining the citizenship of your home country (or being a “dual citizen”) – and therefore you need not look for an alternate version of the oath.

The U.S. State Department, for example, states that “U.S. law does not . . . require a person to choose one citizenship or another.” And the Supreme Court case once declared that “the concept of dual citizenship recognizes that a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact that he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not, without more, mean that he renounces the other…” (See Kawasita v United States, 343 US 717, 753(1952).)

U.S. courts making decisions about immigration law are increasingly specifying that the only ways in which a dual citizen can lose U.S. citizenship is by that person’s choice. (There are other ways in which one can lose U.S. citizen status, such as by committing treason, but we’re talking here solely about situations where a dual citizen worries that it’s impossible to avoid cutting off one citizenship in order to keep the other.)

So the short answer to your question is that you can take the oath as it stands, in good faith, even while planning to retain your original citizenship.

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