Can I Move Abroad After Becoming a Naturalized U.S. Citizen?

At this time, no penalties exist if a naturalized U.S. citizen simply goes to live in another country. But if the person also takes certain other actions, citizenship can be lost.

After being sworn in as a new U.S. citizen, one of the first things you might want to do is enjoy the ease with which you can travel overseas and return. Or perhaps you want to go one step farther and actually move back to your childhood home country or some other place. (Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some new citizens have felt it would be safer to live in a country with stricter controls.)

If you did move abroad, would you then risk giving up your U.S. citizenship? This article provides some background and some reassurance. Only in rare situations would a U.S. citizen who moves to another country lose U.S. citizenship.

In the Past, One Could Lose U.S. Citizenship By Moving Overseas

Prior to 1994, the analysis presented in this article might have been different. Back then, a person who became a naturalized U.S. citizen was expected to hold the intention of residing permanently in the United States. This was written into Section 340 of the Immigration and Nationality Act or I.N.A.; but the language was removed in 1994, within Section 104 of the Technical Corrections Act.

What's more, back before 1994, if a person moved permanently to another country within one year of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, this was taken as "prima facie" evidence of the person's lack of intention to live in the United States. The move thus became grounds for the U.S. government to "denaturalize" the person, or take away his or her citizenship.

No Longer Can One Lose U.S. Citizenship By Living in Another Country

At this time, no penalties exist if a naturalized U.S. citizen simply goes to live in another country. This is a distinct benefit of U.S. citizenship, since green card holders can have their status taken away for "abandoning" their U.S. residence.

In What Ways Can Naturalized U.S. Citizenship Be Lost?

If a naturalized citizen takes certain other actions while living abroad, such as joining a foreign military, committing treason against the U.S., or taking on a new citizenship, his or her U.S. citizenship can be lost. This is further described in, Can Naturalized U.S. Citizen Lose Citizenship by Living in Another Country?

A naturalized citizen would also, when living overseas, need to continue complying with U.S. laws affecting U.S. citizens, particularly regarding taxation. See Overseas American Citizens: When You Need to File a Tax Return or Pay U.S. Taxes for more information, and talk to an attorney or tax professional for a full personal analysis.

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