Do I Have to Give Up My Original Passport When I Become a U.S. Citizen?

Naturalizing citizens need not give up the passport of their home country, if that country allows dual citizenship.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

After you apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship, then attend your interview and receive approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the next step is to attend a swearing-in ceremony. You might have learned that, as a new U.S. citizen, you will be given a naturalization certificate at that time. With that, you will also able to apply for a U.S. passport, assuming you wish to travel outside the United States. (In fact, you might even be able to submit your passport application at the oath ceremony.)

But what does that mean for you old passport? Do you need to give it up? This article will explain why you will not, in fact, be required to give up the passport of your home country.

Doesn't the Citizenship Oath Require People to Give Up All Other Citizenships?

If you read the U.S. citizenship oath of allegiance, you'll see that it says you 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."

That sounds very much like you will be asked to give up your old passport, as well. Its language is stark; like you will be making an all-or-nothing commitment. But that is simply not the case.

The United States allows naturalized (and other) citizens to become dual citizens with their home countries, if those countries allow it. (It's not possible for everyone to retain their native country's citizenship, depending on those countries' laws). And if you're a dual citizen, you may keep your old passport and citizenship as well as receive a new one from the United States. See Dual Citizenship Allowed for Naturalizing U.S. Citizens for details.

Cautions When Traveling Outside the U.S. as a Dual Citizen

If you travel outside the U.S. as a dual citizen, you must, by law, carry your U.S. passport with you when departing, and present it to U.S. officials upon reentering. (This comes from Section 215(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or I.N.A., or 8 U.S.C. § 1185(b).) Carrying your naturalization certificate is not enough. (Not even if you combine it with your old passport from your native country, your U.S. driver's license, or anything similar.) Give yourself plenty of time to apply for the passport and get a decision before you travel, and make sure its expiration date will last long enough for your return entry

Also, if you decide to carry your old country's passport as your primary or even secondary identity document, perhaps to visit your old country, be aware that the U.S. consulate might be less inclined to help you if you get into some sort of trouble there.

Congratulations on your approval, and click here to learn more about your rights and benefits as a new U.S. citizen.

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