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What Is A Dual National?

Many people are under the impression that most governments do not allow their citizens to be nationals of more than one country. Some countries, such as Germany and Japan, have strict requirements, especially regarding naturalization. But for the most part, while no country actually encourages dual citizenship, many tolerate it. Israel provides Jews around the world with the “right of return,” which means that they can come to Israel and assume Israeli citizenship without going through a naturalization process. In Australia, naturalized citizens may maintain the nationality of their native country, which gives them dual citizenship. Native-born Australians, however, cannot become dual citizens of another country without giving up their Australian citizenship. (There is a strong lobbying effort going on in Australia to rescind this law.)

The United States does not prohibit dual nationality. The State Department recognizes that U. S. citizens can acquire the citizenship of another country through marriage, for instance, or that naturalized U. S. citizens may not automatically lose their native country’s citizenship. In fact, a U. S. citizen does not automatically relinquish his or her citizenship by acquiring another. Losing one’s U. S. citizenship requires a formal renunciation and proof that the individual is making that decision freely and voluntarily.

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