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Any immigration experts in the house?
January 21, 2004 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Any immigration experts in the house?

I am a Norwegian citizen with a permanent residence (green) card. I have decided to stay in the US indefinitely and am thinking of becoming a US citizen; however, it is important to me that my (planned) children have dual citizenship, and they'll only have that as long as I remain a Norwegian citizen.

So I'm trying to figure out the benefits to becoming a citizen besides just being able to vote. Am I entitled to greater financial benefits (such as Medicare/Medicaid etc)? Does it make a difference how long you've been a citizen when it's time to receive the benefits?
posted by widdershins to Law & Government (21 answers total)
 
I am not an expert, but I have experienced some of the process.

Here's one answer to the last part of your question.
posted by normy at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2004


The benefits you may be able to receive as a U.S. citizen will not come close to the benefits you would receive as a Norwegian.

I don't know a lot about immigration, but I'm having an immigration lawyer come visit me this weekend. If you don't get the answers you're looking for from others in this forum, please feel free to reap my e-mail address from my profile and ask me personally. I'll do my best to get you an answer.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:46 AM on January 21, 2004


Ah ha... thought I had this somewhere... Dual Citizenship FAQ.
posted by normy at 10:48 AM on January 21, 2004


Unless Norway makes you, you don't have to renounce your Norwegian citizenship - you can have dual citizenship (2 passports and the whole works). My S.O. is from Sweden and is in the same position as you -- once he starts applying for citizenship, he plans to retain both.

As to benefits, the only one I know of is voting. And if you're like most Americans, you'll waive that right anyway :)
posted by j at 10:49 AM on January 21, 2004


Unless Norway doesn't allow dual citizenship, I don't think there's any reason you can't have both US and Norwegian citizenship. The US may not recognize your Norwegian citizenship, but as far as I know that doesn't mean you have to renounce it.
posted by biscotti at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2004


Sorry, should have made that clear: Norway does not allow dual citizenship. That would have been my first choice. As it is, my children would only have dual citizenship until they're 18, at which point they have to pick one.
posted by widdershins at 10:58 AM on January 21, 2004


Ah. In that case, I wouldn't become a citizen (I'm a Canadian living in the US, so I can have dual citizenship, but I wouldn't give up my Canadian citizenship if Canada didn't allow dual). I suppose there's always the risk that you could get deported and never allowed to return or something, but if it's really important to you that your kids have Norwegian citizenship for their first 18 years, then I don't see any really compelling reason to become a US citizen, myself.
posted by biscotti at 11:13 AM on January 21, 2004


If I understand correctly, if you naturalize in the US, your children will have a choice of citizenship between the US and Norway, when they become 18. If you do not naturalize, your children will be Norwegian citzens - no choice.

Assuming that Natuarilization is the best choice for you, why not naturalize and let them choose? Who knows what they might want or be best in >18 years time? Furthermore, if you do not naturalize but remain in the US and your children grow up in America (but legally Norwegian), they will have to apply for naturalization upon becomming adult, if they wish to be US citizens, rather than being citizens all along.

I should stress this is a simplistic assesment and I remain a non-expert. You might want to speak to an immigration lawyer.
posted by normy at 11:30 AM on January 21, 2004


normy, thank you for the links. The second one was very helpful.

croutonsupafreak, I think I will take you up on your kind offer. I'll email you.

I would still love to hear more about the social/financial benefits of being a US citizen, if anyone knows. I pay taxes (including social security) like everyone else and want to be able to benefit from them when the time comes.

normy, on preview: I am fairly certain that my children, being born on US soil to a permanent resident, would qualify for dual citizenship. I am doublechecking that now. If not, I would definitely be naturalized. They will also be adopted by my US partner, so the US citizenship isn't the issue, the Norwegian one is.

Thank you all for your help and keep it coming ~
posted by widdershins at 11:38 AM on January 21, 2004


If you do not naturalize, your children will be Norwegian citzens - no choice.

INCORRECT.

ius soli -- you're a citizen of the country you were born in. the US follows this principle also.

stay norwegian. your kids will have the option to become american when they turn 18...they'll be dual citizens until then. and it'll let them easily immigrate to the EU if they're norwegian citizens, correct? along with hold jobs there, etc....it's a boon if they're europhiles.
posted by taumeson at 11:38 AM on January 21, 2004


... which... having engaged my brain a little more, is effectively the corollary of what biscotti just said.

Either way, I'm not sure there's any major problem for your children. If they want US citizenship, they'll have it or should be able to get it.
posted by normy at 11:39 AM on January 21, 2004


no choice

taumeson is right to correct me - they have a choice when they become adult - if you choose to remain Norwegian.
posted by normy at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2004


As a supplimentary question (that's not breaking etiquette, is it?), I'm wondering why Norway (and some other European nations) take this inflexible position?
posted by normy at 11:54 AM on January 21, 2004


I wish I knew why Norway, home to less than 5 million people, is so black-and-white on this, but I don't. Possibly because Norwegian citizens enjoy phenomenal social benefits and it would be too costly to provide them to people who don't pay taxes for them? If so, I can't say I blame them.

Thank you, everyone, for your help.
posted by widdershins at 2:33 PM on January 21, 2004


I would still love to hear more about the social/financial benefits of being a US citizen, if anyone knows.

Few and far between. If you naturalized, you would:

*Never have to deal with INS/BCIS again as long as you live.
*Be undeportable. Even permanent residents can be deported for felonies and such.
*Be able to get a few more jobs, or more security clearances.
*Be able to vote and run for office.

Aren't permanent residents eligible for social security and medicare (unless they exempted out by treaty, but then they don't pay)?

normy, on preview: I am fairly certain that my children, being born on US soil to a permanent resident, would qualify for dual citizenship.

Being born in the US is enough, period. Whether you're a permanent resident, on a student visa, illegal, or anything else. The only exceptions are rare classes of people related to ambassadors who aren't under the jurisdiction of the US.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 PM on January 21, 2004


widdershins, what exactly happens when your kids turn 18?

Do they just have to go somewhere Norwegian, like a consulate or embassy, and say "I CHOOSE YOU, NORWAY!"? And that's it, and if they happen to *ahem* remain US citizens under the table, as it were, they'll be none the wiser?

Or is Norway going to check up and see if they've actually gone through the complicated and lengthy process of renouncing US citizenship to a US consular official?

As a supplimentary question (that's not breaking etiquette, is it?), I'm wondering why Norway (and some other European nations) take this inflexible position?

Makes little sense to me. At least until recently, Mexico also wouldn't allow dual citizenship, and rights to own land in Mexico are are linked to citizenship, so lots and lots (ie, millions) of people who could otherwise just be dual nationals have to keep dealing with the INS, and so do their kids, and so on. Freedom-crushing, all of it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:45 PM on January 21, 2004


ROU_Xenophobe: The only thing I can think of to add to your list is

*Be called for jury duty.

...although not everyone necessarily considers that a benefit.

There's also some differences between citizens and residents in the way certain taxes are handled (inheritance tax, in particular, I've vaguely heard of) - definitely 'consult a lawyer' territory.
posted by normy at 6:28 PM on January 21, 2004


It may also be worthwhile to look at exceptions under which Norway might allow dual citizenship. Many countries which seem black and white on this do also allow for exceptions.

I mention this also because a friend of mine, born in the US of american parents, was able to get a German passport based on the fact that her german (jewish) ancestors were "unceremoniously" kicked out of germany in the 1930's. Now she is a dual citizen.
posted by vacapinta at 6:45 PM on January 21, 2004


taumeson - nope, Norway is not part of the EU. The kids will however have the avantage of legally moving to another Scandinavian country (and work) easily as we have inter-nordic immigration rules. Then they can move into the EU, so it can still work out. ;)
posted by dabitch at 5:12 AM on January 22, 2004


taumeson/dabitch - no, Norway is not part of the EU (European Union), but it is part of the EEC (European Economic Community), which means that Norwegian citizens can indeed live and work anywhere in the EU. I've done it several times.

vacapinta - I've checked and I'm definitely not eligible for dual - no exceptions apply, unfortunately.

ROU, you've hit on a really interesting point. At this point there is no formal 'communication' between Norway and the US regarding renouncing of citizenship. Which means that a Norwegian citizen could in theory become a US citizen and just not notify Norway. So at 18 the child could basically tell both countries that s/he's choosing citizenship with them, without their knowing about it. Not that I would dream of doing such a thing, of course. ahem.

For anyone interested: I've been doing more research and it looks like permanent residents are entitled to the same social security benefits as citizens. I'm hoping croutonsupafreak's immigration lawyer friend will confirm that for me over the weekend.
posted by widdershins at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2004


I've been doing more research and it looks like permanent residents are entitled to the same social security benefits as citizens.

AFAIK, for the most part that's true. Some varieties of social support aren't available until you're a citizen or have 40 quarters of work (ie, until the relevant I-864 sponsor dingus expires). But the big stuff like social security and medicare aren't among them; it's all stuff that would be our half-assed equivalents to the dole.

Not that I would dream of doing such a thing, of course. ahem.

Before you didn't do that, it might be worth checking (discreetly!!) to see if there's any actual punishment for doing so. If all that would happen is they'd take away your kid's Norwegian citizenship, then they'd only be losing something that they were going to lose anyway. But if there were a fine or jail time, it might be worth double not doing it. Presumably your kids would need to make sure they turned up for conscription, etc, if they took/kept Norwegian citizenship.

There's also some chance that Norway might stop being a dick about it in the intervening 18+ years.

Oh, and your kids wouldn't have to tell the US that they "chose" US citizenship at 18. Born here, they'd be citizens unless they went through a formal renunciation procedure (and even that isn't necessarily permanent in practice).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2004


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