Dually Yours
April 20, 2010 10:19 AM   Subscribe

What does a parent do to ensure their child has dual nationality?

I know that US parents who give birth abroad need to visit the US consulate office to register their newborns and secure their US nationality. However, what do parent from other countries do for their children born in the US? Does this change at all if the parents are illegally in the US?
posted by onhazier to Law & Government (15 answers total)
 
what do parent from other countries do for their children born in the US?

This will vary with the country in question.
posted by dfriedman at 10:25 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The parents' immigration status is irrelevant. The United States is one of the only countries in the world to confer citizenship automatically on any person born on our soil. All that is needed is a birth certificate, really.

Getting the child's other citizenship recognized can be a bit tricker and will obviously depend on the procedures of the parents' home country. Generally, proof that 1) the parents are themselves citizens and 2) this is in fact their kid will suffice. Same as for US citizens who have a kid while abroad.

Note that there are certain things you can do which will cost you your citizenship, at least in the US, but probably elsewhere as well. Serving as an officer or NCO (i.e. sergeant or above) in another country's armed forces is generally on that list, so citizens of countries where service is compulsory, e.g. Switzerland and Israel, have some choices to make about how far they want to take that (i.e. don't buck for a commission) if they hope to preserve their US citizenship. The Department of State has a fairly detailed discussion of the issue.
posted by valkyryn at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2010


As far as US citizenship goes, the 14th Amendment is very specific on this: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" The bit about jurisdiction there only means that children born to some varieties of diplomats are excluded.

If you are born in the US to parents there illegally, you are a US citizen. If you are born in the US to vacationers there, you are a US citizen. Your parental status doesn't matter: if you are born in the US, you are a US citizen (except for those few diplomats). This is on purpose; they were trying to make it hard for southern states to disenfranchise newly-freed blacks by saying that they weren't citizens.

They do not need to register the child any particular place in order to secure US citizenship. It should be pretty well enough to show a US birth certificate and ID to establish that you're the person named in the birth certificate.

As far as their other citizenship goes:

However, what do parent from other countries do for their children born in the US?

Whatever their country's law requires. This will no doubt vary rather strongly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:31 AM on April 20, 2010


Varies. I'm a Finnish citizen living in the States and married to an American. Any children we have will be American citizens, because they'll be born of an American mother, but they will also be Finnish citizens, because they'll be mine. Being born abroad doesn't change that. Now, the US does not officially recognize dual citizenship, however, but Finland does. So in my case, my kids will be just citizens of the US as far as America is concerned, but Finland will see them as having both Finnish and American citizenships.

Essentially, it depends on the countries involved.
posted by Unhyper at 10:31 AM on April 20, 2010


It looks like the US does allow for dual nationality. Here's the State Department's statement on it. My siblings are dual nationals of US/Italy because they were both born there while our parents were stationed there. Neither of my siblings have formally renounced their Italian citizenship.

I'm clear on the fact that the children born in the US or born of US parent(s) are US nationals. I'm more curious about what you've got to do to get the children recognized by the other country. Is there a site that describes the procedures by country?
posted by onhazier at 11:01 AM on April 20, 2010


There is almost certainly not a website that describes the procedures by country, but most countries should have websites that describe it, or google it for the specific country.
posted by brainmouse at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2010


The US permits dual nationality, i.e. having foreign citizenship doesn't automatically disqualify you for US citizenship, but it doesn't recognize it, i.e. if you have US citizenship, having a foreign citizenship doesn't get you anything as far as the US government is concerned.

I don't think you're going to be able to come up with procedures by country. Check the website for each country's counterpart of the Department of State.
posted by valkyryn at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2010


This pdf explains what you would do if the parents were from the UK
posted by patricio at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2010


In the case of my child, born in America to a British father, I just needed to fill out a form and send it, along with an exorbitant amount of money (£230.40/$350!) to the Foreign Consulate.
Technically, I didn't have to do this at all, since citizenship is conferred automatically, but I did for a couple of reasons.

It gets a nice British style birth certificate which in turn, makes other things like getting a passport easier and can aid in other ways.
Also, in the back of my mind is the though that they've changed the rules for citizenship before, so hey, let's get it "official".

Interestingly, in the package with documents, there was a note that explicitly recommended getting a U.S. passport before getting a British passport.
posted by madajb at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2010


I'm clear on the fact that the children born in the US or born of US parent(s) are US nationals.

The latter isn't always true. American citizens only pass on American citizenship to children born outside of the US if the parents meet certain residency requirements. If an American moves to the UK and has kids there, those kids are American citizens. But unless those kids meet the residency requirements (ie spend some certain amount of their lives/childhoods in the US), then *their* children born in the UK will not be American citizens too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:26 PM on April 20, 2010


Canada allows dual-nationality. Japan allows dual-nationality only up to the age of majority (20 years old), at which point you have to choose. Children born to a Japanese parent are eligible for Japanese nationality no matter where they are born. It's fairly straightforward: the Japanese parent adds the child to the family register back, in whichever city the family register is located in Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2010


My husband is a U.S. citizen born in Canada, to U.S. citizen parents who were living there at the time. He has dual citizenship.

Because Canada considers him to be a citizen, their rules also make our children eligible for Canadian citizenship. We've completed the process, which is basically a bunch of paperwork and photocopies of documents, for our older child, and we need to finish up for the younger one.

Googling "establish COUNTRYNAME citizenship" turns up a lot of information.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:06 PM on April 20, 2010


Because Canada considers him to be a citizen, their rules also make our children eligible for Canadian citizenship.

Note that even this isn't true for children born after April 17, 2009. After that date, children born outside Canada to a parent who was not born or naturalized in Canada do not acquire Canadian citizenship.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:31 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]



Note that even this isn't true for children born after April 17, 2009. After that date, children born outside Canada to a parent who was not born or naturalized in Canada do not acquire Canadian citizenship.


My husband was born in Canada. He is a Canadian citizen by birth. His U.S. citizenship is based on the fact that his parents are both U.S. citizens, and filled out all the proper paperwork when he was born and when they returned to the U.S. Therefore, I don't think this portion of the rule applies to our children. Not that it matters, since they were both born before that date anyway.

But yes, this is an example of how the rules are complicated no matter where you look.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 7:19 PM on April 20, 2010


Therefore, I don't think this portion of the rule applies to our children.

Not directly—but their children won't be Canadian unless they're born in Canada or the other parent was born or naturalized in Canada. Or the law changes.

Isn't this fun?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:49 AM on April 21, 2010


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