Are dual-US citizens required to disclose US citizenship when entering the US?
June 19, 2007 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Lawfilter: Is there any actual law requiring Dual (US/Other) citizens to enter the United States as US citizens?

I see different opinions everywhere.
Some places recommend that you enter the US as a US citizen.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html states that "MOST" US Citizens must use a US passport to enter and leave the United States.

However, I can't find an actual LAW that says you must. What if the person doesn't have a US passport, but only one of the other country? Could admitting to be a US citizen be a problem(Not being able to prove it, etc.)
posted by newatom to Law & Government (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
The boards at UK Yankee discuss this pretty often. Pretty much it boils down to the fact that the US does not recognise a citizen's dual nationality, but there's nothing to stop you having one. If you hold a US passport, you must enter and leave the US on it, but you can enter other countries under whichever passport you want.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:44 AM on June 19, 2007


Oh, didn't see the other part. If the person only has a passport from another country, but is a US citizen, I think they would have to apply at a US consulate to get a US passport before they could enter the US. Otherwise they'll be treated as a foreign citizen.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:46 AM on June 19, 2007


Also, this page might clarify things.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:47 AM on June 19, 2007


I am not a lawyer.

"MOST" US Citizens must use a US passport to enter and leave the United States

The line right after that in the link you provide states: "Use of the foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship."

In a totally hypothetical situation I'm thinking up right now, imagine someone was born to American parents in a Visa Waiver Program member country that gives citizenship to anyone born there, and that this person came to the US on very short notice - perhaps on a day's notice - to visit a dying relative, without obtaining a US passport first.

I could see a few problems arising by choosing to use a foreign passport, primarily the user thinking that they weren't considered American on a particular trip and then discovering that they were, under something from a 1930 treaty called the Master Nationality Rule.

Perhaps the US doesn't allow Activity X; you enter the US on your foreign passport, perhaps uneventfully, perpetrate Activity X, and find yourself arrested or accused of a crime; the US considers you its citizen to be dealt with as it sees fit, without the intervention of the country of your birth.
posted by mdonley at 4:05 AM on June 19, 2007


Happy Dave is right on. From what I can tell, they prefer you to use the blue one. Be sure yours or your child's isn't expired before you travel, and (surprise, surprise) the only place to renew them is London.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:27 AM on June 19, 2007


This seems a bit off-topic to the original question, but just to expand on what chuckdarwin said, if you have to renew a child's passport, that means at least one parent and the child have to be physically present at the US embassy in London. If both parents are not present, a sworn affidavit must be presented from the other.

You need an appointment for this, which you can only make about two weeks in advance. On arrival, after the queue and security, things actually move quite quickly and courteously, as has always been my experience of US Citizen Services in the UK.

This is a remarkable pain in the backside. For us, it meant taking the kids out of school and travelling to London for the day. Personally I think this is a little much for renewal. Were we tempted to take them to the US on their UK passports? Yes. Did we? No.
posted by sagwalla at 4:52 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know that I have both a Canadian and Israeli passport and it seems standard procedure that when I EXIT Israel I must use my Israeli passport.
posted by alon at 5:27 AM on June 19, 2007


I don't think Homeland Security is going to treat you as a US Citizen without proof. Which means that you are going to have to go through the whole process of entering the country as if you were a Foreigner. You will need a Green Card, Visa, possibly a letter of introduction, stand in the slow moving Alien line and basically waive all rights you have as a citizen going through customs.

If you get back into the country with the Visa and overstay it's time limit you could be royally screwed when they put you on a No-Fly list thinking you are an illegal. In this day and age, it would be a very risky and dumb thing to do.
posted by JJ86 at 6:09 AM on June 19, 2007


I got my dual citizenship as an adult and had multiple discussions with the state department on this issue. If you want the latest thinking and policy on this issue you should call them and talk to them.

Here's what they told me. As a US citizen there are a number of things you can do to jeopardize your US citizenship. One is to fight in a war for your other country against the USA. Another is to spy or commit treason. These are clear-cut. Then there are a bunch of things you can do that imply that you no longer wish to be a citizen, and that they will interpret (if they notice) as a repudiation of US citizenship. Top on that list is using another passport to enter the US. So I always use my US passport to come home, and I suggest you do likewise.
posted by zia at 7:16 AM on June 19, 2007


I was born in the US, moved to Canada, and got Canadian citizenship. Since the day that I got my Canadian passport (8 years ago) I have ALWAYS entered the US with it. However, it says right on the identification page "birthplace: Ohio, USA".

I have never had to get a visa. I have never been hassled at the border - in fact, typically the US Customs agents tell me "Welcome home" when I enter the US, and the Canadian agents tell me "welcome home" when I go back into Canada.

I have never heard of these rules before.. maybe the US and Canada are just friendly enough that it doesn't matter.
posted by some chick at 7:45 AM on June 19, 2007


Top on that list is using another passport to enter the US.
posted by zia at 10:16 AM on June 19 [+] [!]


Zia - Did the state department really tell you that? Wow.
posted by footnote at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2007


If you're a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you can run in to problems if, say, you enter on the visa waiver program as a citizen of country x rather than via your status as an LPR. This can be and has been interpreted as abandoning your US residence (though every incident I'm aware of has involved other complicating factors). But I don't think you can lose your citizenship by doing the same thing. IANAL.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:09 AM on June 19, 2007


I would like to piggyback a similar question to newatom's. Say, theoretically, you're a dual citizen living in the United States. You've got both passports. So you live in the U.S. permanently and decide to go traveling. I have a feeling that you want to use the same passport going out AND coming in.

What problems could arise (if any) if you leave the U.S. using a foreign passport, assuming you come back in with it? Or leave with the foreign one and come back on the U.S. one? I apologise in advance for my naiveté.
posted by indiebass at 12:02 PM on June 19, 2007


indiebass, again, I'm not a lawyer, but am speaking from my own experience as a frequent (but US-passport bearing) traveler abroad.

What problems could arise (if any) if you leave the U.S. using a foreign passport, assuming you come back in with it? Or leave with the foreign one and come back on the U.S. one?


I think it would be a really bad, and perhaps impossible, idea to leave with a foreign passport you hadn't entered the country on, because without an I-94 stub in your foreign passport or proof of your US citizenship (let's pretend all your proof of US citizenship is stashed in a vault in Monaco or something), you wouldn't have proved that you hadn't overstayed your visa from the last time you arrived (which was never, since you presumably came in on a US passport). I have never done this, though - perhaps someone here has tried.

Here's more from Customs and Border Patrol:

You will be asked to complete the [I-94] form prior to inspection. Review the form for accuracy and legibility before presenting it to the border inspector.

During the inspection, the CBP Officer may ask you questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be in the United States, and your residence abroad. Upon completion of the inspection, the CBP Officer will affix the I-94 Form to your passport. If you are not required to present a passport, the form will be handed to you.

Prior to departing the area, review the class of admission and period of admission recorded on the admission stamp. The information transcribed on the I-94 Form at the port-of-entry is the basis for all further immigration-related activity in which you may engage while in the United States. Benefit agencies, specifically the Social Security Administration, make decisions based the hand-written endorsement recorded on the Form I-94.

When you leave the country, you should give the I-94 Form to your airline or ship representative. If you are departing over a land border, give it to a Canadian or Mexican immigration inspector. The I-94 Form that has been approved by a CBP Officer proves that you arrived in the country legally and that you have not stayed beyond the period of your authorized stay.

Be sure to turn in the I-94 Form to the proper authorities on departure. This returned portion of the form proves you did not violate U.S. laws by staying in the country too long. It is proof that you obeyed U.S. immigration laws, which is essential if you want to return to the United States at a future date as an immigrant or nonimmigrant.

I might be misunderstanding your question, but I think this is it - basically, I think the US wants US citizens to use their US passports when they enter and leave because it saves on paperwork, and since dual US/somewhere else citizens are US citizens in the eyes of the US anyway when they're in the US, it doesn't make sense for airlines and cruise ships to treat them as foreigners when they depart. Also, when you come back, if whatever information they receive from a foreign state from the scan of your US passport you received when you arrived in the foreign country doesn't match your passport stamps and visas, then maybe you'll have some explaining to do.

Also note that the immigration lines at most ports of entry (again, I'm assuming based on the ones I've used in Toronto Airport's US pre-clearance area, LAX, and San Ysidro/Tijuana) say something like "US Citizens and Permanent Residents," not "US Passport Holders." What this means, I know not. :)
posted by mdonley at 3:10 PM on June 19, 2007


mdonley mentioned: Also note that the immigration lines at most ports of entry (again, I'm assuming based on the ones I've used in Toronto Airport's US pre-clearance area, LAX, and San Ysidro/Tijuana) say something like "US Citizens and Permanent Residents," not "US Passport Holders." What this means, I know not. :)

Permanent Residents include holders of Green Cards who do not have US Passports.
posted by JJ86 at 5:46 AM on June 20, 2007


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