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This article is about laws for acquiring U.S. nationality. For rights and privileges of citizenship, see Citizenship of the United States.

United States nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds United States nationality. In the United States, nationality is typically obtained through provisions in the U.S. Constitution, various laws, and international agreements. Citizenship is a right, not a privilege. While the domestic documents often use citizenship and nationality interchangeably, nationality refers to the legal means in which a person obtains a national identity and formal membership in a nation and citizenship refers to the relationship held by nationals who are also citizens.

Physicist Albert Einstein receiving his Certificate of Naturalization from Judge Phillip Forman in 1940.

Individuals born in any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia or almost any inhabited territory are natural-born United States citizens. The sole exception is American Samoa, where individuals are typically non-citizen U.S. nationals at birth. Foreign nationals living in any state or qualified territory may naturalize after becoming permanent residents and meeting a residence requirement (normally five years).

Contents

Constitutional foundation

Nationality defines the legal relationship between a person and a state or nation, specifying who is a member or subject of a particular nation. The rights and obligations of citizenship are defined by this relationship, as well as the protections to which nationals are entitled. Though nationality and citizenship are distinct and the United States recognizes the distinction between those who are entitled or not entitled to rights, its statutes typically use the words "citizen" and "citizenship" instead of "national" and "nationality". The Constitution of the United States did not define either nationality or citizenship, but in Article 1, section 8, clause 4 gave Congress the authority to establish a naturalization law. Before the American Civil War and adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, there was no other language in the Constitution dealing with nationality.

Nationality laws 1790–1866

The first statute to define nationality and naturalization in the United States was the Naturalization Act of 1790. It limited those who were eligible to be nationals as free, white persons. Following the practices of English common law, the legal system of the United States absorbed coverture, or the assumption that a woman's loyalty and obligations to her spouse were more important than her loyalty and obligation to the nation. While the Nationality Act did not forbid a woman to have her own nationality, judicial rulings and custom on domestic matters established that infants, slaves, and women were unable to participate in public life, as a result of the belief that they lacked critical judgment and had no right to exercise free will or control property. Native Americans were considered to be subjects of foreign governments and per decisions like Dred Scott v. Sandford (60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 1857) were only eligible to become naturalized if they assimilated white culture. From 1802, only fathers were able to pass on their nationality to their children. The Naturalization Act of 1804 confirmed that a woman's nationality was dependent upon her marital status and the Naturalization Act of 1855 tied a wife's nationality, and that of her children, to her husband's. A wife who married a foreign husband in this period was assumed to have suspended her nationality in favor of his. She was able to repatriate upon termination of the marriage and resumption of residence in the United States. While the 1855 Act specified that foreign wives gained U.S. nationality, the law created confusion as to whether it required American women who married aliens to take the nationality of the spouse. For example, Nellie Grant, daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, reacquired her U.S. nationality in 1898 by an Act of Congress, after a divorce from a British husband.

Expansions and interpretations 1866 to 1900

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and later that year passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to grant citizenship status to former slaves. The language of the Amendment was race-neutral and granted nationality to anyone born in the United States who had no allegiance to a foreign power, but specifically excluded all Native Americans who adhered to tribal governance. It did not extend nationality to Native Americans or to women of any race. In Minor v. Happersett (21 Wall 162, 1875), the Supreme Court confirmed that equal protection did not apply to women and Elk v. Wilkins (112 U.S. 94, 1884) confirmed that Native Americans did not have birthright nationality in United States territory.

Restrictions and interpretations 1900 to 1965

Under the Insular Cases of 1901, the Supreme Court ruled that unincorporated territories and insular possessions of the United States, which were not on a path toward statehood, had limited applicability of the U.S. Constitution. At the time, these included Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, acquired in 1898 at the end of the Spanish–American War. According to the decision, those born in insular possessions or unincorporated territories were not eligible for citizenship, though they were considered nationals and could hold a U.S. passport and gain diplomatic protection from the United States. Passage of the Expatriation Act of 1907 eliminated the uncertainty created in 1855, definitively stating that marriage solely determined all women's nationality. The law immediately revoked the nationality of married women, regardless of whether they were born in the United States or naturalized, if they were married to a non-citizen. It was retroactive and did not require a wife's consent, leaving many women unaware that they had lost their nationality.

The federal Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 were passed by Congress to address the concern that white authority was declining. The 1921 Act, known as the Emergency Quota Act, restricted immigration from various countries. The limits applied to foreign husbands and children of U.S.-born women, but provided an exemption for foreign wives and children of birthright male nationals. In 1922, the Cable Act was passed, declaring that an American woman could not be denied the right to naturalize because she was married. It established procedures for women, who had previously lost their citizenship because of marriage, to repatriate as naturalized (not birthright) citizens. A wife's nationality depended on residence and her husband's eligibility to naturalize; if she lived abroad, her nationality on re-entry to U.S. territory was therefore subject to the restrictions of the Quota Act. However, because the Cable Act was worded to specifically state that "women citizens" who married ineligible foreigners lost their nationality, it did not apply to American Samoan women, as they were non-citizen nationals.

Under the terms of the 1924 act, also known as the Asian Exclusion Act, Asians were not allowed to enter the country and were excluded from naturalization. It stated that an American-born woman whose nationality was lost because of marriage, regardless of whether that marriage had terminated, was ineligible for naturalization and was considered to have been "born in the country of which [they were] a citizen or subject". The Supreme Court ruling of 1923, in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, retroactively removed the nationality of Asian men, automatically revoking their wives' nationality. If a U.S. woman married to a man of Asian descent left the country, she could not be readmitted to the United States. Husbands could petition for an exception allowing their foreign-born wives to lawfully immigrate, but wives were unable to petition for their husbands. Immediately after passage of the 1924 Act, the Department of Labor Secretary, James Davis, recommended extending its provisions to immigrants from Mexico and other countries in the Americas. Every year from 1926 to 1930, Congress considered bills evaluating imposing quotas for immigration from the other nations in the western hemisphere. In June 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act granted Native Americans, unilaterally, nationality in the United States.

In 1933, the United States delegation to the Pan-American Union's Montevideo conference, Alexander W. Weddell and Joshua Butler Wright signed the Inter-American Convention on the Nationality of Women, which became effective in 1934, legally reserving limitations for domestic legislative review. The Equal Nationality Act of 1934 was the first statute that allowed derivative nationality for children born abroad to pass from their mother. Their nationality was dependent on whether the mother had resided in the United States before the child was born. As the law was not retroactive, children born before 1934 were typically prevented from deriving citizenship from their mother. The statute also provided preferential naturalization for any foreign spouse married to a U.S. national. It stated that eligible foreigners, who met all other requirements of naturalization, could naturalize under reduced requirements forgoing a declaration of intent and needing only three years of continuous residency within the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.

Amendments to the Cable Act and nationality laws continued until 1940, when married women were granted their own nationality without restriction. That year, Congress amended the Nationality Act, distinguishing for the first time different rules for derivative nationality for legitimate and illegitimate children. Under the provisions, children born out of wedlock passed from mother to child automatically, but required legitimization of paternity prior to a child reaching the age of majority for derivative nationality from the father. The 1940 Act also allowed all women who had previously lost their citizenship because of marriage to repatriate without regard to their marital status, by swearing the oath of allegiance, as opposed to the previous policy of repatriation by naturalization. Racial exclusions for derivative naturalization of husbands of U.S.-citizen wives remained in place until passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952. Though it ended utilizing race as a criterion for admission to the country of nationalization, continued use of quotas to restrict immigration from Asian countries did not end racial exclusion. Until immigration laws were reformed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the restrictive quota system remained in place.

Refinements and interpretations 1966 to 2001

Until 1972, the Nationality Laws of the United States required that children born abroad to U.S. nationals complete a five-year residency by establishing a continuous domicile in the territory prior to their twenty-third birthday. Failure to establish a residence nullified U.S. nationality and citizenship. In 1982, Congress enacted provisions for children born between 1950 and 1982 to facilitate immigration for children of U.S. national fathers. Intended to assist children born in areas where the U.S. had been militarily active, it applied to children born in Kampuchea, Korea, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The special provisions did not give children nationality, but loosened the requirements for legitimization and financial support for children born abroad, removed scrutiny of the father’s marital status, requiring only that the Attorney General establish that a presumed father was a citizen and that a sponsor agreed to take legal custody and support a child under the age of eighteen. In 1987, the Amerasian Homecoming Act facilitated resettlement of immigrant Vietnamese mothers and their children born between 1962 and 1972 to U.S. military personnel.

In 1989, a ruling in the case of Elias v. United States Department of State (721 F. Supp. 243, N.C. Cal 1989) confirmed that a child born abroad prior to 1934 to a U.S.-born woman could obtain derivative nationality. As the case was not a class-action lawsuit, it did not impact others in similar situations; however, the 1993 ruling in Wauchope v. United States Department of State (985 F.2d 1407, 9th Cir. 1993) by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared section 1993, which denied a woman's ability to transmit nationality to her children born before 1934, unconstitutional. In the case Miller v. Albright (523 U.S. 420 1998), the court upheld discriminatory regulations set out in Title 8 U.S.C. § 1409 in the treatment of women and men passing their nationality to illegitimate children. Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion in the case was that men do not establish a legal tie to a child except by choice; whereas, a woman's legal tie is established by biology. In essence, a woman's tie with her child is legal when birth occurs and cannot be severed without legally terminating her parental rights, but a man can choose to walk away or establish a tie. The ruling meant that mothers were able to pass on their nationality at the birth of an illegitimate child born abroad, if the mother had lived for a continuous period of one year prior to the child's birth in the United States or a U.S. territory. For an unmarried man to pass nationality to an illegitimate child born abroad, before the child's eighteenth birthday, a blood relationship must be proved in court, the child must be recognized and legitimized, and the father's nationality at the time of birth must be confirmed. On the basis of Clark v. Jeter (486 U.S. 456, 1988), no similar requirement applies for a married man. However, for both married men and unmarried men, the statute "required the U.S.-born parent to have ten years' physical presence in the United States prior to the child's birth, 'at least five of which were after attaining' age 14". In 2001, the Supreme Court again upheld the unequal regulations in the case of Nguyen v. INS (533 U.S. 53 2001) confirming that in the case of nationality, the inequality is present, which serves governmental objectives, to establish both a biological tie and a customary relationship between the child and parent.

U.S. outlying territorial history

The Territorial Clause of the Constitution gave Congress authority to regulate on behalf of United States territories and possessions. Using that power, Congress made distinctions for those territories which were to be incorporated eventually as states, and those that were not on a path of statehood. Because of this authority, Congress has determined when inhabitants can become nationals and what their status is at any given time. Prior to 1898, all persons born in U.S. possessions were treated as having been born in the United States, and upon acquisition, provisions were made for collective naturalization. After that date, possessions have been selectively judged to foreign localities and not subject to the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because of that determination, all persons in the U.S. outlying possessions were considered U.S. nationals, non-citizens, until Congress chose to convey full rights of citizenship. This included inhabitants of American Samoa, Guam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Non-citizen nationals do not have full protection of their rights, though they may reside in the United States and gain entry without a visa. Likewise, territorial citizens do not have the ability for full participation in national politics.

In a series of Acts, the United States conveyed nationality upon outlying territories not destined for statehood. Inhabitants became neither aliens, eligible for naturalization, nor citizens with full rights. In 1900, legislation defined inhabitants in Puerto Rico as both citizens of Puerto Rico and U.S. nationals. In 1902, similar legislation to that passed for Puerto Rico came in to force concerning the Philippines. The United States established special rules for people working in the Panama Canal Zone in 1903, under the terms of the Panamanian-U.S. Canal Convention. Under its provisions, the 8 U.S.C. § 1403 was modified to include language that persons born in the Canal Zone or in Panama itself, on or after February 26, 1904, to a parent who was, or formerly was, a United States national derived U.S. birthright citizenship. In 1906, Congress passed legislation to allow persons born in unincorporated territories to be naturalized, under special provisions.

The Jones–Shafroth Act of 1917, conferred nationality with citizenship rights upon all inhabitants of Puerto Rico, regardless of when their birth occurred in the territory. In 1927, U.S. nationals of the U.S. Virgin Islands were granted citizenship rights. American Samoa became a U.S. territory in 1929 and its inhabitants became non-citizen nationals. Since passage of the Nationality Act of 1940, non-citizen nationals may transmit their non-citizen U.S. nationality to children born abroad. The Philippine Independence Act became effective in 1946, and thereafter, Filipinos did not have U.S. nationality. The residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands came under U.S. jurisdiction in 1947, pursuant to an arrangement with the United Nations, but it was not included as a territory at that time. U.S. nationals of Guam, by the Organic Act of 1950, were conferred the rights of citizenship. In 1976, the Trust Territories became the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, were admitted as a territory, and inhabitants were conferred U.S. nationality with the rights of citizens. Co-administration of Panama and the Canal Zone commenced on October 1, 1979 and thereafter, U.S. nationality could not be acquired.

Acquisition of nationality

A judge swears in a new citizen. New York, 1910

There are various ways a person can acquire United States nationality, either at birth, by naturalization, or through court decisions and/or treaties.

Birth within the United States

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that "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 language has been codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, section 301(a). Regardless of the status of the parent, unless they are in the employ of a foreign government, birth within the territory confers nationality. The Supreme Court has not explicitly ruled whether children born in the United States to unauthorized migrants present in the country are birthright nationals, but it is generally presumed they are. Birth certificates from U.S. jurisdictions are typically acceptable proof of nationality.

Through birth abroad to United States citizens

A State Department certification of birth abroad, issued prior to 1990.

For children born abroad, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad may be requested to confirm entitlement as a national. Section 301(c) of the Nationality Act of 1952 extends automatic nationality at birth to children born abroad to two parents who are U.S. nationals, as long as one of the parents resided for any length of time in the United States or its possessions. Section 301(g) establishes that to attain automatic nationality for a child born abroad to a citizen and a foreign national, residency in the United States or its possessions is also required. Time served as active military service was considered equivalent to residence in the U.S. For children with one national parent, requirements vary, depending on when they were born, and whether the parents were married.

A State Department certification of report of birth, issued between 1990 and 2010.
Legitimate children

Automatic nationality is extended based upon the law applicable at the time of the child's birth:

  • If a birth abroad occurred after May 24, 1934 but prior to December 23, 1952, the U.S. national parent must have resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years, with five of them after the age of fourteen.
  • If a birth abroad occurred after December 24, 1952 but prior to November 13, 1986, the U.S. national parent must have been the legal and genetic or gestational parent, and have resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years, with five of them after the age of fourteen.
  • If the birth occurred on or after November 14, 1986, the U.S. national must have resided in the United States for five years, two of them after the age of fourteen, previous to the birth of the child.
Illegitimate children
A State Department consular report of birth abroad, issued beginning 2011.

Automatic nationality is extended based upon the law applicable at the time of the child's birth:

  • If the birth occurred prior to or after October 14, 1940, to a U.S. mother, who had at any time resided in the United States or its possessions, or to a U.S. father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years, with five of them after the age of sixteen, as long as the child resided in the United States for five years prior to the age of majority.
  • If the birth occurred between January 13, 1941 and December 23, 1952 to a U.S. mother, who had at any time resided in the United States or its possessions, or to a U.S. father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years, with five of them after the age of sixteen.
  • If the child was born between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, to a U.S. mother, who had resided in the United States or its possessions for one year, or to a U.S. father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years, with five of them after the age of fourteen.
  • If the child was born between November 14, 1986 and June 11, 2017 to a U.S. mother, who had resided in the United States or its possessions for one year, or to a U.S. father who had resided in the United States or its possessions five years before the child's birth, with two of them after the age of fourteen. In addition, the father had to prove a biological relationship, agree to financially support the child, and formally legitimize the child prior to its majority (18 years old).

In 2017, in a unanimous decision in the case of Sessions v. Morales-Santana (137 S. Ct. 1678, 2017), the Supreme Court struck down the unequal residence requirement for unmarried parents to pass on nationality to their children born abroad, ruling that the equal but longer term of five years residency should apply until Congress amended the law.

Adoptions

Prior to 2000, adoptees had to be naturalized and could be subject to deportation in later life for various offenses. Adopted children born on or before February 26, 1983 are subject to the law in effect at the time they were adopted. With passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, effective for children under eighteen or born on or after February 27, 2001, foreign adoptees of U.S. nationals, brought to the United States by a legal custodial parent in their minority, automatically derive nationality upon legal entry to the country and finalization of the adoption process.

Birth in outlying possessions

Message in the passport of an American Samoan stating that the passport holder is a national, not citizen, of the U.S.

For people born in U.S. territories or possessions, nationality hinges upon whether they were born prior to the area being covered by U.S. sovereignty, during a period of U.S. sovereignty, or after U.S. sovereignty was terminated. Separate sections of the Nationality Act of 1952 handle territories that the United States has acquired over time, such as Alaska 8 U.S.C. § 1404 and Hawaii 8 U.S.C. § 1405, both incorporated, and unincorporated Puerto Rico 8 U.S.C. § 1402, the U.S. Virgin Islands 8 U.S.C. § 1406, and Guam 8 U.S.C. § 1407. Each of these sections confer nationality on persons living in these territories as of a certain date, and usually confer native-born status on persons born in incorporated territories after that date. Specified effective dates in the territories include April 11, 1899, for Guam and Puerto Rico; January 17, 1917, for the U.S. Virgin Islands; and November 4, 1986, for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Since passage of the Nationality Act of 1952, people born in these territories acquire nationality at birth.

Congress has conferred birthright nationality, through legislation, to persons born in all inhabited territories except American Samoa and Swains Island, who are granted the status of non-citizen-nationals. A December 12, 2019 ruling by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down the special status8 U.S.C. § 1408(1) of American Samoans as non-citizen nationals as unconstitutional, holding that "any State Department policy that provides that the citizenship provisions of the Constitution do not apply to persons born in American Samoa violates the 14th Amendment." Government attorneys had argued that "Such a novel holding would be contrary to the decisions of every court of appeals to have considered the question, inconsistent with over a century of historical practice by all three branches of the United States government, and conflict with the strong objection of the local government of American Samoa." Waddoups stayed his ruling on December 13 pending appellate review, so it did not take immediate effect. On June 15, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the ruling.

Naturalization

A certificate of naturalization (1955)

A person who was not born a United States national may acquire U.S. nationality through a process known as naturalization.

Eligibility for naturalization

To become naturalized in the United States, an applicant must be at least eighteen years of age at the time of filing, a legal permanent resident of the United States, and have had a status of a legal permanent resident in the United States for five years before applying. A minimum physical presence in the territory for two and a half years is required, and absences of over six months reset the time frame. Persons married to and living with a U.S. national are eligible for a reduced residency period of three years with half of it requiring physical presence. For the period immediately preceding application, persons must have three months residence established in the jurisdiction in which they are filing and must remain continuously in residence until completion of the granting of nationality. Non-citizen nationals of U.S. possessions are eligible for naturalization upon establishing residency in a state. The territory of the United States, for the purposes of determining a person's period of residence, includes the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, specifically excluding residence in American Samoa, except for American Samoans seeking naturalization.

A person holding up their certificate of derivative citizenship (2010)

Some exemptions from permanent residency exist for certain qualifying naturalization applicants. For example, since 1940, an immigrant who honorably served in the U.S. military during a designated period of hostility may naturalize without having first been a permanent resident. During peace time, a foreigner's honorable military service reduces the residency requirement to one year. A legal but not permanent immigrant who successfully completed the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program may naturalize without first having been a permanent resident. Similarly, an immigrant who has made extraordinary contributions, such as scientists or Olympic athletes, can be exempted from residency as well as the physical presence requirement and prohibitions for support of totalitarianism and or communism.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 provided that a minor child born abroad to a U.S.-national parent who had not satisfied the residency requirements for nationality at birth could qualify for special naturalization. In lieu of the parent, a child may also qualify under this process if the child's grandparent has satisfied the five-year residency in the United States with two of those years occurring after the child reached the age of 14. Eligible children are not required to meet any other requirements for naturalization.

Process for naturalization
Questions and answers for the civics portion of the citizenship test

Applicants must apply for naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and pay requisite fees. They must demonstrate good moral character, evidenced by a lack of a criminal history, and must pass a test on United States history and civics. The questions are publicly available on the web and require the applicant to answer ten out of one hundred possible questions. Most applicants must also have a working knowledge of the English language, demonstrated by testing their basic ability in reading and writing, rather than fluency. Long-term permanent residents are exempt from the language test. For example, a person who is over age fifty with twenty years of residency or over fifty-five with fifteen years of residency can opt to take the civics test in their original language. Persons over age sixty-five with twenty years residency may be given a shorter list of questions and those with physical or mental disadvantages are exempt from either the language or civics examinations. Granting of nationality is contingent upon taking an Oath of Allegiance; however since 2000 an exception has been made for people with diminished physical or mental capacity.

Loss of nationality

A Certificate of Loss of Nationality, signifying that the bearer has relinquished or renounced U.S. nationality.

The United States has a lengthy history of involuntary expatriation (loss of nationality). From 1907, naturalized persons who returned to their country of origin for two or more years could be expatriated, as could native-born nationals who moved abroad and took allegiance to another nation. Married women were automatically expatriated upon marriage to foreign men or men who were unable to qualify for naturalization. From 1940, reasons for involuntary termination of nationality included service to a foreign government or in foreign armed forces, voting in a foreign election, military desertion, treason, or evidence of dual nationality, except for possession of a passport. The Supreme Court's interpretation of expatriation was made clear in Mackenzie v. Hare in 1915 with the ruling that Ethel Mackenzie's conduct, choosing to marry a non-national, was a voluntary acceptance to be denationalized. In the case of Savorgnan v. United States in 1950, the Court ruled that not knowing the consequences of one's actions was equally voluntary expatriation. The 1958 decision in Perez v. Brownell, which upheld denaturalization for foreign voting, marked a turning point, and the decision was reversed in 1967 in the ruling for Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253, which found that a for a person's voluntary action to initiate a loss of nationality, an inference of abandonment by the action must have been present. By 1978, the decision in Vance v. Terrazas made it clear that a specific intent to expatriate must exist to lose nationality.

In 1986,8 U.S.C. § 1481(a) was amended based on these court decisions to affirm that the intention to relinquish nationality must exist when performing a voluntary act for loss of nationality to occur. The State Department issued a partial list of actions such as paying taxes or recording a will in the United States, which would indicate intent to retain a national identity, or using a foreign passport when entering the United States or registering with a foreign political party, which might indicate an intent to relinquish nationality, but advised each case was to be reviewed in context. Nationals were advised to write a statement advising that their actions were not an intent to give up their nationality and file it with an embassy or consulate official. In 1990, Section 1481 was revised again, to reflect a new policy of the State Department to presume that an individual did not intend to give up nationality, if the person performed a potentially expatriating act. Based on a consular memorandum, this meant that, for example, acquisition of nationality in another nation which included a routine declaration of allegiance, or accepting foreign employment in a non-policy position of another nation, should result in the assumption that the person had no intention of relinquishing their nationality through their actions. From that time, the United States effectively has allowed nationals to acquire new nationality while remaining a U.S. national, thereby holding multiple nationalities, and has ceased seeking records of newly nationalized persons abroad to evaluate their potential denationalization.

Removing these items from the potential means of forfeiting U.S. nationality, the Nationality Act retained as possible causes of denaturalization, treason, sedition, or conspiring against the United States; employment as an official with policy-making authority of a foreign government; and voluntary renunciation. Fraud, committed in conjunction with an application for naturalization can also make nationality voidable. Typically, prominent former Nazi officers who acquired U.S. nationality have had it revoked if the Office of Special Investigations has been able to prove that the naturalization was obtained by concealing their involvement in war crimes committed during World War II. They cannot be tried for crimes committed elsewhere, thus are denaturalized for immigration violations, and once they become aliens, ordered deported.

The process of denaturalization is a legal procedure which results in nullifying nationality. Based upon the 1943 Supreme Court decision of Schneiderman v. United States, clear and convincing evidence must be evaluated in processing a denaturalization action. United States Attorneys for the district in which a defendant resides bring suit in the jurisdiction's Federal District Court. Juries are typically not present and the defendant may be compelled to testify. Failure to testify may result in a presumption of guilt, though defendants can plead against self-incrimination. The standard of proof is not reasonable doubt, but rather clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence. Decisions may be appealed in federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court. Once the legal process has concluded, the Department of State issues a Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

Renunciation of nationality, or legal expatriation, includes the voluntary relinquishment of a national identity and all rights and privileges associated with it. It is accomplished by making a formal declaration, which is sworn before a designated authority in the United States during a time of war, or abroad at any time to a consular officer. Evidence which clearly establishes the intent to expatriate must be approved and if there is doubt, such as in the case where a declarant would become stateless, the Department of State may be reluctant to accept the declaration. After an interview and counseling on the consequences of renunciation, if the applicant wishes to proceed, a fee is paid, the declaration is made, and a renunciation ceremony, in which the applicant signs a Statement of Understanding and takes the Oath of Renunciation, is held.

People giving up U.S. nationality may be subject to an expatriation tax. Originally, under the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966, people determined to be giving up their nationality for the purpose of avoiding U.S. taxation were subject to ten years of continued taxation on their U.S.-source income, to prevent ex-nationals from taking advantage of special tax incentives offered to foreigners investing in the United States. Since 2008, these provisions no longer apply; instead, ex-citizens who meet certain asset or tax liability thresholds pay a capital gains tax on a deemed sale of their U.S. and non-U.S. assets, including retirement accounts, regardless of their reasons for giving up citizenship. The Reed Amendment, a 1996 law, bars former nationals as inadmissible to the United States if the Attorney General finds that they renounced citizenship for purposes of avoiding taxes; however, it has never been enforced. Proposals such as the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act to rewrite the Reed Amendment and make it enforceable failed in committee in both 2012 and 2013.

Dual nationality

The Supreme Court ruled in Kawakita v. United States, 343 U.S. 717 (1952) that dual nationality is a long-recognized status in the law and that "a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one nationality does not, without more, mean that he renounces the other". In Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964), it found that persons who have been naturalized in the United States have the right to return to their native countries and to resume a former nationality while remaining a U.S. national. This applies even if they never return to the United States. Since 1990, the State Department has allowed multiple nationalities. Official policy is one of recognition that such a status exists, but the U.S. government does not endorse a policy of having multiple nationalities, though it is permitted. Dual nationality may run counter to expectations of government agencies in matters of security clearance or access to classified information. The State Department issued a memorandum in 2016, advising agencies of proper evaluation procedures to weigh the risks of plural nationality.

  1. Because the status of the parents was irrelevant, except if they were in the employ as part of the military or diplomatic corps of a foreign government or Native American, U.S.-born women could pass on their nationality to their children born in the United States, as could parents who themselves were part of a restricted group. For example, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (169 U.S. 649, 1898) that children born in the United States to immigrants, who were not eligible for naturalization, were birthright citizens.
  2. Though bills have been introduced, neither the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals nor DREAM Act allow unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to enlist in the military as a pathway to naturalization. Enlistment requires verification of immigration status.

Citations

  1. Laskow 2017.
  2. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states:"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".
  3. Boll 2007, p. 66-67.
  4. Stevens 1933, p. Part II.
  5. Guerry & Rundell 2016, p. 73.
  6. Escobar 2015, p. 1.
  7. Boll 2007, p. 114.
  8. United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women & Chinkin 2003, pp. 2–3.
  9. Stevens 1933, p. 61, Part II.
  10. Bickel 1973, p. 369.
  11. Bickel 1973, p. 370.
  12. Kerber 1998, pp. xxiii, 11–12.
  13. Rutherglen 2013, p. 21.
  14. Isenberg 1998, p. 45.
  15. Jefferson 1999, pp. 219–220.
  16. Smith, Milhollan & Nelson 1981, p. 195.
  17. Hoxie 2006, p. 330.
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Bibliography

United States nationality law Article Talk Language Watch Edit This article is about laws for acquiring U S nationality For rights and privileges of citizenship see Citizenship of the United States United States nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds United States nationality In the United States nationality is typically obtained through provisions in the U S Constitution various laws and international agreements Citizenship is a right not a privilege 2 While the domestic documents often use citizenship and nationality interchangeably nationality refers to the legal means in which a person obtains a national identity and formal membership in a nation and citizenship refers to the relationship held by nationals who are also citizens Physicist Albert Einstein receiving his Certificate of Naturalization from Judge Phillip Forman in 1940 1 Individuals born in any of the 50 U S states the District of Columbia or almost any inhabited territory are natural born United States citizens The sole exception is American Samoa where individuals are typically non citizen U S nationals at birth Foreign nationals living in any state or qualified territory may naturalize after becoming permanent residents and meeting a residence requirement normally five years Contents 1 History 1 1 Constitutional foundation 1 2 Nationality laws 1790 1866 1 3 Expansions and interpretations 1866 to 1900 1 4 Restrictions and interpretations 1900 to 1965 1 5 Refinements and interpretations 1966 to 2001 1 6 U S outlying territorial history 2 Current scheme 2 1 Acquisition of nationality 2 1 1 Birth within the United States 2 1 2 Through birth abroad to United States citizens 2 1 2 1 Legitimate children 2 1 2 2 Illegitimate children 2 1 3 Adoptions 2 1 4 Birth in outlying possessions 2 1 5 Naturalization 2 1 5 1 Eligibility for naturalization 2 1 5 2 Process for naturalization 2 2 Loss of nationality 2 3 Dual nationality 3 Notes 4 See also 5 References 5 1 Citations 5 2 Bibliography 6 Further reading 7 External linksHistory EditConstitutional foundation Edit Nationality defines the legal relationship between a person and a state or nation specifying who is a member or subject of a particular nation 3 4 5 The rights and obligations of citizenship are defined by this relationship as well as the protections to which nationals are entitled 6 7 8 Though nationality and citizenship are distinct and the United States recognizes the distinction between those who are entitled or not entitled to rights its statutes typically use the words citizen and citizenship instead of national and nationality 9 The Constitution of the United States did not define either nationality or citizenship but in Article 1 section 8 clause 4 gave Congress the authority to establish a naturalization law 10 Before the American Civil War and adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment there was no other language in the Constitution dealing with nationality 11 Nationality laws 1790 1866 Edit The first statute to define nationality and naturalization in the United States was the Naturalization Act of 1790 12 It limited those who were eligible to be nationals as free white persons 13 Following the practices of English common law the legal system of the United States absorbed coverture or the assumption that a woman s loyalty and obligations to her spouse were more important than her loyalty and obligation to the nation While the Nationality Act did not forbid a woman to have her own nationality 12 judicial rulings and custom on domestic matters established that infants slaves and women were unable to participate in public life as a result of the belief that they lacked critical judgment and had no right to exercise free will or control property 14 15 Native Americans were considered to be subjects of foreign governments and per decisions like Dred Scott v Sandford 60 U S 19 How 393 1857 were only eligible to become naturalized if they assimilated white culture 16 17 From 1802 only fathers were able to pass on their nationality to their children 18 The Naturalization Act of 1804 confirmed that a woman s nationality was dependent upon her marital status and the Naturalization Act of 1855 tied a wife s nationality and that of her children to her husband s 19 20 21 A wife who married a foreign husband in this period was assumed to have suspended her nationality in favor of his 22 She was able to repatriate upon termination of the marriage and resumption of residence in the United States 23 While the 1855 Act specified that foreign wives gained U S nationality the law created confusion as to whether it required American women who married aliens to take the nationality of the spouse 24 For example Nellie Grant daughter of President Ulysses S Grant reacquired her U S nationality in 1898 by an Act of Congress after a divorce from a British husband 25 Expansions and interpretations 1866 to 1900 Edit In the aftermath of the Civil War Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and later that year passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to grant citizenship status to former slaves 13 The language of the Amendment was race neutral and granted nationality to anyone born in the United States who had no allegiance to a foreign power but specifically excluded all Native Americans who adhered to tribal governance 26 27 Notes 1 It did not extend nationality to Native Americans or to women of any race 30 In Minor v Happersett 21 Wall 162 1875 the Supreme Court confirmed that equal protection did not apply to women 31 32 and Elk v Wilkins 112 U S 94 1884 confirmed that Native Americans did not have birthright nationality in United States territory 33 Restrictions and interpretations 1900 to 1965 Edit Under the Insular Cases of 1901 the Supreme Court ruled that unincorporated territories and insular possessions of the United States which were not on a path toward statehood had limited applicability of the U S Constitution At the time these included Guam the Philippines and Puerto Rico acquired in 1898 at the end of the Spanish American War According to the decision those born in insular possessions or unincorporated territories were not eligible for citizenship though they were considered nationals and could hold a U S passport and gain diplomatic protection from the United States 34 Passage of the Expatriation Act of 1907 eliminated the uncertainty created in 1855 definitively stating that marriage solely determined all women s nationality 35 36 The law immediately revoked the nationality of married women regardless of whether they were born in the United States or naturalized if they were married to a non citizen 36 37 It was retroactive and did not require a wife s consent leaving many women unaware that they had lost their nationality 38 39 The federal Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 were passed by Congress to address the concern that white authority was declining 40 The 1921 Act known as the Emergency Quota Act restricted immigration from various countries The limits applied to foreign husbands and children of U S born women but provided an exemption for foreign wives and children of birthright male nationals 41 In 1922 the Cable Act was passed declaring that an American woman could not be denied the right to naturalize because she was married 42 It established procedures for women who had previously lost their citizenship because of marriage to repatriate as naturalized not birthright citizens 19 43 44 A wife s nationality depended on residence and her husband s eligibility to naturalize 45 46 if she lived abroad her nationality on re entry to U S territory was therefore subject to the restrictions of the Quota Act 47 However because the Cable Act was worded to specifically state that women citizens who married ineligible foreigners lost their nationality it did not apply to American Samoan women as they were non citizen nationals 48 Under the terms of the 1924 act also known as the Asian Exclusion Act Asians were not allowed to enter the country and were excluded from naturalization 49 It stated that an American born woman whose nationality was lost because of marriage regardless of whether that marriage had terminated was ineligible for naturalization and was considered to have been born in the country of which they were a citizen or subject 50 The Supreme Court ruling of 1923 in United States v Bhagat Singh Thind retroactively removed the nationality of Asian men automatically revoking their wives nationality 51 If a U S woman married to a man of Asian descent left the country she could not be readmitted to the United States 50 Husbands could petition for an exception allowing their foreign born wives to lawfully immigrate but wives were unable to petition for their husbands 52 Immediately after passage of the 1924 Act the Department of Labor Secretary James Davis recommended extending its provisions to immigrants from Mexico and other countries in the Americas Every year from 1926 to 1930 Congress considered bills evaluating imposing quotas for immigration from the other nations in the western hemisphere 53 In June 1924 the Indian Citizenship Act granted Native Americans unilaterally nationality in the United States 54 In 1933 the United States delegation to the Pan American Union s Montevideo conference Alexander W Weddell and Joshua Butler Wright signed the Inter American Convention on the Nationality of Women which became effective in 1934 legally reserving limitations for domestic legislative review 55 The Equal Nationality Act of 1934 was the first statute that allowed derivative nationality for children born abroad to pass from their mother Their nationality was dependent on whether the mother had resided in the United States before the child was born 37 56 As the law was not retroactive children born before 1934 were typically prevented from deriving citizenship from their mother 37 The statute also provided preferential naturalization for any foreign spouse married to a U S national It stated that eligible foreigners who met all other requirements of naturalization could naturalize under reduced requirements forgoing a declaration of intent and needing only three years of continuous residency within the United States Alaska Hawaii or Puerto Rico 57 Amendments to the Cable Act and nationality laws continued until 1940 when married women were granted their own nationality without restriction 58 That year Congress amended the Nationality Act distinguishing for the first time different rules for derivative nationality for legitimate and illegitimate children 59 Under the provisions children born out of wedlock passed from mother to child automatically but required legitimization of paternity prior to a child reaching the age of majority for derivative nationality from the father 56 The 1940 Act also allowed all women who had previously lost their citizenship because of marriage to repatriate without regard to their marital status by swearing the oath of allegiance as opposed to the previous policy of repatriation by naturalization 60 Racial exclusions for derivative naturalization of husbands of U S citizen wives remained in place until passage of the McCarran Walter Act in 1952 Though it ended utilizing race as a criterion for admission to the country of nationalization continued use of quotas to restrict immigration from Asian countries did not end racial exclusion 61 62 Until immigration laws were reformed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 the restrictive quota system remained in place 61 Refinements and interpretations 1966 to 2001 Edit Until 1972 the Nationality Laws of the United States required that children born abroad to U S nationals complete a five year residency by establishing a continuous domicile in the territory prior to their twenty third birthday Failure to establish a residence nullified U S nationality and citizenship In 1982 Congress enacted provisions for children born between 1950 and 1982 to facilitate immigration for children of U S national fathers Intended to assist children born in areas where the U S had been militarily active it applied to children born in Kampuchea Korea Laos Thailand and Vietnam 63 The special provisions did not give children nationality but loosened the requirements for legitimization and financial support for children born abroad removed scrutiny of the father s marital status requiring only that the Attorney General establish that a presumed father was a citizen and that a sponsor agreed to take legal custody and support a child under the age of eighteen 64 In 1987 the Amerasian Homecoming Act facilitated resettlement of immigrant Vietnamese mothers and their children born between 1962 and 1972 to U S military personnel 65 In 1989 a ruling in the case of Elias v United States Department of State 721 F Supp 243 N C Cal 1989 confirmed that a child born abroad prior to 1934 to a U S born woman could obtain derivative nationality As the case was not a class action lawsuit it did not impact others in similar situations 66 however the 1993 ruling in Wauchope v United States Department of State 985 F 2d 1407 9th Cir 1993 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared section 1993 which denied a woman s ability to transmit nationality to her children born before 1934 unconstitutional 59 In the case Miller v Albright 523 U S 420 1998 the court upheld discriminatory regulations set out in Title 8 U S C 1409 in the treatment of women and men passing their nationality to illegitimate children 67 Justice John Paul Stevens opinion in the case was that men do not establish a legal tie to a child except by choice whereas a woman s legal tie is established by biology 68 In essence a woman s tie with her child is legal when birth occurs and cannot be severed without legally terminating her parental rights but a man can choose to walk away or establish a tie 69 The ruling meant that mothers were able to pass on their nationality at the birth of an illegitimate child born abroad if the mother had lived for a continuous period of one year prior to the child s birth in the United States or a U S territory 70 For an unmarried man to pass nationality to an illegitimate child born abroad before the child s eighteenth birthday a blood relationship must be proved in court the child must be recognized and legitimized and the father s nationality at the time of birth must be confirmed 71 On the basis of Clark v Jeter 486 U S 456 1988 no similar requirement applies for a married man 72 However for both married men and unmarried men the statute required the U S born parent to have ten years physical presence in the United States prior to the child s birth at least five of which were after attaining age 14 73 In 2001 the Supreme Court again upheld the unequal regulations in the case of Nguyen v INS 533 U S 53 2001 confirming that in the case of nationality the inequality is present which serves governmental objectives to establish both a biological tie and a customary relationship between the child and parent 70 U S outlying territorial history Edit See also American Samoan citizenship and nationality Guamanian citizenship and nationality Northern Mariana citizenship and nationality Puerto Rican citizenship and nationality and United States Virgin Islander citizenship and nationality The Territorial Clause of the Constitution gave Congress authority to regulate on behalf of United States territories and possessions 74 Using that power Congress made distinctions for those territories which were to be incorporated eventually as states and those that were not on a path of statehood 75 Because of this authority Congress has determined when inhabitants can become nationals and what their status is at any given time 76 Prior to 1898 all persons born in U S possessions were treated as having been born in the United States and upon acquisition provisions were made for collective naturalization After that date possessions have been selectively judged to foreign localities and not subject to the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment 77 Because of that determination all persons in the U S outlying possessions were considered U S nationals non citizens until Congress chose to convey full rights of citizenship This included inhabitants of American Samoa Guam the Philippines Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands 78 Non citizen nationals do not have full protection of their rights though they may reside in the United States and gain entry without a visa 79 Likewise territorial citizens do not have the ability for full participation in national politics 80 In a series of Acts the United States conveyed nationality upon outlying territories not destined for statehood 81 Inhabitants became neither aliens eligible for naturalization nor citizens with full rights 82 In 1900 legislation defined inhabitants in Puerto Rico as both citizens of Puerto Rico and U S nationals 79 In 1902 similar legislation to that passed for Puerto Rico came in to force concerning the Philippines 79 The United States established special rules for people working in the Panama Canal Zone in 1903 under the terms of the Panamanian U S Canal Convention Under its provisions the 8 U S C 1403 was modified to include language that persons born in the Canal Zone or in Panama itself on or after February 26 1904 to a parent who was or formerly was a United States national derived U S birthright citizenship 83 In 1906 Congress passed legislation to allow persons born in unincorporated territories to be naturalized under special provisions 84 The Jones Shafroth Act of 1917 conferred nationality with citizenship rights upon all inhabitants of Puerto Rico regardless of when their birth occurred in the territory 85 In 1927 U S nationals of the U S Virgin Islands were granted citizenship rights 86 American Samoa became a U S territory in 1929 and its inhabitants became non citizen nationals 87 Since passage of the Nationality Act of 1940 non citizen nationals may transmit their non citizen U S nationality to children born abroad 88 The Philippine Independence Act became effective in 1946 and thereafter Filipinos did not have U S nationality 89 The residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands came under U S jurisdiction in 1947 pursuant to an arrangement with the United Nations but it was not included as a territory at that time 80 U S nationals of Guam by the Organic Act of 1950 were conferred the rights of citizenship 90 In 1976 the Trust Territories became the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were admitted as a territory and inhabitants were conferred U S nationality with the rights of citizens 80 Co administration of Panama and the Canal Zone commenced on October 1 1979 and thereafter U S nationality could not be acquired 91 Current scheme EditAcquisition of nationality Edit A judge swears in a new citizen New York 1910 There are various ways a person can acquire United States nationality either at birth by naturalization or through court decisions and or treaties 92 34 Birth within the United States Edit Main articles Citizenship Clause Birthright citizenship in the United States and Jus soli Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that 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 93 The language has been codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 section 301 a 94 Regardless of the status of the parent unless they are in the employ of a foreign government birth within the territory confers nationality 26 28 94 The Supreme Court has not explicitly ruled whether children born in the United States to unauthorized migrants present in the country are birthright nationals but it is generally presumed they are 94 95 96 Birth certificates from U S jurisdictions are typically acceptable proof of nationality 94 Through birth abroad to United States citizens Edit See also jus sanguinis and Birth certificate Consular reports of birth for individuals born overseas A State Department certification of birth abroad issued prior to 1990 For children born abroad a Consular Report of Birth Abroad may be requested to confirm entitlement as a national Section 301 c of the Nationality Act of 1952 extends automatic nationality at birth to children born abroad to two parents who are U S nationals as long as one of the parents resided for any length of time in the United States or its possessions Section 301 g establishes that to attain automatic nationality for a child born abroad to a citizen and a foreign national residency in the United States or its possessions is also required 94 Time served as active military service was considered equivalent to residence in the U S 97 For children with one national parent requirements vary depending on when they were born and whether the parents were married 98 A State Department certification of report of birth issued between 1990 and 2010 Legitimate children Edit Automatic nationality is extended based upon the law applicable at the time of the child s birth 99 If a birth abroad occurred after May 24 1934 but prior to December 23 1952 the U S national parent must have resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years with five of them after the age of fourteen 97 If a birth abroad occurred after December 24 1952 but prior to November 13 1986 the U S national parent must have been the legal and genetic or gestational parent and have resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years with five of them after the age of fourteen 98 If the birth occurred on or after November 14 1986 the U S national must have resided in the United States for five years two of them after the age of fourteen previous to the birth of the child 94 98 Illegitimate children Edit A State Department consular report of birth abroad issued beginning 2011 Automatic nationality is extended based upon the law applicable at the time of the child s birth 99 If the birth occurred prior to or after October 14 1940 to a U S mother who had at any time resided in the United States or its possessions or to a U S father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years with five of them after the age of sixteen as long as the child resided in the United States for five years prior to the age of majority 100 If the birth occurred between January 13 1941 and December 23 1952 to a U S mother who had at any time resided in the United States or its possessions or to a U S father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years with five of them after the age of sixteen 100 If the child was born between December 24 1952 and November 13 1986 to a U S mother who had resided in the United States or its possessions for one year or to a U S father who had legitimized the child during its minority and who had resided in the United States or its possessions for ten years with five of them after the age of fourteen 101 If the child was born between November 14 1986 and June 11 2017 to a U S mother who had resided in the United States or its possessions for one year or to a U S father who had resided in the United States or its possessions five years before the child s birth with two of them after the age of fourteen 98 In addition the father had to prove a biological relationship agree to financially support the child and formally legitimize the child prior to its majority 18 years old 71 102 In 2017 in a unanimous decision in the case of Sessions v Morales Santana 137 S Ct 1678 2017 the Supreme Court struck down the unequal residence requirement for unmarried parents to pass on nationality to their children born abroad ruling that the equal but longer term of five years residency should apply until Congress amended the law 103 104 Adoptions Edit Prior to 2000 adoptees had to be naturalized and could be subject to deportation in later life for various offenses 102 Adopted children born on or before February 26 1983 are subject to the law in effect at the time they were adopted 105 With passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 effective for children under eighteen or born on or after February 27 2001 foreign adoptees of U S nationals brought to the United States by a legal custodial parent in their minority automatically derive nationality upon legal entry to the country and finalization of the adoption process 102 105 Birth in outlying possessions Edit Message in the passport of an American Samoan stating that the passport holder is a national not citizen of the U S For people born in U S territories or possessions nationality hinges upon whether they were born prior to the area being covered by U S sovereignty during a period of U S sovereignty or after U S sovereignty was terminated 106 Separate sections of the Nationality Act of 1952 handle territories that the United States has acquired over time such as Alaska 8 U S C 1404 and Hawaii 8 U S C 1405 both incorporated and unincorporated Puerto Rico 8 U S C 1402 the U S Virgin Islands 8 U S C 1406 and Guam 8 U S C 1407 Each of these sections confer nationality on persons living in these territories as of a certain date and usually confer native born status on persons born in incorporated territories after that date 107 Specified effective dates in the territories include April 11 1899 for Guam and Puerto Rico 108 January 17 1917 for the U S Virgin Islands 109 and November 4 1986 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 110 Since passage of the Nationality Act of 1952 people born in these territories acquire nationality at birth 107 Congress has conferred birthright nationality through legislation to persons born in all inhabited territories except American Samoa and Swains Island who are granted the status of non citizen nationals 110 111 A December 12 2019 ruling by U S District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down the special status 8 U S C 1408 1 of American Samoans as non citizen nationals as unconstitutional holding that any State Department policy that provides that the citizenship provisions of the Constitution do not apply to persons born in American Samoa violates the 14th Amendment 112 Government attorneys had argued that Such a novel holding would be contrary to the decisions of every court of appeals to have considered the question inconsistent with over a century of historical practice by all three branches of the United States government and conflict with the strong objection of the local government of American Samoa 112 Waddoups stayed his ruling on December 13 pending appellate review so it did not take immediate effect 112 On June 15 2021 the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the ruling 113 Naturalization Edit A certificate of naturalization 1955 A person who was not born a United States national may acquire U S nationality through a process known as naturalization 114 Eligibility for naturalization Edit See also Ideological restrictions on naturalization in U S law To become naturalized in the United States an applicant must be at least eighteen years of age at the time of filing a legal permanent resident of the United States and have had a status of a legal permanent resident in the United States for five years before applying 114 115 A minimum physical presence in the territory for two and a half years is required and absences of over six months reset the time frame Persons married to and living with a U S national are eligible for a reduced residency period of three years with half of it requiring physical presence For the period immediately preceding application persons must have three months residence established in the jurisdiction in which they are filing and must remain continuously in residence until completion of the granting of nationality 114 Non citizen nationals of U S possessions are eligible for naturalization upon establishing residency in a state 116 The territory of the United States for the purposes of determining a person s period of residence includes the fifty states the District of Columbia Puerto Rico the U S Virgin Islands Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands 117 specifically excluding residence in American Samoa except for American Samoans seeking naturalization 118 A person holding up their certificate of derivative citizenship 2010 Some exemptions from permanent residency exist for certain qualifying naturalization applicants For example since 1940 an immigrant who honorably served in the U S military during a designated period of hostility may naturalize without having first been a permanent resident During peace time a foreigner s honorable military service reduces the residency requirement to one year 119 120 121 A legal but not permanent immigrant who successfully completed the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program may naturalize without first having been a permanent resident 120 Notes 2 Similarly an immigrant who has made extraordinary contributions such as scientists or Olympic athletes can be exempted from residency as well as the physical presence requirement and prohibitions for support of totalitarianism and or communism 120 The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 provided that a minor child born abroad to a U S national parent who had not satisfied the residency requirements for nationality at birth could qualify for special naturalization In lieu of the parent a child may also qualify under this process if the child s grandparent has satisfied the five year residency in the United States with two of those years occurring after the child reached the age of 14 Eligible children are not required to meet any other requirements for naturalization 102 Process for naturalization Edit See also American Civics Test Questions and answers for the civics portion of the citizenship test Applicants must apply for naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and pay requisite fees 119 They must demonstrate good moral character evidenced by a lack of a criminal history and must pass a test on United States history and civics The questions are publicly available on the web and require the applicant to answer ten out of one hundred possible questions 114 Most applicants must also have a working knowledge of the English language demonstrated by testing their basic ability in reading and writing rather than fluency Long term permanent residents are exempt from the language test For example a person who is over age fifty with twenty years of residency or over fifty five with fifteen years of residency can opt to take the civics test in their original language Persons over age sixty five with twenty years residency may be given a shorter list of questions and those with physical or mental disadvantages are exempt from either the language or civics examinations 114 Granting of nationality is contingent upon taking an Oath of Allegiance however since 2000 an exception has been made for people with diminished physical or mental capacity 114 Loss of nationality Edit See also List of former United States citizens who relinquished their nationality and List of denaturalized former citizens of the United States A Certificate of Loss of Nationality signifying that the bearer has relinquished or renounced U S nationality The United States has a lengthy history of involuntary expatriation loss of nationality 123 From 1907 naturalized persons who returned to their country of origin for two or more years could be expatriated as could native born nationals who moved abroad and took allegiance to another nation Married women were automatically expatriated upon marriage to foreign men or men who were unable to qualify for naturalization 124 125 From 1940 reasons for involuntary termination of nationality included service to a foreign government or in foreign armed forces voting in a foreign election military desertion treason or evidence of dual nationality except for possession of a passport 124 The Supreme Court s interpretation of expatriation was made clear in Mackenzie v Hare in 1915 with the ruling that Ethel Mackenzie s conduct choosing to marry a non national was a voluntary acceptance to be denationalized In the case of Savorgnan v United States in 1950 the Court ruled that not knowing the consequences of one s actions was equally voluntary expatriation The 1958 decision in Perez v Brownell which upheld denaturalization for foreign voting marked a turning point and the decision was reversed in 1967 in the ruling for Afroyim v Rusk 387 U S 253 which found that a for a person s voluntary action to initiate a loss of nationality an inference of abandonment by the action must have been present By 1978 the decision in Vance v Terrazas made it clear that a specific intent to expatriate must exist to lose nationality 126 In 1986 8 U S C 1481 a was amended based on these court decisions to affirm that the intention to relinquish nationality must exist when performing a voluntary act for loss of nationality to occur 127 The State Department issued a partial list of actions such as paying taxes or recording a will in the United States which would indicate intent to retain a national identity or using a foreign passport when entering the United States or registering with a foreign political party which might indicate an intent to relinquish nationality but advised each case was to be reviewed in context Nationals were advised to write a statement advising that their actions were not an intent to give up their nationality and file it with an embassy or consulate official 128 In 1990 Section 1481 was revised again to reflect a new policy of the State Department to presume that an individual did not intend to give up nationality if the person performed a potentially expatriating act Based on a consular memorandum this meant that for example acquisition of nationality in another nation which included a routine declaration of allegiance or accepting foreign employment in a non policy position of another nation should result in the assumption that the person had no intention of relinquishing their nationality through their actions 129 From that time the United States effectively has allowed nationals to acquire new nationality while remaining a U S national thereby holding multiple nationalities and has ceased seeking records of newly nationalized persons abroad to evaluate their potential denationalization 130 Removing these items from the potential means of forfeiting U S nationality the Nationality Act retained as possible causes of denaturalization treason sedition or conspiring against the United States employment as an official with policy making authority of a foreign government and voluntary renunciation 131 Fraud committed in conjunction with an application for naturalization can also make nationality voidable 132 Typically prominent former Nazi officers who acquired U S nationality have had it revoked if the Office of Special Investigations has been able to prove that the naturalization was obtained by concealing their involvement in war crimes committed during World War II 133 134 They cannot be tried for crimes committed elsewhere thus are denaturalized for immigration violations and once they become aliens ordered deported 132 The process of denaturalization is a legal procedure which results in nullifying nationality 132 Based upon the 1943 Supreme Court decision of Schneiderman v United States clear and convincing evidence must be evaluated in processing a denaturalization action 135 United States Attorneys for the district in which a defendant resides bring suit in the jurisdiction s Federal District Court Juries are typically not present and the defendant may be compelled to testify Failure to testify may result in a presumption of guilt though defendants can plead against self incrimination 136 The standard of proof is not reasonable doubt but rather clear convincing and unequivocal evidence Decisions may be appealed in federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court 137 Once the legal process has concluded the Department of State issues a Certificate of Loss of Nationality 138 Renunciation of nationality or legal expatriation includes the voluntary relinquishment of a national identity and all rights and privileges associated with it 137 139 It is accomplished by making a formal declaration which is sworn before a designated authority in the United States during a time of war or abroad at any time to a consular officer 140 Evidence which clearly establishes the intent to expatriate must be approved and if there is doubt such as in the case where a declarant would become stateless the Department of State may be reluctant to accept the declaration 141 After an interview and counseling on the consequences of renunciation if the applicant wishes to proceed a fee is paid the declaration is made and a renunciation ceremony in which the applicant signs a Statement of Understanding and takes the Oath of Renunciation is held 142 People giving up U S nationality may be subject to an expatriation tax Originally under the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966 people determined to be giving up their nationality for the purpose of avoiding U S taxation were subject to ten years of continued taxation on their U S source income to prevent ex nationals from taking advantage of special tax incentives offered to foreigners investing in the United States 143 144 Since 2008 these provisions no longer apply instead ex citizens who meet certain asset or tax liability thresholds pay a capital gains tax on a deemed sale of their U S and non U S assets including retirement accounts regardless of their reasons for giving up citizenship 145 The Reed Amendment a 1996 law bars former nationals as inadmissible to the United States if the Attorney General finds that they renounced citizenship for purposes of avoiding taxes however it has never been enforced 146 Proposals such as the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act to rewrite the Reed Amendment and make it enforceable failed in committee in both 2012 and 2013 147 148 Dual nationality Edit The Supreme Court ruled in Kawakita v United States 343 U S 717 1952 that dual nationality is a long recognized status in the law and that a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both The mere fact he asserts the rights of one nationality does not without more mean that he renounces the other 149 In Schneider v Rusk 377 U S 163 1964 it found that persons who have been naturalized in the United States have the right to return to their native countries and to resume a former nationality while remaining a U S national This applies even if they never return to the United States 150 Since 1990 the State Department has allowed multiple nationalities 130 Official policy is one of recognition that such a status exists but the U S government does not endorse a policy of having multiple nationalities though it is permitted 151 Dual nationality may run counter to expectations of government agencies in matters of security clearance or access to classified information The State Department issued a memorandum in 2016 advising agencies of proper evaluation procedures to weigh the risks of plural nationality 152 Notes Edit Because the status of the parents was irrelevant except if they were in the employ as part of the military or diplomatic corps of a foreign government or Native American 26 28 U S born women could pass on their nationality to their children born in the United States 9 as could parents who themselves were part of a restricted group For example the Supreme Court ruled in United States v Wong Kim Ark 169 U S 649 1898 that children born in the United States to immigrants who were not eligible for naturalization were birthright citizens 29 Though bills have been introduced neither the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals nor DREAM Act allow unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to enlist in the military as a pathway to naturalization Enlistment requires verification of immigration status 122 See also EditUnited States v MathesonReferences EditCitations Edit Laskow 2017 The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states 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 Boll 2007 p 66 67 Stevens 1933 p Part II Guerry amp Rundell 2016 p 73 Escobar 2015 p 1 Boll 2007 p 114 United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women amp Chinkin 2003 pp 2 3 a b Stevens 1933 p 61 Part II Bickel 1973 p 369 Bickel 1973 p 370 a b Kerber 1998 pp xxiii 11 12 a b Rutherglen 2013 p 21 Isenberg 1998 p 45 Jefferson 1999 pp 219 220 Smith Milhollan amp Nelson 1981 p 195 Hoxie 2006 p 330 Bredbenner 1998 pp 18 19 a b Smith 1998 p 1 Sapiro 1984 p 3 Taparata 2016 Sapiro 1984 p 9 U S Senate Committee on Immigration 1933 p 19 Sapiro 1984 pp 9 10 Kerber 1998 p 41 a b c Rutherglen 2013 p 22 Miller 2018 pp 244 265 a b Rodriguez 2009 p 1366 Rodriguez 2009 p 1367 Civil War on the Western Border 2016 Sheridan 2002 p 3 Ginsburg 1979 pp 162 163 Smith Milhollan amp Nelson 1981 p 201 a b Spiro 2015 p 3 Sapiro 1984 p 10 a b Batlan 2020 p 319 a b c Kerber 1998 p 43 Hacker 2014 p 58 Batlan 2020 pp 319 320 324 MacDonald 2014 Cott 2009 pp 1466 1468 Batlan 2020 p 324 Bredbenner 1998 p 100 Cott 2009 p 1466 Cott 1998 p 1464 Sapiro 1984 p 12 Hacker 2014 p 59 Sharon 1950 p 780 Office of the Historian 2020 a b Cott 1998 p 1466 Cott 1998 p 1467 Olivares 2015 p 422 Sheridan 2002 p 7 Bruyneel 2004 p 30 Avalon Project 1933 a b Volpp 2005 p 420 Orfield 1934 p 110 Hacker 2014 pp 60 61 a b Augustine Adams 2001 p 102 Hacker 2014 a b Bredbenner 1998 p 244 Cott 1998 p 1469 Augustine Adams 2001 p 137 Augustine Adams 2001 pp 137 138 Augustine Adams 2001 p 138 Kerber 1998 pp 43 44 Augustine Adams 2001 pp 101 102 Augustine Adams 2001 p 104 Weinrib 2003 p 263 a b Weinrib 2003 p 224 a b Augustine Adams 2001 p 103 Weinrib 2003 p 257 Ginsburg 2017 p 1 Hein 2009 p 433 Hein 2009 pp 434 436 Hein 2009 p 443 Venator Santiago 2017 p 515 Villazor 2017 p 1676 a b c Villazor 2017 p 1673 a b c Lin 2019 p 1262 Flournoy Jr amp Hudson 1929 p 574 Villazor 2017 p 1697 Rodriguez Serna 2016 pp 7 8 Venator Santiago 2017 p 517 Weare 2017 p 149 Lin 2019 p 1260 Lin 2019 p 1259 Villazor 2017 pp 1710 1711 Villazor 2017 p 1707 Lin 2019 p 1257 Rodriguez Serna 2016 p 8 Gansallo amp Bernstein Baker 2016 p 570 Joint Committee on Printing 2007 p 16 a b c d e f Spiro 2015 p 10 Meese Forte amp Spalding 2005 pp 385 389 Erler West amp Marini 2007 p 67 a b Public Law 414 1952 p 236 a b c d Bureau of Consular Affairs 2017 a b Bureau of Consular Affairs 2014 a b Public Law 853 1940 p 1139 Public Law 414 1952 pp 236 238 239 a b c d Spiro 2015 p 11 Park 2017 Howe 2017 a b Policy Manual 2021b Weare 2017 p 148 a b Public Law 414 1952 pp 236 238 Public Law 414 1952 pp 236 237 Public Law 414 1952 p 237 a b Policy Manual 2021a Harvard Law Review 2017 p 1683 a b c Romo 2019 US court overturns American Samoa citizenship decision RNZ June 16 2021 Retrieved November 1 2021 a b c d e f Spiro 2015 p 12 Yang 1994 p 459 Michal 1992 p 140 US Code 2020 Michal 1992 p 141 a b Spiro 2015 p 14 a b c Wong amp Bonaguro 2020 p 99 Barros 2020 Irby 2019 Spiro 2015 p 7 a b Spiro 2015 p 8 Hacker 2014 pp 58 59 Spiro 2015 p 9 Kelly 1992 p 439 Kelly 1992 p 441 Kelly 1992 pp 442 444 a b Kelly 1992 pp 444 445 Kelly 1992 p 447 a b c Getschman 1988 p 289 Forliti 2013 The Times of Israel 2020 Getschman 1988 p 290 Getschman 1988 p 292 a b Getschman 1988 p 293 Kelly 1992 p 444 Aleinikoff 1986 pp 1475 1476 Worster 2012 p 2 Worster 2012 pp 3 4 Worster 2012 p 5 Worster 2012 pp 7 9 Worster 2017 pp 85 86 Worster 2017 pp 87 88 Buss Hryck amp Granwell 2007 p 11 Puzzanghera 2012 Stcherbatcheff 2014 Kelly 1992 pp 429 430 Kramer 1965 p 283 Kelly 1992 p 445 Department of State 2016 Bibliography Edit Aleinikoff T Alexander June 1986 Theories of Loss of Citizenship Michigan Law Review Ann Arbor Michigan University of Michigan Law School 84 7 1471 1503 doi 10 2307 1288994 ISSN 0026 2234 JSTOR 1288994 OCLC 5544296499 Retrieved March 13 2021 Augustine Adams Kif Fall 2001 Gendered States A Comparative Construction of Citizenship and Nation Virginia Journal of International Law Charlottesville Virginia John Bassett Moore Society of International Law 41 1 93 139 ISSN 0042 6571 OCLC 93293362 Retrieved March 4 2021 via HeinOnline Barros Aline September 3 2020 US Court Clears Path for Fast Track Citizenship for Foreign Born Military Service 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and Sex Based Discrimination in Nguyen v INS Columbia Journal of Gender and Law New York New York Columbia University School of Law 12 1 222 273 doi 10 7916 cjgl v12i1 2449 ISSN 1062 6220 Retrieved March 4 2021 Wong Cara Bonaguro Jonathan November 2020 The Value of Citizenship and Service to the Nation PDF RSF The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences New York New York Russell Sage Foundation 6 3 96 116 doi 10 7758 rsf 2020 6 3 05 ISSN 2377 8253 OCLC 8866861962 S2CID 226282857 Archived PDF from the original on March 1 2021 Worster William Thomas Fall 2017 Human Rights Law and the Taxation Consequences for Renouncing Citizenship Renouncing Citizenship Saint Louis University Law Journal St Louis Missouri Saint Louis University School of Law 62 1 85 101 ISSN 0036 3030 OCLC 7249732835 Archived from the original on March 7 2020 Retrieved March 13 2021 Worster William Thomas 2012 Renouncing U S Citizenship Through Expatriation In Davis Michael H Rizzo Danielle M Vrapi Olsi eds The Consular Practice Handbook Washington D C American Immigration Lawyers Association ISBN 978 1 57370 308 6 SSRN 2429682 Yang Philip Q Autumn 1994 Explaining Immigrant Naturalization The International Migration Review New York New York SAGE Publications for Center for Migration Studies of New York 28 3 449 477 doi 10 2307 2546816 ISSN 0197 9183 JSTOR 2546816 OCLC 425856564 PMID 12345790 Retrieved March 12 2021 Acquisition of U S Citizenship at Birth by a Child Born Abroad Bureau of Consular Affairs Washington D C U S Department of State 2014 Archived from the original on March 28 2015 Retrieved March 8 2021 Acquisition of U S Citizenship at Birth by a Child Born Abroad Bureau of Consular Affairs Washington D C U S Department of State 2017 Archived from the original on March 3 2021 Retrieved March 8 2021 American Samoa and the Citizenship Clause A Study in Insular Cases Revisionism PDF Harvard Law Review Cambridge Massachusetts Harvard Law School 130 6 1680 1703 April 10 2017 ISSN 0017 811X OCLC 7023192332 Archived PDF from the original on October 27 2017 Retrieved October 27 2017 Civil Rights Act of 1866 Civil War on the Western Border org Kansas City Missouri 2016 Archived from the original on December 23 2018 Retrieved December 16 2020 Convention on the Nationality of Women Inter American December 26 1933 Avalon Project New Haven Connecticut Yale Law School December 26 1933 Archived from the original on December 27 2020 Retrieved December 27 2020 Dual Citizenship Security Clearance Implications PDF careers state gov Washington D C U S Department of State February 2016 Archived PDF from the original on December 31 2020 Retrieved March 13 2021 Former Nazi Camp Guard 94 Who Lived in US for Years to Be Deported The Times of Israel Jerusalem Associated Press March 6 2020 Archived from the original on February 2 2021 Retrieved March 13 2021 Policy Manual Chapter 2 Becoming a U S Citizen US Citizenship and Immigration Services Washington D C 2021 Archived from the original on February 22 2021 Retrieved March 9 2021 Policy Manual Chapter 4 Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship after Birth INA 320 US Citizenship and Immigration Services Washington D C 2021 Archived from the original on March 1 2021 Retrieved March 12 2021 Public Law 414 PDF Washington D C US Congress June 27 1952 Archived PDF from the original on January 26 2021 Retrieved March 8 2021 a href wiki Template Cite journal title Template Cite journal cite journal a Cite journal requires journal help Public Law 853 PDF Washington D C US Congress October 14 1940 Archived PDF from the original on March 8 2021 Retrieved March 8 2021 a href wiki Template Cite journal title Template Cite journal cite journal a Cite journal requires journal help Title 8 Chapter 12 USC 1101 Definitions www uscis gov Washington D C US House of Representatives Archived from the original on April 23 2018 Retrieved March 12 2021 Further reading EditRobert James McWhirter 2007 The citizenship flowchart American Bar Association ISBN 978 1 59031 921 5 External links EditImmigration and Nationality Act U S Citizenship Information USCIS U S Naturalization USCIS U S Citizenship Laws amp Policy U S State Department U S regulations regarding loss and restoration of citizenship U S Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 Acquisition of U S Nationality in U S Territories and Possessions Free Online U S Citizenship Practice Test USCIS Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title United States nationality law amp oldid 1076864117, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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