Ask the U.S. Consul
Dual Citizenship

At the US Consulate we receive many inquiries about dual citizenship. With so many Americans married to Mexican citizens, or coming here to live and buy property, it is a perennial issue. While I cannot address how to go about acquiring Mexican citizenship, I can tell you how the U.S. government views the idea of taking on a second nationality.

Dual nationality can be acquired in many ways: a child born in Mexico to American parents may be a dual national by birth; some countries confer citizenship through a variety of mechanisms, based on their own laws and regulations. For example, a U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or after residing in the country for a number of years. U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship over another. A person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. Government basically assumes that U.S. citizens intend to retain United States citizenship when they obtain naturalization in a foreign state, take oaths of allegiance to a foreign state, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government. When it comes to the attention of a consular officer, as the result of an individual’s inquiry or an individual’s application for registration or a passport, that they have performed an act made potentially expatriating by Sections 349(a)(1), 349(a)(2), 349(a)(3) or 349(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I knew you would want the legal part), the consular officer will simply ask the applicant if there was intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship when performing the act.

If the answer is no, the consular officer will certify that it was not the person’s intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship and, consequently, find that the person has retained U.S. citizenship. If the answer is yes to the intent question, that is a completely different matter.

The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national lives generally has a stronger claim to that person’s allegiance.

Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship. Most countries permit a person to renounce or otherwise lose citizenship.

Some people have asked how this will affect their taxes. If you retain your American nationality, you are still required to file a tax return and pay taxes if that is what you do now—you should consult the IRS for a more detailed explanation.

For information on how to apply for Mexican nationality, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores) office here in Mérida. They have the current information and procedures.

US Consulate
Calle 60, No 338K x 29 y 31
Colonia Alcala Martin
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico  97050
Tel: (999) 942 5700
Fax: (999) 942 5759
Email: [email protected]