American and British Citizenship(can I get it?)

I’m a Canadian, but my mother was born American and my father was born British(I like to say that I’m a quintessential Canadian). My parents were not married when I was born, and I don’t believe that they had been living together long enough for their relationship to count as a common-law marriage. My mom says that I can’t get either citizenship because they weren’t married. My parents did end up get married when I was 11 or so. I have several questions:

  1. Can I get British or American citizenship? Both? What would I have to do?

  2. Is there a time limit I should know about? i.e. Do I have to apply before a certain age?

  3. What benefits would either citizenship grant me? Any responsibilities? I’ve heard that having dual citizenship can cause problems at border crossings, so would it be worth it if I wasn’t likely to travel to either country often? Feel free to post your opinion.

  4. If I were to get triple citizenship, what fun things could I do with it?

Because your father has UK citizenship (if it was just your mother, you might have problems depending on when you were born), you can apply for it. My parents were both born in the UK, and I have the papers but haven’t applied yet. When I get around to it, it would mean that should I happen to want to move there, get a job, etc, this should be fairly easy.

This page (for going UK->Canada, still looking) describes the current situation with regards to dual citizenship - it’s ok. Ah - here’s some info regarding UK passport application.

Of course, the only answers that matter are from the Home Office, so I’d check that out if I were you. (Specifically this page about 1/3 the way down, which seems to have the links you’re looking for) If I find out where the forms I got came from I’ll post it.

With respect to problems and/or the addition of US citizenship, I have no idea. :slight_smile:

Number 7 seems to indicate that I am eligible for British citizenship, I’m not so sure about American. Sec 309c isn’t very clear(to me). I can’t find a good definition for nationality(the BCIS glossary says that it’s the country in which the person is considered a national. A national is a person owing permanent allegiance to a state). So, maybe I’m eligible(assuming my mother spend at least a year at some point in the States), but my gut says that I’m not. Could someone who knows this stuff clear this up for me. Also, does 309c say that as long as my mother spent one year in the US, in a row, at any time in her life, I’m eligible? That seems wrong to me.

Also, any thoughts on whether it’d be worth it would be welcome.

You cannot hold dual UK/US citizenship. Don’t ask me why- I’m a Briton transplanted to Florida, and I’ve been trying to get it for years. You can, however, hold US/Canadian OR Canadian/UK dual citizenship, if that helps…

By nature of your mother being a US citizen you are a US citizen as well. However, the year of your birth may call this into question because of changing US laws with respect to overseas births to US citizens.

My ladlady in Australia was born under similar circumstance (Oz not Canada). I believe she obtained as US Passport (and thus confirmed US citizenship) by way of her American mother, and obtained a UK Passport (and thus confirmed UK citizenship) by way of her British father. She also has an Australian Passport by way of being born in Australia.

Is this all legal in the respective countries? I don’t know. I do know none of the respective countries all know of her various citizenships. YMMV.

Please bump this tomorrow morning, or I’ll forget. I have lots of info for you, but it’s at work.

However, I will need to know a bit of info about your mom to answer the U.S. part: How old was she when she moved to Canada, and what (if any) chunks of time has she lived in the U.S.?

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal (U.S.)

P.S. For U.S. citizenship, there is currently no upper age limit for essentially claiming something you had at birth. Derivative citizenship works by operation of law; the piece of paper (U.S. passport or Certificate of Citizenship or Report of U.S. Citizen Born Abroad) is just documentary proof of an already existing situation. It’s not like naturalization, where you have to pass an exam and meet other specific criteria that involve actual work on your part. More tomorrow, work permitting…

You most certainly can, as doper kferr (and I’m sure a few others) can personally attest to.

There are three ways to become a citizen of the US:

  1. Be born in the US

  2. Have at least one parent who is a US citizen

  3. Become naturalized

For the OP, if your mom was a US citizen at the time of your birth you are also a US citizen. If she was born here, then she was a US citizen unless at some point she surrended that citizenship for another.

There probably are some finicky details, but the those are the basic rules. Proving you’re a citizen might also involve some paperwork.

True, but I started with US and gained UK, it appears dutchboy208 is doing it the other direction.

Some of the finicky details include:

  1. if you only have one USC parent, s/he must have lived in the U.S. for a certain amount of time before your birth. I can’t remember that figure right now, because this doesn’t come up very often. I’ll look it up, hopefully later today; and

  2. a few years back there was a Supreme Court case involving the daughter of a Filipina mother and a USC father, who never married; the law says that if the parents are unmarried and the father is the USC, he must formally recognize the child as his, in writing, before the child turns 18 and agree to provide financial support. The father in question finally came around, but not until after the child was 18; the Supreme Court ruled that she was NOT entitled to US citizenship. I can look this one up later, too, if you’re interested. IIRC the decision struck down the claim of equal protection to both genders of USC parents, on the basis that biology is not equal; it’s always apparent who a child’s mother is, but not necessarily a child’s father.

I thought that so long as you officially held citizenship in any forgeign nation you couldn’t have US citizenship?

Not necessarily true. You are supposed to “forswear other allegiances,” and you are supposed to give up titles of nobility when naturalizing in the U.S. But the State Dept’s official position is that dual citizenship is possible, if not encouraged because of the complications it can cause. And as a practical matter, frequently the U.S. Government has no way of knowing what other citizenship(s) you may hold. My college roomie is Salvadoran and American, and is now working on her third passport (U.K.; she married a Brit and lives there now).

The areas where one can lose U.S. citizenship are things like a) serving in a foreign military and b) holding policy-level employment for a foreign government (Valdas Adamkus, the leader of Lithuania, is a former USC; I believe he renounced his citizenship when he went back to Lithuania).

If Rysto succeeded in his/her quest, would he/she be liable for income tax in all three countries?

Could I, as an American, get dual citizenship in some tax haven and then stiff uncle sam?

Makes no difference. I know there’s at least one Brit-born Doper who can confirm this, but I can’t for the life of me remember her name (think it starts with a C though …)

Eleusis, the U.S. subjects its citizens to income tax regardless of their residency, but it’s fairly unique (yes I know that’s poor grammar) in doing so. I know that the U.K. doesn’t, so Rysto won’t have to worry about British taxes just by gaining U.K. citizenship.

We just had a firmwide training conference call on this a couple of weeks ago. It’s a very messy issue, and frankly it gave me a headache and anyone who wants to know for sure should consult a tax attorney.

Basically, if the U.S. decides you have renounced citizenship (or even permanent residency) in order to avoid taxation, they can 1) tax you anyway, and 2) prevent you from re-entering the U.S. in certain circumstances. And if you are above a certain asset level, there is a presumption that the renunciation was in order to avoid taxation. (The asset level was rather high IIRC, something like $500,000, so I doubt most of us would have this problem.) I can dig out my notes if anyone’s interested, but probably not today…maybe I can write something up next week.

Also, if you are a guy, you might want to check into whether you would be required to register for the draft (depending on your age, of course).

I’m a dual US/Canadian citizen (born in Canada to two American parents), and have been attending graduate school in the U.S. for the last two years. The tax situation is indeed complicated. Essentially, any income earned in country A is taxed by country A first; then, if the amount of tax that would have been charged by country B is greater, country B takes the difference between the two amounts.

I believe that every U.S. citizen whose income is above a certain level (something ridiculously low, like $5000 US) is required to file, even if they don’t owe. Canada ties taxation to residency status, but your post seems to imply that you’re a resident of Canada so you’ll have to keep filing those T1s.

As for what things you can do with multiple citizenship… The main advantage of having multiple citizenships is that you can freely visit, move to and work in any of the countries you hold citizenship in.

A good page on how dual citizenship is treated by the U.S. government is the Dual Citizenship FAQ.

I don’t know who the doper is, but my father, mother and sister are all dual citizens of the US and UK.

My mom was born to Canadian parents in Boston in 1956. I’m not sure how she was born in Boston, because as far as I know, she lived her whole life in Canada. I’ve emailed her about this.

As for me, I was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1985. I’ve never lived in the States, but it doesn’t seem that that matters.

The answer may depend on your mom’s residence history, then. When you find out what block(s) of time she’s lived in the U.S., then please post it here. (You will probably need to be able to document it somehow.) I’m up to my neck today, so I can’t go poking around for you, but maybe next week.

My wife is a Colombian National. She is also a naturalized American Citizen. She holds citizenship in both countries. Her status is not recognized by the USA, which considers her only a US Naturalized Citizen, but is recognized by the Colombian government.