Presidential Citizenship

Can an American president possess dual citizenship at the time he holds office?

Why not? AFAIK know, nothing in the Constitution prevents it. In the past, US law precluded dual citizenship, but not any more.

US law tolerates, but does not recognize, dual citizenship.

There doesn’t seem to be any legal bar. However, this is pretty hypthetical and probably will be for quite some time. It’s hard to imagine such an individual getting nominated and elected.

On the contrary, I think most of the early presidents would have been British subjects from birth. I don’t think they would have lost that status on becoming US citizens when the US was established.

Two recent presidents have had Irish great-grandfathers. A candidate with an Irish grandparent would, in all probability, be an Irish citizen from birth, but it is hard to see that this would be an issue in the campaign.

Actually, peepthis, the consular officials I have talked with and the previous web research I’ve done suggests that the United States accepts dual citizenship but discourages the practice.

The experience I’ve had with the US Consulate in Shanghai vis-a-vis my daughters dual citizenship issue bears out the discouragement scenario. YMMV

The Constitution grandfathered in anyone in the U.S. at the time it was adopted. Since the early presidents were involved in revolting against England, it’s unlikely they kept any British citizenship once they became American citizens.

Rebellion against the crown doesn’t cause you to lose your British subject status. (If it did, you couldn’t subsequently be tried for treason.) Nor can a British subject unilaterally renounce his British subject status, except in accordance with a law allowing this.

What you’re looking for in this case is either a treaty between the US and the UK at the conclusion of the war, or UK legislation at the conclusion of the war, which explicitly provides that the citizens of the new US cease to be British subjects, or that they can choose to cease to be British subjects.

I’m not aware of anything like that, but I’m open to correction.

As a couple of pposters have already stated, U.S. law discourages, but does not prohibit, dual citizenship. You can find details on the State Deptartment’s Web site at

Not true, actually. A candidate with an Irish parent would be an Irish citizen from birth. A candidate with an Irish grandparent would merely be eligible for Irish citizenship, should s/he choose to apply for it. See Department of Justice website.

Hey, take it up with the Boss Man. I think we’re both saying the same thing though: that the US tolerates but doesn’t recognize (or, as you say, accepts) dual citizenship.

My wife’s father was born in Ireland (Rosconnon IIRC) and a year or so ago I started to look into what I needed to do to get her registered as an Irish citizen, but never followed through. We were joking that getting her registered as an Irish citizen would make it easier to move there after I retired.

That’s Roscommon, and you might want to read that link if you’re seriously considering it. It most certainly would make it easier for you to move here.

My father was born in Ireland, and I am automatically an Irish citizen by Irish law. So I have dual Irish American citizenship. What’s especially cool is that I have rights in the European Union as well, should I ever go there.

The Irish consulate offered to send me a passport application. I could use that to prove citizenship, but no further paperwork is apparently necessary.

The Constitution and subsequent laws and court rulings do not acknowledge dual citizenship with respect to the requirements for the presidency. As long as you meet the constitutional requirements, any other citizenship status is irrelevant.
I have dual citizenship, too.

I’m not running for president. It would be a step down in my career if I did.
What might be interesting is for a dual citizenship president traveling overseas who is detained in the country of his/her other citizenship. On the one hand, US law is of no help in getting him out. OTOH, that country would be making a very foolish, and serious, mistake. :smiley:

Random Thought: Michael Dukakis’ parents were both Greek immigrants. I don’t know how Greece’s citizenship laws work, but it’s possible he was a dual citizen. In fact, any presidential candidate with one or two immigrant parents might have been a dual citizen, and maybe never even gave it a second thought.

Well, strictly speaking, the fact that his is a US citizen will be irrelevant in the country of his other citizenship. But the fact that he is the US president means that he is entitled to sovereign immunity as the head of a foreign state, and he doesn’t lose this entitlement merely because he has local citizenship. So, as a matter of local law, he couldn’t be arrested.