Questions on Becoming a US Citizen

I am a Canadian citizen living in Canada, but I love America, what would be the easiest way for me to get a US citizenship?

I have a secure job which I perform from my PC, and can work from anywhere there is an internet connection; my income is just over 10k a month and comes from overseas. I don’t have any special skills so to speak other than a college diploma, and I am married, no kids.

I wouldn’t want to work in the US but really would love the option of living there as well as keeping a home in Canada. Although being able to work would be a nice option down the road.

Is it possible to have dual citizenship? Canada & US? What would have to happen in order to have dual citizenship? I would love the option of being a citizen of both countries, this way I could come and go as I please.

Also, I’ve heard of these citizenship lotteries that take place every year where the US government grants x number of people a US citizenship, is there any truth to this, and if I was a lottery winner, could I keep both citizenships?

I love America and would move there tomorrow if I could, but I also love Canada too, so if I could somehow manage to keep both, that would be my ideal goal.

Not to put too fine a point on it, in what way would be in America’s interest to grant you citizenship? It seems you can work there perfectly fine via the 'net.

Aside from “I love America” why exactly do you want American citizenship? What’s in it for you? Just wanting it for unspecified reasons:

is hardly going to cut it.

I’m not sure of all aspects of your situation, but I’m pretty sure that in most avenues to citizenship an extended period of residency is required within the US, IIRC 5 years.

You will be unable to keep both citizenships. As part of the oaths required for citizenship, you would be required to renounce all other citizenships.

I’m afraid this is not true, you can have dual US/Canadian citizenship. Paging Eva Luna to this thread for TSD on immigration issues.

Or Frank, who IIRC is a dual citizen of the US and Greater Canukistan. :slight_smile:

I am afraid you are simply incorrect here.

(I am a dual US/Australian citizen. I was not called upon to renouce my American citizenship, nor was I required to renounce it for reasons related to obtaining my Australian one.)

This is false. Millions of naturalized citizens hold dual citizenships.

You need to be physically present in the US for an extended period of time to gain citizenship. Either you start with an H1B visa, which is a working visa sponsored by a US company, or you marry a US citizen. I’m sure there are other ways, but these two are probably the most common.

ETA: You need to get a green card before you get citizenship. Working/Marriage visa > Green Card > Citizenship.

While dual citizenship is perfectly fine, it does depend on which citizenship you had first. If you’re a U.S. citizen to begin with and become a Canadian citizen, you’re required to take the following oath:

Nothing there about renouncing other citizenships. However,If you start Canadian and try to get U.S. citizenship, though, you have to take the following oath (bolding mine):

So, in short: dual citizenship is certainly allowed, but the U.S. does not want people who naturalize as U.S. citizens to keep their old citizenship as well. It can get even more complicated if the old country doesn’t allow renunciation of citizenship, or doesn’t recognize the U.S. citizenship oath as affecting the old citizenship.

I’d post more, but I have to run off to work. More later, hopefully.

Dual citizenship is certainly allowed. Whether you can become naturalized in the US without renouncing other citizenships is a different question to which I don’t know the answer. If you start as a US citizen and become naturalized in Canada (as I did), you are a dual citizen. Also some countries don’t accept renunciations so you could become a dual citizen that way.

As for the OP, it seems unlikely to me that you get an immigration visa to the US on the facts presented. Of course, you could spend 3 months in the US, then 3 in Canada and so on. But beware of US taxes. You may have to pay them for all the money you earn while living in the US.

Yes, and as a US citizen you must file a US federal tax return regardless of whether you are living in the US. I would qualify to be a US citizen – I’m a permanent resident who’s been living in the US for more than 10 years – but I’m not going to become a citizen, because of those tax laws that apply to citizens living outside the US.

To clarify something that has been hinted at previously.

The “lottery” is a immigrant visa lottery, not a citizenship lottery. It is sometimes called the “Green Card* Lottery” but is more officially known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. What you “win” is an immigrant visa, which permits you to have Legal Permanent Resident status within the US. LPRs have most rights and obligations of citizens, but unlike citizens they can be deported and can’t vote. Not every country is eligible every year; the ineligible countries are announced yearly. In 2012, Canadian citizens are not eligible.

However, let’s say Canada becomes eligible and let’s say you do win the Lottery. Once you are an LPR, and reside in good behavior within the United States for 5 years, you may apply to naturalize. Barring any specific reason not to naturalize you (including but not limited to: fugitive from justice, terrorist watch list, certain diseases, registering to vote in a Federal election, lying to an immigration official, etc.) you will generally become a citizen once the bureacratic requirements are satisfied (the fee, the right forms, the interview, the English test, the civics test).

*the Legal Permanent Resident ID card is no longer green, but the name persists.

Exactly what I was driving at (but didn’t have time to elaborate on.) The excellent Dual Citizenship FAQ discusses this further; see in particular questions 2, 5, 8, and 9. Basically, as a matter of policy the U.S. State Department only rarely pursues cases in which someone naturalizes as a U.S. citizen but still allows their old country to treat them as though their never renounced their old citizenship. Canada, in particular, doesn’t recognize the clause in the U.S. Naturalization Oath as a renunciation of Canadian citizenship; you have to actually sign a form in the presence of Canadian officials to renounce your citizenship. This is only a matter of policy, though, not a matter of law; if you really cheesed off the State Department for some reason, or (more likely) some future U.S. administration decided to crack down on naturalized citizens who retain their old citizenships, you could still lose your naturalization.

One thing people forget here is your citizenship status is an agreement between you and the specific country. The United States can make you say words renouncing citizenship as part of their naturalization ceremony, but your home country’s reaction very often will be “uh, nope, he’s still a citizen!”. It varies from country to country, some countries I believe will drop your citizenship automatically if you take on another (although in practice unless you do something stupid like enter with the wrong passport they probably won’t find out), but many won’t.

I find it hard to believe that saying the renunciation words during the ceremony implies that you specifically need to go to your home country’s government and fill out all the forms to begin the renunciation process. I’d be very surprised if that ever becomes a requirement - in practice it would be impossible, given that many countries probably lack a specific procedure for this (either by design or by virtue of being a semi-failed state where the bureaucracy doesn’t function). I suspect almost everyone who is naturalized in the US doesn’t do this.

Askance, if the OP is describing his financials correctly then it is pretty obvious what the benefit would be for the US: if he keeps his current job he will be earning lots of money from overseas that can be taxed in the US. He sounds like the obvious candidate who uses less dollars in services than they pay in taxes!

That isn’t to say it is enough to get in, since USCIS doesn’t make case by case decisions like that, and usually has a specific set of guidelines that need to be met. Either way, none of these are direct paths to citizenship, you’d be applying for permanent residency or some sort of work permit first, and only after being in the US as a permanent resident for five years would you be eligible for citizenship.

I’ve been a US citizen for a few weeks now, and I remain a South African citizen too.

I know a Canadian who became a US Citizen (I met him when he was a Canadian citizen, and he later told me that he took the oath to become a US Citizen. I do believe that the oath does require one to state that they renounce other citizenships, though I do believe that Canada may not officially recognize this, so Canada may still consider him to be a citizen unless he formally renounces it according to Canadian law.

Now, I’m definitely not an immigration attorney, but it might be the case that if he continues to accept the benefits of Canadian citizenship, the US government may claim that his oath was in bad faith and revoke his US citizenship.

Anyway, OP, there is such a thing as Employment-based immigration visas. They are taken in the order received, until the number of immigrant slots allotted for the year runs out. In 2011, they were up to applications filed in 2005, near as I can figure.

In case this hasn’t become obvious yet, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney before and during the process of seeking an immigrant visa.

Not true, my mother was naturalized in the US, and last time we went to Canada to visit her relatives, we found out that Canada still considers her a citizen, and I’m a citizen, too. I’m planning on getting a Canadian passport, so that from now on when I visit Canada, I can just show the Canadian one going north, and the US one going south, and save some hassle. The US does not recognize dual citizenship, but doesn’t directly forbid it, so it’s up to the laws of the country your original citizenship is in. Canada allows and recognizes it.

Dual citizenship can be messy, and depends very much on which specific countries you are talking about, but I know tons of people who are dual US-Canadian citizens, including one who is a U.S. immigration lawyer and licensed to practice in both countries. (She is also a UK citizen by birth.)

Yes, there is a visa lottery, but it’s reserved for natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., a category that does not include Canadians. Further details here.

If you want to get a green card via employment, there is a ton of publicly available information. Basically, the vast majority of people who are not Nobel prize winners or the equivalent need a sponsoring U.S. employer, and the vast majority of those need to be able to show that there are not sufficient U.S. workers to do the proposed job.

If you’re lucky enough to get a green card, the wait is generally 5 years before you can apply for U.S. citizenship.

That’s the very short version, obviously. The devil is in the details.

Eva Luna, U.S Immigration Paralegal

I really doubt the dual citizenship would become a problem unless the US & Canada go to war. Against each other, that is…

I recently became dual-class Canadian/American. My new abilities include voting for Obama and not taking shit from border dudes. Disadvantages include having to file American income tax no matter where I later live in the world.

But it is not a quick or cheap process. First you need to pay money, wait and eventually get a green card - and then you need to live in the US for 5 years, or 3 if you’re married to an American. If you live outside the US for more than 3 months during that time you lose the green card and need to start over again. Following this time, you can pay more money, file forms, wait, do a Mickey Mouse immigation exam, wait some more and then become American. Oh yeah, I’m assuming you can actually get a green card. If not, that is another discussion.

The ceremony to become a US Citizen requires you to stand in a room with other newbies and say (as a group) an oath which includes renouncing prior citizenships. However, this is legally meaningless. The only way you can truly lose your Canadian citizenship is to go down to a Canadian embassy, file forms, probably pay money and formally renounce it.

So to sum, the process is easy, but from start to finish it’ll cost you around 4 grand (without a lawyer), and it’ll take 4-7 years depending on your particular situation. I didn’t use a lawyer, the information on the USCIS website is solid and a lawyer is probably unneccessary for most Canadians who follow the guidelines and don’t have complications.

Well, if the OP’s being honest about his (her?) business success, and everything’s on the up and up, then I’d think that would be very much in his favor. All that money will have to be spent, or at least invested, somewhere. If he’s doing that here, isn’t that a net gain for us?