Work Abroad but earn in USD

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dual Citizenship

Today I received two comments from readers about dual citizenship that I wanted to share. I've done a little research about this issue myself, so I will point out a few of the misconceptions that many people have about dual citizenship and then discuss the pros/cons a little.

First Reader's Comment

Not sure if you knew, but you do make some risk by obtaining citizenship and their passport. The main one is that while you are in Argentina, the U.S. can't do anything for you. If you are jailed, the U.S. consular officers do not have the right to see you, check up on you, and make sure that everything is going OK.

You also, I believe, forfeit the right of the U.S. government to sue on your behalf (I believe). For example if they decided to snatch up your business and house and give you nothing for it, the U.S. government can't intervene on your behalf.

It is doubtful like any of this stuff would happen to you, but we are, after all in Argentina -- home of a lot of corruption and many dictatorships. Just throwing it out there to say that there are tradeoffs for a worry free trip to Cuba.

Second Reader's Comment

You shouldn't be advising people on your blog to get citizenship from Argentina. If the US finds out about that, they'll lose their American citizenship. Not very patriotic of you, asking people to betray their country.

My Response

First off, I want to say that there's a lot to address here. I'm going to deal with the facts first and then I'll get into the issue of patriotism. I'm not sure if this reader first reader is correct about U.S. consular officers being denied access to a dual citizen. Maybe someone has a reference about that. This is one of those things that might be true or perhaps not. Who knows? I'd like to see a reference first.

Common Misconceptions About Dual Citizens

  • The U.S. recognizes dual citizens. Although the U.S. did not recognize dual citizens at one time, this hasn't been the case for many years now.
  • Acquiring a foreign citizenship does not mean you will lose your U.S. citizenship. The only way to lose your U.S. citizenship is to actually go before a foreign consular official and renounce it. No one can take it from you without your consent.

Common Misconceptions About U.S. Intervention Abroad

The reader mentioned that the U.S. wouldn't be able to "sue on your behalf" if a foreign government snatched up your business and house. Let me first say that unless you're a big campaign contributor to a number of different politicians, the U.S. isn't going to do anything if you fall victim to the actions of a foreign government. No one is going to make an international incident if one American has a dispute in a foreign country. Forget it. The U.S. government does not get involved in settling the disputes of its citizens abroad.

Additionally, the only services a consular official can provide when you are jailed are to refer you to a lawyer as well as communicate messages to and from your family. They won't intervene in your case, they won't provide you with any kind of legal services, and they certainly won't pay for your defense.

Two Schools of Thought

I suppose there are really two schools of thought on this issue. Some people are looking for their government to protect them. Other people, such as myself, are looking to protect themselves from their government. I'd much rather have a second citizenship and have the ability to protect myself from a government run amock than not have one and hope that my government might be more willing to protect me in some hypothetical situation.

Reasons For A Second Citizenship

Anyone who doesn't recognize the need for a second citizenship either doesn't desire to have more control over their life or just isn't thinking hard enough. The reader pointed out that Argentina is corrupt and has had military dictatorships in the past. That's all true. That's why it would be a good idea for people from Argentina to get a second citizenship of their own. One of my co-workers just got her Italian citizenship and her European Union passport. If she is ever affected by another economic crisis or if the country has another military dictatorship, she'll have the option of leaving for Europe.

The same is true with a second citizenship from a country other than the U.S. Looking back at the last half century or so, I can think of a lot of people who, if they had a second citizenship, might have had reason to make permanent use of it:

  • Any young person drafted into military service
  • Former active duty military who are being "backdoor drafted"
  • The 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes and jailed in prison camps (the so-called "War Relocation Camps") during World War II
  • Muslims who are being disappeared as "material witnesses" without trial
  • Anyone falsely accused of a crime
  • Any business person with an unreconcilable dispute with the government

These are all extreme cases, of course. We all hope that none of these situations would ever happen to us. However, that's why you buy insurance -- for protection against the possibility of something happening. In fact, if there ever comes a time when a person needs to use their second citizenship, it may be for something totally unanticipated.

If terrorists ever start detonating "dirty bombs" in U.S. cities, I can tell you that I wouldn't stick around for that. I wouldn't be able to live in a place and know that I could be hit with killer radiation at any moment. I can deal with the threat of plane or train bombings, but if they ever start with nuclear devices, that's when I check out of the USA for good.

The same goes with the whole Social Security and economic issue. If there's an economic crisis in the U.S., I want to have a place I can go to get away from all of that. I know it sounds funny to say that someone might go to Argentina to escape an economic crisis in the U.S., but I think there is a real possibility of a total economic meltdown in the U.S. sometime within my lifetime. There are serious structural problems with the U.S. economy that no one is addressing.

Other Reasons For A Second Citizenship

There are plenty of other reasons to have a second citizenship that aren't so dramatic:

  • As I hinted at in the previous article, the U.S. places travel restrictions on its citizens. I believe, ideologically, that they don't have the moral right to do this.
  • There are countries require U.S. citizens to have a visa to travel there that don't have the same restrictions to travelers from Argentina.
  • There are banks, investment companies and mutual funds outside the U.S. that, due to the way they interpret U.S. law, won't do business with U.S. citizens, including expatriates not residing in the U.S.

Dual Citizenship & Patriotism

I hope this article cleared some things up about dual citizenship and why expats might want to consider it. As the second reader pointed out, there seems to me to be a stigma of being unpatriotic associated with acquiring a second citizenship, but I don't think that should be the case. All the reasons I listed for getting a second citizenship are to protect oneself from a government run amok. Of course there are the secondary convenience reasons as well. However, the key point here is that you can love your country without loving the government.

I think that's one key difference that separates people from the U.S. and Argentina. Most people I've talked to in Argentina love the country, but they hate the government and their politicians. No one here would call someone unpatriotic because they don't respect the government or the politicians. That's not the case in the U.S., however. Whenever someone starts getting critical of the government, Fox News and all the other talking-heads accuse them of being unpatriotic. I don't agree.

Having a second citizenship is really just a way of protecting yourself and giving yourself a lot more individual freedom. To me, individual freedom is what being American is all about. That's the ideal anyway. Although the constitution of the U.S. guarantees individual freedoms, it is not always adhered to, especially nowadays. Someone with a single citizenship always lets the government have the last word about what individual freedoms he or she really has. People with dual citizenship always have the last word -- they have the freedom to leave when they don't like what their government is up to.

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Blogger rickulivi said...

I was born in BA from an US Mom. I was registered in the US Consulate, and at that time, I had to come live in the USA before I was 18 for 2 years in order not to loose my dual citizenship, which I did. During the Vietnam war I lived in the US and I was a 1A but my draft board was in D.C. and I was never called. I love the USA and I love Argentina. I think dual citizenship is the greatest thing since sliced bread or since the mate! In this globalized world, so many people are bonrn in so many places, that dual citizenships are terrific.

8/17/2005 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger said...

If only half of the North Americans were like you. The world would be such a nicer place...

8/18/2005 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger said...

I totally agree with El Expatriado. I haven't had time to read his site in a while but I totally agree. There are sound reasons for having dual citizenship. He mentioned many and there are many more.

I love the USA and I'm proud to be American but I sure don't miss it and the only time I go back now is for vacations. Every country has it's own problems. I'm proud to be American and I'll proud once I become a resident of Argentina as well.

I strongly agree that there WILL be an economic meltdown in the USA sometime within my lifetime. There are so many countries that are bent on bringing the USA down. Topics like terrorism never bothered me and played no part in moving to Argentina. Still, someday topics like terrorism could become a big part of Americans fleeing to other countries.

I have helped several Americans that are planning on selling their posessions including real estate and plan to retirn in Argentina because of the lifestyle and the cost of living.

Great post El Expatriado.

9/03/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does one go about getting a dual citizenship? Where do you have to go to do the paperwork, etc?

11/07/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

A friend in the US consulate here told me that the US is perfectly happy for citizens living here also to have Argentine citizenship. In fact, he said, the embassy recommends traveling on the Argentine passport rather than the US one for safety reasons. The only time the US wants you to use your US passport is (obviously, I guess) when you're entering and leaving the US. So with your Argentine passport you can visit all the Mercosur countries, Europe, etc., without having to use your US passport.

12/27/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I was born in the US but my mom is from Argentina.

Can I get dual citizenship?

Thank you

3/23/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a US citizen and am moving to argentina in there any way for me to get dual citizenship or is it not allowed?

8/09/2007 04:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Whatever you do - If you are a US citizen living in Argentina - DO file an income tax return every year - DO register with the Embassy in BA - DO vote in US elections via absentee ballot. Of the three DO's listed above filing taxes the first is the most important. If you have an Argentine spouse and try to move back to the US (As I did in 2003) you need to prove your ability to support them in the US. If you are in Argentina with a US company that is not an issue, but that was not my case.

Also be aware that an extended stay as an expat in a foreign country will make it difficult for you to get a security clearance. This is only important if you choose to work for the US government or on a US government contract.

8/18/2007 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Hello, I'm from Argentina, but my husband is american. We live in the States now and I'm in the process to get the U.S. citizenship. However, we're planning on moving to Argentina. Can somebody tell me if I can keep my Argentinian citizenship?

11/25/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy, same here. I'm an argentine married to an american, living in the US. Since I've been here for 5 years now, I can apply for citizenship but once the US grants it to you, you have to give up your argentine citizenship. At least that's what it says in the application. i don't know who controls that, though...We are also planning on moving to ba soon, and it is better for my husband to be married to an argentine, and also to buy properties, etc. So I think I will stay a permanent resident in the US, but an argentine citizen. It works as long as you come and stay in the US at least twice a year.

2/13/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Nancy, yes, if you were born in Argentina, the Argentine government does not recognize your 'giving up' the Argentine citizenship, so you are always Argentine as far as the Argentine government is concerned. The nearest Argentine consulate in the US can inform you about this. At the consulate (or when you go to Argentina) you can renew your Argentine passport, get residence for your spouse, etc. etc. (Note regarding the post from Anon, for Argentines in Argentina with a US green card, you only have to visit the US once a year to maintain US residence, or you can apply to US immigration for a re-entry permit before the year is up, if you cannot get back to the US within one year).

6/21/2008 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger nicholas said...

i was born in father is from b.a. my mother is from do i get dual citizenship

7/10/2008 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Luiz Carlos said...

Ola, meu filho nasceu na Argentina e atualmente moro no Brasil, gostaria de saber como faço pra ele ter dupla cidadania, no caso ter cidadania brasileira.
obrigado, agradeço desde já.

10/08/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I am a dual citizen of both nations: Argentina by birth and U.S. by naturalization (I am married to a U.S. born citizen). Both countries recognize my dual citizenship; and thus, I hold both passports.

To answer the question posted by someone here who had married a U.S. citizen (she was born in Argentina): no, you never lose your Argentine citizenship. NEVER. And you can get and keep renewing your Argentine passport even if you do become a U.S. citizen. And the U.S. (if you do decide to naturalize yourself as such), in "theory" makes you renounce your Argentine citizenship (or that of any other nation where you were born or hold citizenship in), but that is in theory only. You never really renounce anything because even if you did, Argentina would not let you. You see?

If you travel to Argentina with your U.S. passport to enter the country, even though your U.S. passport states where you were born, the authorities in Argentina will allow you to stay in the country for 60 days (not 90 like it would be for someone with a U.S. passport but NOT born in Argentina). If you plan to remain in the country after the allowed 60 days, you will have to renew your Argentine passport (assuming that is the reason why you entered the country with your American passport). In other words, you will have to leave Argentina with your Argentine passport in order to avoid paying penalties for having remained as a foreign citizen past the allowed 60 days.

I would suggest you get the U.S. citizenship if you qualify. Do not stay a resident. What is the benefit of that??? As a U.S. citizenship you will get all the rights of being one, and you can vote as well.

I love having both citizenships because I deeply love both countries. And having both give me additional benefits that I otherwise would not have. But, for Americans wanting to get Argentine citizenship, I suggest they read the U.S. laws that pertain to this issue: I am not 100% sure but I think that whereas the U.S. allows dual citizenship for persons born elsewhere (or through parents), to also acquire U.S. citizenship by naturalization; it does not allow U.S. born persons to become citizens of another nation without losing their American citizenship. This is important and one should check it out before doing anything!

10/31/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Hello. I am finding conflicting information regarding whether or not, under current law, Argentine citizens lose their citizenship upon becoming naturalized US citizens. My hope is that someone knows the current laws as they do change from time to time.

What is clear is that the United States does not require one to renounce any existing citizenship upon becoming a US citizen. However, while some people do currently have both US and Argentine nationalities, i.e. Anonymous from the previous post, I am finding information that states that under current Argentine law an Argentine citizen will involuntarily lose their citizenship when: Person acquires foreign citizenship, but does not fall under "Dual Citizenship."

This information comes from

CITIZENSHIP: Argentine citizenship is based upon Argentine Citizenship Law #346.
- Child born in Argentina, except to accredited ministers of foreign powers.
- Child born in Argentine legations or on Argentine warships.
- Child born in neutral waters on ships flying the Argentine flag.
- BY DESCENT: Child born abroad, both of whose parents are Argentine citizens.
- BY NATURALIZATION: Argentine citizenship can be applied for in two ways:
- Person must reside within the Republic for at least two years.
- Person must have married an Argentine citizen. (This does not automatically confer
citizenship, and spouse must still fulfill the two-year residency requirement.)

Exception: Two groups are recognized as dual citizens. The first are children (18 and under),
born abroad, who acquire citizenship of birth country. Upon reaching maturity at age 18, however,
a declaration of allegiance must be made to one country. Citizens of Spain can hold dual
citizenship per agreement with Argentina.

- VOLUNTARY: Per Argentine consular office, citizenship can only be renounced in the capital,
Buenos Aires. Papers must be signed at the police station and then the individual must appear
before a judge where the renunciation must be accepted by the Argentine government.
- INVOLUNTARY: The following are grounds for involuntary loss of Argentine citizenship:
- Person acquires foreign citizenship, but does not fall under "Dual Citizenship."
- Person accepts employment or honors from a foreign government without permission.
- Person commits fraudulent bankruptcy or has an infamous sentence.

Can anyone definitively answer the question: under currently law will an Argentine citizen lose their Argentine citizenship upon becoming a naturalized United States citizen?

12/09/2008 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Can an individual hold more than 2 passports/citizenships?

e.g. USA, Argentina, and say, Italy

12/26/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Marita said...

Hi I am new to blogging, but this is a great site and I do have a question regarding Argentine citizenship... My husband and I are both Americans, I lived in Argentina for a year and half while in college and my husband has also traveled in Argentina. We would like to give our children the opportunity to have dual citizenship and are entertaining the idea of birthing our children in Argentina. Is it true that if they are born in Argentina they will receive Argentine citizenship and American citizenship due to the fact that we are both Americans? Will there be any potential for them to lose this dual citizenship in the future?
Thank you for your help.

1/15/2009 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in Argentina (American Parents, can I get a dual citizenship (I am also under 18). If I can then I have a couple of questions:

1. Is there any mandatory military service?
2. Is there any kind of tax I would have to pay?
3. Where do I get it?

2/24/2009 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was reading the comments and I think we have to be open minded about this topic, there is not betrayal having a dual citizenship in fact as we read it is a great benefit for families. I am Italo-Argentinian and I came to the US three years ago and I always say to my wife if something really bad happens here we have two more options: Argentina or Italy.

6/28/2009 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Diego said...

"We, the representatives of the people of the Argentine Nation, gathered in General Constituent Assembly by the will and election of the Provinces which compose it, in fulfillment of pre-existing pacts, in order to form a national union, guarantee justice, secure domestic peace, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves, to our posterity, and to all men of the world who wish to dwell on argentine soil: invoking the protection of God, source of all reason and justice: do ordain, decree, and establish this Constitution for the Argentine Nation."
Preámbulo de la Constitución Argentina, 1853

10/21/2009 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would check OFAC regulations before you go heading off to countries against which the USA maintains embargoes. Generally, a US person is not permitted to avoid these regulations through avoidance tactics. Using the passport of another country would seem to fall within this restriction. I'm sure there is a federal court decision out there confirming this.

So, saying such travel is "worry free" is very likely inaccurate, and it's irresponsible for you to be giving such advice without citing legal authority to support your conclusion. Remember, you have almost no Fourth Amendment rights at the border, even as a US citizen. If border agents want to rummage through your bags and flip through your documents (such as your foreign passport with a cuban entry stamp), they have every right to do so.

2/03/2010 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Sean: This a late reply, but a reply at least.

Your "contradictory/conflicting" information is because that information you found (where even native argentineans could lose their citizenship) is from a law made during a military dictatorship, Law 21.795

This law was REVOKED in 1984 through law 23.059 by a legitimate government which reestablished the previous citizenship laws 346, 16.801 and 20.835

Hope this information helps someone

3/28/2010 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't give the "patriotic" angle a further thought, El Ex. I've never heard anything so inane. America was the greatest thing going not long ago, but it's turned into a monster now, and anybody who isn't thoroughly ashamed of it I'm sorry for them.

You obviously have your own head screwed on straight -- it's just too bad for those who don't. Hope they smarten up before the economic apocalypse.

Thanks for the site -- looks really useful.

8/24/2010 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife was born in Argentina to British parents and lived there for 3 years - she moved back to London and 26 years later emigrated to Australia and became an Australian Citizen 8 years after that. She is now married to an Aussie (me) and wants to know if she is able to travel to Argentina on her Australian passport (with me)or does she need to re-new her Argentinian one that she has never renewed.?
Thanks......????? Mal

8/28/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Brit in BA said...

Hi all - great thread

I wonder if anyone can shed some light on my situation. I arrived in Argentina 2 years ago but I have never renewed my visa. I always thought I might be about to leave so I figured I'd just pay my fine on the way out but things have changed now. I'd really like to pay the overstay fine and then apply for residency.

I just wonder if anyone else has a similar story or knowledge on what reaction I might get - if I'll be asked to leave the country, or if having been here 2 years (albeit illegally) will count in my favour.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this one! thanks

1/21/2011 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous guru said...

Great post, I wanted to ask somewhere knowledgable...

I was born in Argentina to American parents. I'm now 24 years old. My parents and I left Argentina to America when I was 2, and I haven't returned since. I think I may have had an Argentine passport when I was 2, but it hasn't been renewed since.

Am I an Argentine citizen? This would be the absolute best news in the world for me right now, because I'm having a lot of difficulty at the moment with visas in a certain Mercosur country, and an Argentine passport would be like the sudden sprining up of the hallelujah chorus and light shining down from the sky.

2/16/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Graz said...

Hey I have a curiosity question:

After recently visiting Buenos Aires, and falling in love with both the city and country, I am wondering what the process is (or where I can find information) on becoming a dual citizen. I have a PhD and that usually means I can skip the residency requirement and can come in as a "needed professional." Does anyone know if this is true? Where I can find that information? Any help would be appreciated!

4/01/2011 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

We are US citizens and have never lived in Argentina, but are very interested in obtaining dual citizenship because we believe we need to protect ourselves for the future. We have been told that dual citizenship in Argentina is open to US citizens through the end of this year. Can you please advise us as to how to apply etc. Thank you!

7/21/2011 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger sab15 said...


My father is/was Argentine and I've been reading that I can get citizenship there. My first question involves my father's status and how that affects me. He immigrated to the US in the 50's when he was 19. I think he got his US citizenship in the early 60's. He never returned to Argentina. The first question is, is he still considered an Argentine citizen? And, secondly, if he is not, can I still get it on the basis that he was born there?

Thanks a lot.


8/24/2011 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Diego said...

@sab15 and some others

first: yes your father can still be considered argentine citizen unless he resigned his citizenship, he only need to update his papers at the argentinian embassy
second: yes you can, but only dual citizenship is allowed in argentina.
But dont get my word yet and contact the argentinian embassy by mail, they will give you all the details.

..and to answer future questions, here you have the Preamble of The Argentina Constitution:

"We, the representatives of the people of the Argentine Nation, assembled in General Constituent Congress by the will and election of the provinces which compose it, in fulfillment of pre-existing pacts, with the object of constituting the national union, ensuring justice, preserving domestic peace, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves, to our posterity, and to all men in the world who wish to dwell on Argentine soil: invoking the protection of God, source of all reason and justice, do ordain, decree and establish this Constitution for the Argentine Nation."

8/25/2011 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To second reader comment: Americans need to learn to keep their mouth SHUT and mind their own business. That is one of the reasons I plan on leaving the U.S. (or U Ass as I call it) I would trust the Argentine government FAR sooner than I would the U.S. government. I believe NOTHING they say. This country is run by a bunch of paranoid schizo pathological liars. I plan on not only moving to Argentina and obtaining citizenship there but I am renouncing my U Ass citizenship-Carl Sperr

12/18/2011 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Izhak said...

You were born in Argentina, so you are an Argentinian citizen, no matter what. Argentina doesn't allow its citizens to give up citizenship because it's against the Constitution. If you get Argentinian citizenship, you'll be Argentinian all your life.

Lynn: never heard of that, but it is possible for you to get Argentinian citizenship if you live here long enough or have Argentinian ancestors.

3/01/2012 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Milva said...

My husband and I are US citizens but we were both born in Argentina and are planning on leaving the US and moving to Argentina to live there as well as our (2) children who were born in Argentina. These are my questions: Is is better to have my children enter the US with their US passports or should I take the time to make them Argentine?. (Since we are both Argentine's they can automatically apply to become Argentines)... Do I need to get a return ticket for all of us? I plan on renewing my Argentine passport when we are there... is it better to enter with the US or the Argentine passport so I am not restricted to the 60 days? Please HELP US!!!! Thanks

9/24/2013 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in Argentine but a US citizen. I will be leaving the US to live in Argentina next year. Is it better to enter with the US passport and then renew my Argentine passport when I am there or should I just enter with the Argentine passport? If I travel with the US passport can I show them the Argentine passport and they will not put the restriction of 60 days? My child was born in the US and he can apply for citizenship of Argentina.. Should I get him the Argentine passport as well or is he ok with entering with the US passport and I will go thru the paperwork to have him naturalized there? Can I enter Argentina with a one way ticket since I will be living there? Please help us.... Thanks

9/24/2013 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madiba Girl (MG)
Hi, I am a South African (SA) (female) and my partner is Argentinian. We both live in South Africa. Any out there with advice to us for (a) getting married in Buenos Aires Province and (b) me obtaining permanent residency. We plan to live in both countries in the future. He has permanent residency in SA. Thank you! Great blog site ! MG.

10/27/2013 04:21:00 AM  

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