Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm not sure we could call this a policy. As such.

Yesterday I was looking at the US Consulate website, trying to get details on getting Ava and Nate new passports. You might remember last July, when we had to get Ava an emergency passport, due to my failure as a mother and general inability to be awesome. If you missed those posts the first time around, go check it out. That day was an adventure, if by "adventure" we mean swearing under one's breath and nearly wetting oneself.

(Also, I would like to add that because of that day, I have a huge crush on the US Consulate in Sydney--I write my name as "Amy US Consulate in Sydney" all the time and I have their foldout poster on my wall. I try to "accidentally" bump into them at our lockers before school. I also call them when I am lonely just to hear their voice on the answering machine.)

Well. Anyway, Ava needs a new "regular" passport and Nate's is about to expire. (I've learned my lesson.) So I was doing a little research, looking for the proper forms, etc. In the section on citizenship, I clicked on a link about dual nationality. Grace is the only one of us who is both an American and Australian citizen. She was born after Jason and I became Permanent Residents here, which means she's a true blue Aussie. The rest of us, not so much.

Jason and I have talked lately about possibly becoming Australian citizens. There are some advantages to doing so, I won't bore you with those details. But we keep hearing different answers regarding whether the US government would allow dual citizenship. Some folks we talked to told us that yes it was do-able, others said it was difficult, still others told us that it couldn't happen.

No one seemed to have a straight answer. This has been a low-grade frustration for a little while now. So yesterday I thought, I just need to look at what the actual policy is, once and for all. I clicked on "What is the US policy on dual nationality?"
And read this:
"The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy.Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

That's Gracie.

A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or a person naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth.U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, 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."

Okay, so it basically says that you can have dual nationality, but ideally it should only be if you were born into it. That you won't lose your US citizenship if you are granted another citizenship automatically. But you could (maybe! life is mysterious! who knows for sure?) lose it if you apply for foreign citizenship. But wait! Cause it also says that US law doesn't mention dual nationality. So, that's helpful.

But here's my favorite part: "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."

What does that even mean? I feel like the US government is being all passive aggressive with me--check this: "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."

Hey, Citizen--it's a crazy world. Stuff may happen. Stuff may not happen. Either way, we have a policy of acknowledging that stuff but not encouraging that stuff. And that's our policy. And stuff.

It reminds me of when the kids ask to go somewhere or to do something, and I want to say no without saying no. You know? So I try to be all creative. "Well, we could go to the beach--we've done that before. Other people go to the beach. But sometimes it's crowded there--and you remember that time we got a flat tire on the way? Or when you got stung by a jellyfish? See, if we go to the beach that could happen again. So maybe it's better not to go. Maybe we should think about something else."

I'm just not sure that this counts as a "policy". It's more like a parent saying, "Go on and do it but you'll break my heart in a thousand pieces if you do! Just leave your old mother here to sit in the dark--don't worry about meeee!"

You know? Thoughts? Anyone?


  1. That is a crazy attempt at a "policy." My husband has dual, and when Ireland sends him a new passport they include a little slip of paper that basically says: if you also hold a US passport, then when you are entering or leaving the US, you must use your US passport. Otherwise, use whatever. That actually seems like a more laid-out policy to me! ;)

  2. Geez! That is really hard to parse out. It does seem like they want to discourage you from bothering them with it, you with your fancy citizenship needs. Maybe you need to consult some kind of legal professional?

  3. Yes sounds just like a parent who doesn't want their kid to do something but just doesn't want to outrightly say 'no', so you being the child have to decide if you're going to stick your heels in and try to get your own way against your parents wishes and possibly great wisdom I might add (even coming from this naturalized Aussie) or if you are going to obey them? I will be here waiting to find out what you decide:)

  4. Your parents have some thoughts about your citizenship, when you'd like hear them.

  5. I bet they word it as such to shy people away from applying for dual citizenship, but when it boils down to it, I bet you could do it. Or at least go through the process and in the end have the option of forfeiting your US citizenship or not. Surely they can't just say, "hey if you apply, it's gamble." They have to give you more to go on in the end.

  6. It just occured to me that this is like when you are asking your parents for something and they're like, "if you need an answer right now the answer is no." But if you play it cool and let them talk about it they'll come around.

  7. I vaguely remember studying this in law school. Let's say that in order to become a citizen, the laws of Australia require you to renounce all allegiance to the US or swear a loyalty oath or something. The US probably isn't going to want you as a citizen in that situation. You've committed an act which separates you from the US and declares your disloyalty to it. It's like your husband divorcing you 'cause you slept with another guy (sorry about that analogy).

    However, if Australia just asks you to fill out a form and is fine with dual citizenship, the US probably will be too. It's like having two friends at the same time. Or dating two guys at the same time but you aren't going steady with either of them so it's not cheating.

    So the US policy on dual citizenship depends on what the *other* country requires you to do in order to become a citizen of that country. And whether that is compatible with your still remaining a US citizen. And laws change - who knows how some bureaucratic in country XYZ will word the citizenship form the next time it is revised - so therefore, no firm policy.

  8. Was just discussing this with my hubby about getting our daughter (who is adopted from China) a US citizen and I want to get her Australian Citizenship... just in case of an emergency and she has to go to my family... from what I see... Australia doesn't seem to have a problem with dual where as the US seems to? I maybe wrong...