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Can You Lose Your Citizenship if You Live Abroad After Becoming Naturalized?


With the increasing globalization and mobility of individuals, it is not uncommon for naturalized citizens to live abroad for extended periods. However, many individuals are unaware of the potential risks involved in residing outside their home country for an extended period of time. In this blog post, we will explore the question of whether you can lose your citizenship if you live abroad after becoming naturalized, and provide valuable insights and tips to help you navigate this complex issue.

Understanding Citizenship Revocation

The revocation of US citizenship is a rare occurrence but is legally plausible under specific scenarios. One such situation is if a naturalized citizen voluntarily gives up their allegiance to the United States. The process of renouncing citizenship involves taking an oath of renunciation before a US diplomatic or consular officer while physically present in a foreign country. This action explicitly declares the individual's intention to relinquish their US citizenship voluntarily.

Living Abroad and its Impact

While living abroad itself does not automatically trigger the loss of citizenship, it can have implications on an individual's status. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires naturalized citizens to demonstrate their intent to maintain a connection to the country. Extended periods of living overseas might raise questions about whether the individual genuinely intends to remain a US citizen.

The general rule is that a naturalized citizen who voluntarily resides outside the US for an uninterrupted period of more than one year may be presumed to have abandoned their US citizenship. However, this presumption is rebuttable if the individual can provide evidence to the contrary. Factors like maintaining substantial ties to the US, filing US tax returns, owning property, or keeping immediate family members in the country can help demonstrate an intent to retain citizenship.

Dual Citizenship and its Impact

One common misconception is that holding dual citizenship automatically protects individuals from losing their US citizenship. While the United States generally allows dual citizenship, it does not provide absolute immunity from revocation. If a naturalized citizen voluntarily and formally renounces their US citizenship through the process mentioned earlier, their dual citizenship will be revoked, and they will retain only the nationality of their other country.

Renunciation vs. Relinquishment

It's essential to differentiate between renunciation and relinquishment. Renunciation is a voluntary, intentional act of giving up US citizenship, while relinquishment occurs through specific actions, such as serving in a foreign military with the intention of giving up US nationality. Relinquishment can happen without the individual's explicit intention to abandon their citizenship.

Preventing Citizenship Loss

Naturalized citizens who plan to live abroad for an extended period should take proactive steps to avoid unintentionally losing their US citizenship. Here are some practical measures to safeguard their status:

  1. Maintain Strong Ties to the US: Regular visits, financial ties, and continued involvement in US affairs can demonstrate a commitment to maintaining US citizenship.

  2. File US Tax Returns: By filing annual tax returns, even if not required to pay taxes, individuals can show their compliance with US laws and obligations.

  3. Obtain a US Passport: Keeping an active US passport is a clear indication of retaining citizenship.

  4. Register with the US Embassy: Registering with the nearest US embassy or consulate while living abroad ensures that the government has updated contact information.

  5. Seek Legal Advice: If uncertain about their citizenship status, individuals should consult with immigration attorneys experienced in citizenship matters.

If you have more questions, contact the Law Office Of Patricia M. Machado, P.C. today. We can provide you with the necessary expertise to navigate this complex area of immigration law.

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