Citizenship of the United States

Citizenship of the United States[2][3] is a legal status that entails Americans with specific rights, duties, protections, and benefits in the United States. It serves as a foundation of fundamental rights derived from and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, such as freedom of expression, due process, the rights to vote (however, not all citizens have the right to vote in all federal elections, for example, those living in Puerto Rico), live and work in the United States, and to receive federal assistance.[4][5] The implementation of citizenship requires attitudes including pledging allegiance to the United States and swearing an oath to support and defend the constitution thereof.[6][7]

United States nationality gives the right to acquire a United States passport.[1] The one shown above is a post-2007 issued passport. A passport is commonly used as an identity document and as proof of citizenship.

There are two primary sources of citizenship: birthright citizenship, in which a person is presumed to be a citizen if he or she was born within the territorial limits of the United States, or—providing certain other requirements are met—born abroad to a United States citizen parent,[8][9] and naturalization, a process in which an eligible legal immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted.[10] These two pathways to citizenship are specified in the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution which reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

National citizenship signifies membership in the country as a whole; state citizenship, in contrast, signifies a relation between a person and a particular state and has application generally limited to domestic matters. State citizenship may affect (1) tax decisions, (2) eligibility for some state-provided benefits such as higher education, and (3) eligibility for state political posts such as United States senator.

In Article One of the Constitution, the power to establish a "uniform rule of naturalization" is granted explicitly to Congress.

United States law permits multiple citizenship. Citizens of other countries who are naturalized as United States citizens may retain their previous citizenship, although they must renounce allegiance to the other country. A United States citizen retains United States citizenship when becoming the citizen of another country, should that country's laws allow it. United States citizenship can be renounced by Americans who also hold another citizenship via a formal procedure at a United States embassy.[11][12]


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