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Legal Resources

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Legal Resources

U.S. Citizenship Laws and Policy

The information below provides general guidance about how a person may acquire or lose U.S. citizenship. Please scroll down for additional information.

Acquisition of Citizenship

U.S. citizenship may be acquired either at birth or through naturalization subsequent to birth.  Persons born outside of the U.S. may acquire U.S. citizenship under certain circumstances.

Loss of Citizenship and Nationality

A U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization INA 301 (8 U.S.C. 1401), INA 310 (8 U.S.C. 1421) or a U.S. noncitizen national INA 308 (8 U.S.C. 1408), INA 101(29) (8 U.S.C. 1101(29)) will lose U.S. nationality (“expatriate”) her or himself by committing a statutory act of expatriation as defined in INA 349 (8 U.S.C. 1481), or predecessor statute, but only if the act is performed (1) voluntarily and (2) with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship.  The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken (Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967) and Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252 (1980)):  a person cannot lose U.S. nationality unless he or she voluntarily relinquishes that status. 

Other Citizenship and Nationality Links