Losing Citizenship in USA and the Philippines

by Manuel B. Quintal, Esq.

Most countries in the world permit dual or multiple citizenships with varying restrictions. Dual or multiple citizenships happens because matters of citizenship are determined by internal or national laws. There is no international convention determining citizenships.

The Philippines and the United States are two of the countries recognizing dual citizenship. As I stated in a prior article, each of these countries consider the individual as its citizen 100 per cent. It is only in case of war and other events where the interests of both countries collide when the dual citizen may have to select or decide where his true allegiance lay. The status of dual citizenship remains, but allegiance may waver in favor of one against the other.

The Philippines expressly permits dual citizenship under the “Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003” (Republic Act 9225), more popularly referred to as the Dual Citizenship Law. While there is no legislative act permitting dual citizenship in the United States that is similar to that in the Philippines, the status of dual citizenship is acceptable as a natural consequence of differences in national laws. Thus, according to the Department of State website (Travel.State.Gov), a U.S. citizen may be naturalized in a foreign country and risk no danger of losing his U.S. citizenship. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the “mere fact that he asserts rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other.”

“… a U.S. citizen may be naturalized in a foreign country and risk no danger of losing his U.S. citizenship.”

Briefly stated, a U.S. citizen may lose his citizenship on any of the following grounds: (1) naturalization in a foreign state, (2) taking an oath or making affirmation of allegiance to a foreign state, (3) entering, or serving, in the armed forces of a foreign state that is at war against the U.S., (4) employment under the government of a foreign state, (5) formal renunciation of citizenship, and (6) committing any act of treason against the U.S. (Section 349, Immigration and Nationality Act.)

“Naturalization alone, without clear intention to give up U.S. citizenship, does not result to loss of such citizenship.”

Under Philippine law (Commonwealth Act No. 63, as amended), citizenship may be lost (1) by naturalization in a foreign country, (2) by express renunciation of citizenship, (3) by subscribing an oath of allegiance to support the constitution and laws of a foreign country, (4) by rendering service to, or accepting commission in the armed forces of a foreign country (5) by cancellation of his certificate of naturalization by the court, and (6) by having been declared by competent authority, a deserter in the PHL armed forces in time of war.

Naturalization alone, without clear intention to give up U.S. citizenship, does not result to loss of such citizenship. Not all who serve in the armed forces of a foreign state or employed under a foreign state lose their citizenship. Exceptions are permitted either by law or bilateral treaty. Renunciation must be formal, clear, and voluntary. Employment under a foreign government should be in a policy-making position.

“So the only ways he may lose either citizenship is by a formal, clear and voluntary act of renunciation and by decision of the court, after due hearing, based on any of the acts or events enumerated in the law.”

Unlike a naturalized citizen, a natural-born citizen of both the U.S. and the Philippines is not required to take a pledge of allegiance to become a citizen or perfect his citizenship. So the only ways he may lose either citizenship is by a formal, clear and voluntary act of renunciation and by decision of the court, after due hearing, based on any of the acts or events enumerated in the law. Anyone who claims that an individual has lost his citizenship has the burden to show proof of such loss.

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