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I have some doubts on the definitions of US national and US citizenship.

Let's suppose: A man was born in Los Angeles, CA. So he was a US national and US citizen. When he was 18 years old, he gave up his US citizenship, and obtained Chinese citizenship. Then he is no longer a US citizen, but is he still a US national? Is he required a US visa if he wants to travel in US?

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Note that in order to lose U.S. citizenship, he would need to actually apply to the U.S. consulate to renounce citizenship, get interviewed, and get approved. Otherwise, he is still a U.S. citizen. – user102008 Jun 18 '14 at 20:57
@user102008 That's not entirely true. He could do any of several expatriating acts with the intention of losing his citizenship. The US government could recognize the loss of citizenship through a consular application or a court decision. – phoog Sep 11 '14 at 12:44
@phoog: But it's very difficult to prove honest intention of losing citizenship, unless it's done in the presence of a U.S. government official, away from other sources of influence. – user102008 Sep 11 '14 at 18:37
@user102008 But if the party who performed the expatriating act is the party trying to prove intention, I wouldn't call that difficult. If the party swore as part of a consular application or court action that the act was undertaken with the intention of losing citizenship, that would presumably be sufficient. The citizenship would have been terminated as of the expatriating act, not requiring the presence of the gov't official for the termination of the citizenship. – phoog Sep 11 '14 at 19:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

From immihelp.com:

U.S. National

All U.S. citizens are U.S. nationals, but there are some who are U.S. nationals but are not U.S. citizens.


U.S. national is a person born in or having ties with "an outlying possession of the United States" which is as of 2005, only American Samoa and Swains Island. Additionally, it also includes those individuals born abroad to two U.S. national parents, or those born abroad to one alien parent and one U.S. national parent. Additionally, there is a residency requirement for the parents of the child prior to birth in order to transmit U.S. nationality.

Past U.S. nationals

In the past, those who were born in Guam (1898-1950), Puerto Rico (1898-1917), the U.S. Virgin Islands (1917-1927) or the Philippines (1898-1946) where U.S. nationals. However, now those who are born in Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands are full U.S. citizens, and the Philippines is an independent country and the citizenship was never accorded to them.

As far as I understand, he is no longer a US national and therefore he will need a visa to travel to USA.

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Your 2nd part of the definition is not correct. – NickNo Jun 18 '14 at 13:18
@NickNo which part do you mean? – Dirty-flow Jun 18 '14 at 13:59
These definitions appear to be in line with the material I've reviewed with the applicable US laws. (Not a summary, but the actual laws.) – corsiKa Jun 18 '14 at 20:10
@Dirty-flow I made a mistake, you are fine since you use US national and not US citizen describing the parents of children born outside USA. – NickNo Jun 20 '14 at 16:00

A "US National" is a legal term and is so defined in 8 U.S.C. §1408

8 U.S.C. §1408 Definition of U.S. National

...the following shall be nationals, but not citizens, of the United States at birth:

(1) A person born in an outlying possession of the United States on or after the date of formal acquisition of such possession;

(2) A person born outside the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are nationals, but not citizens, of the United States, and have had a residence in the United States, or one of its outlying possessions prior to the birth of such person;

(3) A person of unknown parentage found in an outlying possession of the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in such outlying possession; and

(4) A person born outside the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a national, but not a citizen, of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than seven years in any continuous period of ten years—

(A) during which the national parent was not outside the United States or its outlying possessions for a continuous period of more than one year, and

(B) at least five years of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.



IRS Definition of US National

An individual who owes his sole allegiance to the United States, including all U.S. citizens, and including some individuals who are not U.S. citizens. For tax purposes the term "U.S. national" refers to individuals who were born in American Samoa or were born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who have chosen to be treated as U.S. nationals and not as U.S. citizens.

So US Nationals are people born in American Samoa or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who decided that they don't want to be citizens of the united states. They refuse, and so based on that voluntary choice they become US Nationals. They can still get a US Passport, they can go to US and live there and get a job as a US Citizen. However they can not vote in National Elections. So US Nationals can't vote in National elections but besides that have the same abilities as US Citizens.



Your Question

Giving up the citizenship of US means that the person is now considered a Chinese National, and would be treated by passport control the same as any other citizen of PRC coming for a visit, or on business and the will require a visa from a US Consulate in China to even board an airplane to fly to the US from China.

Since the definition of US National involves being born on 2 islands outside US mainland, while your friend was born in LA, they were considered a native born US citizen until the moment they gave up their citizenship and passport. From that moment on they became a citizen of China.

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Your statements are incorrect, as is the top result in Google. It yields the definition as it relates to tax purposes, not as it relates for visa purposes. See my answer for the definitive sections in the United States Code that details the definition of a US national. – corsiKa Jun 18 '14 at 18:21
I misread him writing National, thought he meant a US Citizen and foreign national having a kid outside the US would make the kid be labeled a "US National'. My bad. – NickNo Jun 19 '14 at 18:05
That's exactly what he said, and he's correct. Me (US Citizen) and my wife (foreign national) have two kids. First was born in US, that kid is a US citizen. Second kid was born outside the US, that kid is a US national who is also eligible for citizenship if she declares it. Myself (US citizen) my oldest kid (US citizen) and my youngest kid (not US citizen) are all US nationals. – corsiKa Jun 19 '14 at 19:21
@corsiKa I am a US Citizen and have 3 kids outside US with a non-citizen and non-national. My kids (before I got them naturalized) were not US Nationals because I am a citizen, and to be considered a US National , one or both of the parents must be a US National BUT NOT a US Citizen. I added some things to my post with an actual link to the law on gpo.gov. Read the language, it specifically says that to be called a US National , the kid must have one or both parents classified as US Nationals who at the same time are not US citizens. – NickNo Jun 20 '14 at 4:16
@user102008 If a US Citizen parent meets the criteria, the child is automatically a US citizen at birth. All that needs to be done is to verify the US Citizen parent's eligibility via for DS-2029 ( Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad ). This automatic transmission of citizenship from parent to child expires when the child becomes a legal adult at age 18. At that point the only way to get citizenship is throuogh Naturalization and requires a visa + 5 year residency in USA as is for any immigrant. – NickNo Jun 24 '14 at 2:45

Flow in and out of the US is controlled by the Department of Homeland Security. They define a national to be:

National - A person owing permanent allegiance to a state.

It does not say that that permanent allegiance must be singular. That is, it doesn't restrict you to having allegiance to only one state.

However, I think it's pretty clear that renouncing your citizenship carries with it the weight of renouncing your allegiance.

Note that the definition of a US national for tax purposes and for visa purposes may be different.

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"My youngest daughter (only 2 years old) does not yet have her US citizenship, but she is considered a US national" This is not possible. Your youngest daughter is either automatically (and involuntarily) a U.S. citizen at birth, or not a U.S. national. There is no way she can be a non-citizen U.S. national, because none of her parents are non-citizen U.S. nationals (you said in a comment that you're a U.S. citizen). – user102008 Jun 21 '14 at 1:55
"See clause 4 in the link for why she is considered a national." That clause doesn't apply, because it requires one parent to be "a national, but not a citizen, of the United States". She doesn't have such a parent. – user102008 Jun 21 '14 at 1:56
@user102008 Sorry, we've been over this with an immigration officer. My youngest is eligible for citizenship, but isn't considered a citizen until she actually declares it. So she's involuntarily eligible, and is involuntarily a national, but you don't register to be a national, you just are one. Citizenship, on the other hand, has to be declared for those born outside the US. As for your second comment, you're correct - I need to update that to reflect 1401, not 1408. – corsiKa Jun 22 '14 at 16:34
It doesn't matter who you've "been over this" with. The law is very clear. Your daughter is automatically and involuntarily a U.S. citizen at birth. There is no choice, and no need to do anything for this to happen. She may have no proof of citizenship until she applies for one -- but she is still a U.S. citizen according to U.S. law. – user102008 Jun 22 '14 at 18:51
There is no subjective semantics that can be disagreed on. Look anywhere about information on INA 301 or acquisition of citizenship to children born abroad. e.g. travel.state.gov/content/travel/english/legal-considerations/… and uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/… Citizenship is automatic and involuntary at birth. People who do not get citizenship at birth do not have nationality either. – user102008 Jun 23 '14 at 18:15

The answer is NO, he is not a U.S. national.

When you say "give up his U.S. citizenship", what is actually happening is he is giving up his U.S. nationality. He is giving up U.S. nationality according to 8 USC 1481(a)(5):

(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State;

Giving up U.S. nationality also causes him to not have U.S. citizenship, because U.S. citizens must be U.S. nationals.

There is no provision in the current law for loss of U.S. citizenship apart from the loss of U.S. nationality.

(Though as an interesting historical note, there was a situation when someone could give up U.S. citizenship but keep U.S. nationality: Existing residents of the Northern Mariana Islands gained U.S. citizenship in 1986 under section 301 of the CNMI Covenant with the U.S. Under section 302, people who gained citizenship under section 301 could choose to become non-citizen U.S. nationals within 6 months of the 1986 date, or 6 months of turning 18, whichever was later. The choosing period has long passed for any eligible person, and it does not apply to the OP's example which is someone who was a citizen at birth.)

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