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New U.S. citizens must swear the following oath of loyalty to the United States (quote from https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states-america):

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. (Emphasis added.)

Why does the oath of loyalty to the United States that new U.S. citizens must swear mention seem to include renouncing all foreign citizenships, since in practice the United States allows their citizens to hold several citizenships?

10

The text of the oath was fixed before US law changed with respect to multiple citizenship, and it has not been changed since.

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    Thanks, I guess that explains! Would be too clear if everything was consistent :-/ – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 3 at 16:08
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    Without those words in the citizenship oath I might have become a US citizen, but I will not take an oath I have no intention of carrying out. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 3 at 17:24
  • This answer is interesting, but it would be nice if it linked or cited some sources, IMO. (Also, as with many things having to do with government, this is insane.) – reirab Jun 4 at 2:24
  • "before US law changed with respect to multiple citizenship" -- how and when was the law changed? My impression is that the US law has always been ambivalent and it simply just quietly tolerates multiple citizenship. – Kenny LJ Jun 4 at 3:21
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    @KennyLJ It was clarified by the Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 4 at 6:52
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It doesn't. Nowhere in the oath does it talk about renouncing "citizenship" or "nationality" at all. It talks about renouncing "allegiance and fidelity".

Allegiance and fidelity are different from citizenship. Whether you have a country's citizenship or nationality is decided solely by that country's law, and for many countries, renouncing citizenship requires an overt application and approval -- it doesn't just happen because you utter a sentence -- and for some countries it is even impossible to renounce citizenship. On the other hand, allegiance and fidelity are values you hold in your mind which you can unilaterally change at any time.

This is supported by the fact that the word "renounce" is in the present tense, so it must be something which can be done instantly, at the moment of taking the oath (especially since it says "hereby"), like allegiance and fidelity. Renunciation of citizenship generally can't be done in that moment. A separate application to renounce citizenship with your country of citizenship would have to be done before or after the oath. If by taking the oath, you are declaring that you had already taken some action to renounce citizenship, then it would have to be in the past tense; if by taking the oath, you are promising that you will take some future action to renounce citizenship, then it would have to be in the future tense, but it is neither of those. So in my opinion, the oath does not involve you taking any separate action regarding your other citizenships at all, and you cannot be viewed as breaking the oath if you never took any action regarding your other citizenships, either before or after the oath.

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My understanding has always been that the US does not recognize dual citizenship. If you are a US Citizen, then the US Government will treat you as a US Citizen, with all the rights, protections, and privileges that is afforded by that status.

For example: If another country requested to have you extradited, you would still be viewed SOLELY as a US Citizen. Even if you also happened to be a citizen of the other country.

I have never heard that anything has changed or that the US Government now recognizes dual citizenship.

(Source: probably my 7th grade US Govt Teacher, like 40+ years ago...)

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    That's what dual citizenship means. Countries which do not allow dual citizenship revoke the citizenship of people who become citizens of other countries, and force people to renounce previous citizenships when being naturalized. – Sneftel Jun 4 at 9:14
  • An example of this is Germany: When you receive German citizenship, you must legally renounce any other citizenship (except EU or Swiss citizenship). This isn't just an oath; you must bring them proof of the renunciation. Receiving US citizenship doesn't require you to legally renounce other citizenships. – Kyralessa Jun 5 at 7:38
  • The US does recognize dual citizenship, in the sense that it acknowledges that a US citizen may also be a citizen of another country. (See, for example travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/…) It does generally refuse to treat its citizens differently based on that fact, however. In the past, however, the US was far less tolerant of dual citizenship, and it was fairly active in depriving dual citizens of their US nationality. That changed in 1967. – phoog Jun 6 at 5:50

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