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Voting in U.S. Elections Explained: Can I Vote as a Dual Citizen? Yes, You Can!

One of the most frequent questions voters have is whether they can vote in U.S. elections as a dual citizen. The answer is YES.

This goes for American dual citizens who live within the U.S. and for U.S. dual citizens living in another country. If you are a U.S. dual citizen living in another country, that is fine, too. Voting in U.S. elections from abroad is also possible when you’re a dual national / dual citizen. This article is intended to help U.S. dual nationals better understand their voting rights. If this applies to you, or anyone you know – the news is good!


What is Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship is when you are a citizen of two countries simultaneously. You’re a U.S. dual citizen when you are a citizen of both the United States and another country. Dual citizenship provides rights, benefits, and responsibilities across two countries. However, while receiving various rights, like the right to live, work, vote, and social benefits in both countries, dual citizens are also obligated to be aware of, and obey, the laws of both countries. 

For instance, to vote in U.S. elections, you have to register to vote first. And if you are a U.S. citizen living abroad, you will need to complete an official overseas voter registration and ballot request form. One form does both simultaneously! Learn more about voting from overseas.

If you are a US dual national living within the United States or its territories, you can register to vote as a domestic voter in your state.


How Can I Become a Dual Citizen?

According to U.S. Immigration Support, almost 900,000 people became U.S. citizens in 2020, and a significant percentage of these new citizens did not relinquish their original citizenship, thus becoming dual nationals.


Acquiring U.S. Citizenship

There are three ways of becoming a U.S. citizen. You can become a U.S. citizen if one of the following is true:

  • You were born on U.S. soil
  • At least one of your parents is a U.S. citizen and has lived a certain amount of time in the United States
  • You were naturalized as a U.S. citizen after fulfilling federal requirements 


Jus Soli (Birthright Citizenship) vs Jus Sanguinis (Acquisition Through Ancestry)

There is a doctrine of “jus soli,” meaning “the right of soil.” Regardless of the nationality of your parent(s), you automatically become a U.S. citizen if you were born on U.S. soil. For example, if you were born in Ohio, and your parent(s) are citizens of another country, you still acquire a U.S. citizenship by birth. 

There is another doctrine for acquiring U.S. citizenship - the doctrine of “jus sanguinis,” or “the right of blood.” This means that even if you were born outside of the U.S. you qualify to be a U.S. citizen if one or both of your parent(s) are U.S. citizens. However, there are residency requirements for your parent(s), details below.

Born “In Wedlock” Provision 

In order to qualify for citizenship through the jus sanguinis provision, you must be born “In Wedlock.” This means that your parents were legally married to each other “at the time of the person’s conception or birth or within 300 days of the end of the marriage by death or divorce.” In other words, you qualify to become a U.S. citizen if your genetic or gestational parents were married at your conception or birth or were married for at least 300 days before they divorced (if applicable).


Residency Requirements

When seeking citizenship, there are also residency requirements for your parents. Under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you’re qualified for U.S. citizenship if both of your genetic or gestational parents are U.S. citizens and at least one of your parents resided in the U.S. before you were born. 

If only one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you also qualify to acquire U.S. citizenship if this parent fulfills residency requirements, which vary based on when you were born. 

In both cases, either the American citizen parent or their foreign spouse must have a genetic or gestational connection to the child for the American parent to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.


Born “Out-of-Wedlock” Provision

You are qualified to acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 301(c) if you were born abroad on or after November 14, 1986, and your parents are NOT legally married, but both are U.S. citizens and “at least one parent had a residence in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions prior to the person’s birth.”

For example, suppose you were born abroad, “out-of-wedlock” between December 24, 1952 and June 11, 2017, and your mother, a U.S. citizen, has been physically present in the U.S. for at least one continuous year before your birth. In this case, you qualify to acquire U.S. citizenship through birth.



Lastly, you can acquire U.S. citizenship through naturalization. This rigorous process is used for those without a parental connection to the U.S. and involves meeting permanent residency requirements, exhibiting proficiency in English, and understanding U.S. history and government. According to Statista, in 2022, 969,380 individuals became naturalized citizens of the United States, all of which now have the right to vote in federal elections.

To summarize, you can become a U.S. citizen either through birth (by being born in the U.S. or having at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen) or the naturalization process.


Can U.S. Citizens Who Were Born Abroad Vote?

U.S. citizens do enjoy travel, work, study, and living abroad. Many overseas citizens are also dual nationals. U.S. citizens sometimes move abroad temporarily or even some indefinitely. These citizens who move from the U.S. where they previously established residency in a particular state enjoy full voting rights under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

The voting rights bequeathed to U.S. citizens under UOCAVA are not always passed onto their offspring, if those children are born overseas and have not lived in the U.S. Fortunately thirty-eight (38) states and DC do extend these voting rights to U.S. citizens born abroad, even if they never established residency in the U.S. themselves. 

Learn more about overseas voting if you are a US citizen born abroad 

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