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Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

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  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Can American Dual Citizens Enter the U.S. on a Foreign Passport?


By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq. 


When you become an American dual citizen, you’re likely entitled to at least two passports  - one from each of your countries of citizenship. One of the most frequent dual citizenship questions we see at Malakouti law is whether Americans with dual citizenship can enter the U.S. on another passport.


If you’re a U.S. citizen, the United States restricts use of your other country’s passport when you’re traveling to the United States. That’s because by U.S. federal law, generally adult U.S. citizens must enter the United States with a valid U.S. passport (or an acceptable substitute like a passport card)…even if they are dual or triple citizens. 


8 USC § 1185(b) states: 


“Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport.” 


The federal law 8 USC § 1185(b) that requires U.S. citizens to enter the U.S. with a valid U.S. passport


For example, if you are a dual American-Hungarian citizen. You cannot use your Hungarian passport to try to enter the United States visa-free as a Hungarian citizen who’s eligible for ESTA. You must enter the United States as an American citizen using an American passport. 


So the bottom line is that if you're a citizen of the U.S., you must enter the U.S. with a valid U.S. passport, even if you also have one, two or five additional citizenships.


How Do You Minimize Document Dependence? 


If you must enter the U.S. on an American passport (or substitute), how do you minimize your vulnerability to passport attack vectors (a form of document dependence)? 


You do it by obtaining as many U.S. passports and acceptable substitutes  as possible. Acceptable substitutes for a U.S. passport are listed under 8 CFR § 53.2. 


 Most U.S. citizens should be eligible for the following U.S. travel documents that are acceptable for entrance to the United States. 


  • A standard American passport book valid for ten years 

  • A second American passport book for frequent travelers, valid for four years

  • A U.S. passport card, acceptable for overland crossing from Canada or Mexico

  • A “trusted traveler” program card such as:

U.S. Trusted Traveler Programs


Note: there are additional travel documents that are acceptable substitutes to enter the U.S., but available only to certain persons such as military service members, Native American Indians, merchant seamen, and others with particular circumstances.


The more travel documents you have that allow you entry into the United States as a U.S. citizen, the less likely you are to be vulnerable to a) loss or b) theft of a needed travel document to re-enter the U.S. At Malakouti Law, we recommend U.S. citizen clients obtain as many valid U.S. travel documents as possible, for maximum freedom of movement. 



What about entering other countries with a foreign passport? Many countries have rules that mirror those of the United States, but not all of them do. 


Request a Consultation With Malakouti Law


Want to talk to a professional about pursuing citizenship or residency? Request a consultation with Malakouti Law here.

Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing. 

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