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Just looking for a little advice about a passport application and travelling. I currently live in the UK, and I am a British citizen. Since my father is an American citizen, I have claim to US citizenship, and recently applied for my first US passport. This would make me a dual national if my application is accepted and processed; however, the status of my application has not yet been confirmed, so I am still only a British citizen. I'm yet to know if I've even been accepted for citizenship.

I was planning on travelling to Los Angeles for a vacation next month, and as I'm yet to hear back from the US embassy, I was planning to travel on my UK passport like I normally do, although I have been told there might be problems with immigration when I try to enter the US, as I have a pending US passport application that could mean I gain US citizenship in the near future. Does anyone have any experience with this or know if I will be fine travelling on my UK passport? I assumed it would be okay since I'm not yet a dual national, but I've read different things. I'm not sure if it would show up on the system that I've applied for a US passport when they scan my British passport.

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3 Answers 3

This would make me a dual national if my application is accepted and processed; however, the status of my application has not yet been confirmed, so I am still only a British citizen. I'm yet to know if I've even been accepted for citizenship.

Applying for a passport cannot "make you a dual national" -- rather, having a country's nationality is a prerequisite for applying for that country's passport. If you are applying for a U.S. passport, then that means (you believe) you are already a U.S. national. A passport is a proof of nationality, but not having a passport doesn't mean you are not that country's national. Whether you are a country's national is determined solely by that country's laws.

Children born abroad to U.S. citizens, where the U.S. citizen parent(s) satisfy the conditions for transmitting U.S. citizenship, are automatically and involuntarily U.S. citizens at birth. It is not "claimed". From what you are saying, you are and have always been a U.S. citizen since birth.

According to U.S. law, a U.S. citizen must enter and leave the U.S. with a valid U.S. passport. So since you are a U.S. citizen, technically speaking, it is incorrect for you to enter the U.S. without a U.S. passport; this is regardless of whether you have applied for a U.S. passport or not. However, if you hadn't applied for a U.S. passport, there is a good chance that the officers at the border won't figure out that you're a U.S. citizen, because you were born in foreign country and you have a passport from a visa waiver country (so you didn't have to apply for a visa and be scrutinized there).

I am not sure if the CBP officers' systems are connected to passport applications or not. But if they found out about that, then they will know that you already are (or claim to already be) a U.S. citizen, and there will be problems.


Update: According to 7 FAM 085 (this PDF, page 3):

b. Although a consular officer may not issue a visa to an individual who has been determined to be a U.S. citizen, if a nonimmigrant visa applicant has a possible claim to U.S. citizenship but is unable or unwilling to obtain documents to establish that status, as determined by the post’s citizenship and passport officer, the visa officer may presume that the applicant is an “alien” pursuing a nonimmigrant visa application. If the presumed alien is found eligible to receive the visa for which application was made, the visa may be issued prior to the final determination of citizenship status.

So it seems to be okay to use a nonimmigrant visa (like tourist visa) or VWP to enter the U.S. while your U.S. citizenship determination is pending.

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@102008 I am not yet a citizen. Not every child born to a US parent is instantly a US citizen, it depends on the date they were born and how many years the US parent was living in the US after the birth of the child (me). Without this evidence a person cannot apply for citizenship, nor are they able to, meaning that until all of this evidence is collected and submitted, a person does not have claim to US citizenship. As it says in the link below, I may have claim to citizenship, but there is a chance I won't. It all depends if I have collected enough evidence for my case. –  Amy mizrahii Jun 10 at 9:08
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@Amymizrahii If you can't prove your citizenship, you can't enjoy it in practice but it's not the same as applying for citizenship (e.g. through naturalization). I don't know specifically about US law but presumably if your application is successful, you won't become a citizen, you will be considered to have been one from the day of your birth. –  Relaxed Jun 10 at 14:29
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@Amymizrahii It's a tricky thing, but technically you are applying to find out if you are a US citizen. i.e. you are not saying "Please make me a citizen" you are saying "Please find out if I really am a citizen". You can't claim any of the rights of citizenship until they have determined if you are one or not. But if your claim is accepted, you will have been a citizen since birth. You could even run for President. –  DJClayworth Jun 10 at 17:42
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@Amymizrahii: Even if you don't ever apply for a U.S. passport or a Certificate of Citizenship, that doesn't make you not a U.S. citizen. You are a U.S. citizen in the eyes of U.S. law. You just may not have convenient proof of it, and the U.S. government may not know about it, but that doesn't mean you are not a U.S. citizen. If you did not provide enough evidence (it's called "secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship"), that also doesn't mean you are not a U.S. citizen; it just means they do not have enough to determine whether you are or not. –  user102008 Jun 10 at 18:33
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Thanks everyone, I understand a lot more now. I should probably wait until I hear back about my application, although there's no estimation as to how long that would take. If I do decide to try travel on my uk passport the US embassy have said it will be down to the officer in charge on the day to decide if I can enter the US, if I do encounter a problem or get questioned. Hard decision really. This summer is the only chance I'll get to see friends and family in the states for a while, but a bit risky. –  Amy mizrahii Jun 10 at 22:19

I think I may know the answer to my question. I called the US citizen and immigration office today (London office) and spoke to a very helpful man. He explained that as long as my status of citizenship has not yet been confirmed, there will be no problem travelling on my UK passport, as I will not be regarded as a US citizen yet. He said the only problem would be, is if a few days before I fly my citizenship does get confirmed, then I would need a US passport to travel to the states.

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I have heard that US immigration will turn you away as a visitor if they believe you want to live in the US some day, even if you are going through proper channels and still retain ties to your current home. Let me see if I can find a reference. This forum is for folks who are waiting for "fiancé visas" and find visiting a difficult thing. It says:

The answer is yes, visits are allowed. But whether you will actually be admitted lies entirely in the hands of the officer questioning you upon entry. And face it, hearing you've got a sweetheart you're intending to/have married waiting for you in the US is going to set off a "he/she is just going to stay here forever" bell to that officer. It's your job to convince that officer that you have a life back in your home country that you fully intend, and will, go back to.

I suspect the situation will be very similar for you. Have paperwork with you about the job you hold in the UK and the car you own there and whatever else might make it clear you will be going back after this visit. There are no guarantees, any and all visitors can be turned away by an office having a grumpy day.

You might also have the opposite problem: once you're a citizen, you're only allowed to enter using your US passport. But you might not have the passport yet. That one I would take up with whatever consulate or embassy is processing your application.

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Not quite the same situation. If citizenship is confirmed there is no issue at how long she can spend in the US or even if she need to leave like visitors are "supposed to" –  Karlson Jun 9 at 20:08
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agreed. But one of the things they assess when deciding to let you in as a visitor is whether you're a "stay risk" or not. And anyone with pending paperwork that will allow them to move to the US is a stay risk when they visit. So you bring paperwork to reassure them that you really will leave when you say you will. –  Kate Gregory Jun 9 at 20:10
    
Thanks everyone for the answers, very helpful. I was wondering how they would know I have a pending application anyway, as there would be no way of telling really if I just hand them my British passport and show return tickets? –  Amy mizrahii Jun 9 at 20:15
    
@Amymizrahii: Did the US citizenship application ask about details for other citizenships you hold? They can also match you by name and birthdate (and other details). US immigration will scan your UK passport and try to match against whatever databases they have. –  Greg Hewgill Jun 9 at 20:19
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The OP is a U.S. citizen, and has been since birth. He/she is technically not allowed to enter the U.S. on another passport, regardless of circumstances. They now know he/she is a U.S. citizen because he/she has applied for a U.S. passport. –  user102008 Jun 10 at 3:56

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