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My daughter was born in England and came to America 32 years ago. She is an American citizen. Two years ago she moved to the UK with a British passport. She now wants to return to the US but doesn't have a US passport. She has never had a US passport.

As a US citizen, can she return using her British passport only?

marked as duplicate by Giorgio, user 56513, Newton, Jim MacKenzie, Rory Alsop Apr 19 '18 at 17:35

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    She should get a US passport before the trip. She can do that in the UK. – phoog Apr 19 '18 at 19:43
  • I would, as I am sure we all would, love to hear a what happened comment, by either the OP or the daughter. – CGCampbell Apr 26 '18 at 12:22

There are two conflicting laws

  1. US citizens must use a US passport to enter the US
  2. A US citizen cannot be denied entry

The going legal opinion seems to be that #2 will trump #1, so if your daughter shows up at the border with sufficient proof of citizenship, chances are she will eventually be admitted. See for example https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/16654/can-us-citizens-be-denied-entry-to-the-us

However, getting to the border itself will be difficult. No airline will allow her to board with an expired US passport.

The solution is easy enough: she should get a US passport. If you are in a hurry, do this: https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/u-s-passports/emergency-passports/

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    She can also fly to Canada or Mexico and cross overland. – JonathanReez Apr 19 '18 at 15:42
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    "Chances are": there's actually an old CBP inspector's manual, available in redacted form because of a freedom of information request, in which CBP inspectors are instructed to admit US citizens without passports after explaining that a passport is necessary. The manual notes that the officer is "technically waiving" the passport requirement on behalf of the Secretary of State, but that there is no form required, nor a fee to be paid by the traveler. Policies do change, of course. A web search for cbp inspector's field manual currently yields several sources for the document in PDF format. – phoog Apr 19 '18 at 19:42
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    "going legal opinion": That seems to imply that opinion might change, but it's not particularly controversial or likely to do so. That's because #2.is a fundamental right inherent in the definition of citizenship, while #1 is just statutory law. – phoog Apr 20 '18 at 0:46
  • @CGCampbell: ESTA application requires you to state all your citizenships. It's unlikely that they would give ESTA to a US citizen – Hilmar Apr 22 '18 at 12:16
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    @CGCampbell: but without ESTA no airlines will let her board a US bound flight on a UK passport – Hilmar Apr 24 '18 at 15:46

No, it is illegal for US citizens to enter or leave the US on other than a US passport. Leaving and entering the US with a foreign passport

  • 2
    It's "unlawful," but it is not a crime to violate that law, and there is no penalty for doing so. – phoog Apr 19 '18 at 19:43

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