I am a United States citizen. However, I reside in the Middle East. Upon hearing this, a US border patrol officer asked me to disclose to him all other citizenships that I hold.

I know that US border patrol has the right to determine an individual’s admissibility to the United States. However, given that I am a US citizen, could I be arrested/denied entry if I do not wish to disclose my other nationalities for privacy reasons?

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    No US Citizen can be denied entry into the USA. This has been established in case law. You can be on a no fly list however once you manage to present yourself at US borders, you have a right to be let in regardless of whether you are a terrorist etc. On the other hand I believe they have the absolute authority to ask about your other citizenships. Remember that legally the USA merely tolerates dual citizenship i.e. it winks and looks the other way. Aug 2, 2018 at 16:03
  • @TheZealot dual citizenship is covered by the same case law. See Afroyim v. Rusk - its not because Department of State suddenly changed its position itself.
    – George Y.
    Aug 2, 2018 at 16:21
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    @GeorgeY. I don't think we are in disagreement. Afroyim v Rusk did not say the USA loves dual citizenship. It just said he could not be stripped of his US Citizenship involuntarily just because he is a citizen elsewhere. In my interpretation, it is tolerated. The Afroyim decision opened the way for a wider acceptance of dual (or multiple) citizenship in United States law. travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/… Aug 2, 2018 at 16:27
  • Is this question about Border Patrol (green uniforms, operate near the border but not at ports of entry) or CBP immigration inspectors (blue uniforms, examine passports at ports of entry and make admissibility decisions)?
    – phoog
    Sep 9, 2020 at 22:59
  • If they indeed "have the absolute authority to ask about your other citizenships," what is the penalty for choosing not to disclose? Seems somewhat analogous to court rulings that established a police officer may not demand identification without reasonable suspicion of a crime.
    – WGroleau
    Sep 10, 2020 at 2:36

2 Answers 2


This question appears to be about Customs and Border Protection immigration inspectors rather than Border Patrol officers. (Border Patrol is a distinct agency, although it is subordinate to CBP in the government's organizational chart.)

Are US citizens obligated to disclose foreign citizenships to US border patrol upon entry?


I know that US border patrol has the right to determine an individual’s admissibility to the United States.

US citizens cannot be found inadmissible. Grounds of inadmissibility apply only to aliens. See 8 USC 1182.

given that I am a US citizen, could I be arrested/denied entry if I do not wish to disclose my other nationalities for privacy reasons?

You cannot be denied entry. You can be arrested if the arresting officer has a warrant or probable cause to suspect that you have committed a felony. Now it's possible to imagine circumstances under which your not disclosing additional citizenships might reinforce an officer's suspicion that you have committed a crime, but by itself it cannot provide that suspicion, because of the fifth amendment.

In practice, of course, an immigration officer can make your life difficult by delaying your entry. While they are not supposed to delay you on immigration grounds once they are convinced that you are a US citizen, they can delay you on customs grounds and they could probably even manufacture some uncertainty about your US citizenship if they were pressed to do so. For example, they could claim to be looking into whether you had performed any of the statutory "expatriating acts" that could result in your losing US citizenship (but only if you perform the act with the intention of losing your US citizenship, and the government formally presumes that you have no such intention).

Finally, in short, it's not legal for them to demand an answer to that question, but they can nonetheless make your life difficult if you don't answer it. There's no judge looking over the immigration officer's shoulder, and the only way for you to get the question before a judge is to file suit, a process that takes weeks to years. At the end of a long flight, if you want to get home, your best course of action is probably to answer.

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    Many recent events show that what is illegal is not a reliable predictor of what will happen.
    – WGroleau
    Sep 10, 2020 at 2:40
  • Under what conditions would an immigration officer perform a customs inspection? Dissatisfaction about an immigration specific question would normally not be a valid reason for a customs officer to perform a special customs inspection. Sep 10, 2020 at 6:59
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    @MarkJohnson in the US they are essentially the same people. At airports there are separate zones set up for immigration and customs (before and after you get your bags, respectively) but the "immigration" officer usually does a preliminary customs inspection (asking if you have anything to declare, what you are bringing in) and I believe they can mark your declaration form to send you to secondary immigration or customs screening.
    – ajd
    Sep 10, 2020 at 12:52
  • @ajd Has this changed in the last 5-10 years in the US? Normally Customs is a distinct area of speciality, with special training in the area of taxes, duties but also in the area of agriculture and disease / health matters. Whereas Immigration is more similar to police tasks (inforcement of laws etc). Sep 10, 2020 at 13:06
  • @MarkJohnson even before the creation of CBP, which merged immigration and customs inspectors into one agency, immigration officers would perform preliminary customs screening and processing of the customs declaration form. Even after the merger, individual officers will still be specialized in one area or another, especially at the larger ports. But both immigration and customs inspectors are involved in the enforcement of laws; in fact far more people are arrested at ports of entry by customs inspectors.
    – phoog
    Sep 10, 2020 at 19:06

According to ACLU:

Agents at ports of entry may question people about their citizenship and what they are bringing into the country. Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may deny you entry to the U.S. or detain you for search and/or questioning

So you must answer every question related to your US citizenship when you get to the border, but on every other question you may remain silent. What other citizenships you have is completely immaterial to your status as a US citizen and therefore CBP officers can't demand to know that information.

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    -1 It said their citizenship, doesn't necessarily have to mean only US citizenship. I'll change my vote if you offer more compelling evidence. Aug 2, 2018 at 17:46
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    Once border guards have established that you are a US citizen they cannot deny you entry. So you have to answer enough questions to establish your US citizenship. Aug 2, 2018 at 17:51
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    @DJClayworth given that a US passport is conclusive evidence of US citizenship, what other questions would they ask?
    – ajd
    Aug 2, 2018 at 19:42
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    @ajd. A great question. "Did you steal this passport?" I suppose. Aug 2, 2018 at 19:49
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    @JonathanReez That's, however, the whole scope of the question.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 3, 2018 at 4:33

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