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I became a naturalized US citizen on May 11 and immediately applied for an expedited passport. The processing time for new passports is 7-9 weeks. It’s been two weeks and my passport is still being processed.

My father is ill and I have booked a flight to see him abroad. I have a hospitalization notice from his doctor. But I cannot get a passport appointment for urgent travel. I’ve called the passport line at the US state department dozens of times, stayed on hold an average of 1.5 hours and yesterday was told there was not a single appointment anywhere in the US between now and June 8, my day of travel. How is that possible??? What happens if I travel on my other passport and explain the reasons why?

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    Don't you need to give up foreign citizenship to naturalise as an American citizen?
    – nick012000
    Jun 4, 2023 at 22:12
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    @nick012000: No, you don't. The State Department has some warnings about how having multiple citizenships can cause issues in some situations on their website, but there is no general prohibition on Americans holding other citizenships.
    – Kevin
    Jun 5, 2023 at 7:37
  • @Kevin My understanding is that an American citizen can naturalise to become a citizen of another country without losing their American citizenship, and you can be born a dual citizen, but you need to give up foreign citizenship to naturalise as an American.
    – nick012000
    Jun 5, 2023 at 10:54
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    @nick012000 you don't need to give up foreign citizenship to naturalize in the US. The oath or affirmation that is required in the naturalization ceremony says "I...renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen" but it has no effect in US law and even less in the law of most other countries. The US does not enforce the renunciation of other nationalities by naturalized US citizens, neither before nor after they acquire US citizenship.
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2023 at 11:25
  • @nick012000 some countries have laws that provide for automatic loss of citizenship when a citizen naturalizes elsewhere, but that is of course a matter of the other country's law, and none of these laws that I'm aware of conditions the loss of nationality on the specific language of any oath of allegiance; rather, the loss of nationality is triggered by the willful acquisition of any other nationality.
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2023 at 11:42

3 Answers 3

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It is technically "unlawful" for a US citizen to enter or leave the US without "bearing" a US passport (or alternative document as allowed by the US government, mostly border crossing cards for the land border), under to 8 USC 1185(b). However, no law or regulation provides for any penalty for violating this law, and violating it will not impact your future ability to get a US passport or obtain any other services.

Since the US does not have physical exit controls, nothing will stop you from traveling out of the US without a US passport, as long as you have the documents to enter the destination country (e.g. with your non-US passport). If you are traveling by air, the airline will almost certainly only care about your ability to enter the destination country. It is theoretically possible for CBP to make random checks of departing passengers, but this is extremely rare and I have never seen it.

Of course, once you are abroad, the next question is about how you would return to the US. Assuming you have to fly back to the US, the airline will not let you board without a US passport, since you don't have a green card anymore and presumably you don't have a US visa or ESTA or any other document accepted for travel to the US. You could apply for a US passport at any US consulate abroad, but that may take some time. (Although, given your situation, I am assuming that leaving the US to visit your father is very urgent, but coming back to the US is less urgent, so I am guessing that, in the worst case, having to be stuck abroad for a while is still worth it.) Or, if your passport is received in the US, a friend in the US could try to mail it to you abroad.

Another option for returning to the US would be, if you can get a visa or visa-free access to Canada or Mexico on your non-US passport, you can travel to Canada or Mexico and then enter the US by land, with your Certificate of Naturalization and other IDs to prove your US citizenship. This would again violate the law mentioned above, but they cannot deny entry to a US citizen. So if they are satisfied with your US citizenship (which probably involves temporarily detaining you while they verify your citizenship, and giving you a lecture), they have to let you in, and there are no other penalties or other consequences for entering without a US passport. (They might impose a fee for such cases in the future, but as of now they haven't done so.)

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    "presumably you don't have a US visa or ESTA": it may be possible to fly back with ESTA (depending on the second nationality, of course). Government sources are not terribly clear on this, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the system does not refuse ESTA automatically when dual citizens apply, even when they mention their US citizenship in the application. The government formerly mentioned this possibility on one or more websites, but that was deleted some years ago. Still, IIRC some of the anecdotes I've encountered occurred after that deletion. The only problem I've read about ...
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2023 at 11:18
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    ... appears to have been caused by preclearance officers in Canada refusing to admit a dual citizen under these circumstances, but I the user who posted about this wasn't clear about precisely who prevented her from flying.
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2023 at 11:20
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    Would the Certificate of Naturalization or other IDs also work for flights directly to the US?
    – bracco23
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:34
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    @bracco23: No, Certificate of Naturalization is not a document that airlines are allowed to accept for travel to the US. See the Carrier Information Guide.
    – user102008
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:03
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    @Flydog57: In order to board the plane with a foreign passport, you need a US visa or ESTA, unless it is a Canadian, Bermudan, Marshall Islands, Palauan, or Micronesian passport.
    – user102008
    Jun 6, 2023 at 0:44
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What happens if I travel on my other passport...

Probably nothing.

...and explain the reasons why?

To whom? Nobody is likely to ask.

Your biggest problem is going to be getting back to the US, because you're going to be outside the US and your passport is going to be inside, but that is not an insurmountable problem. The details will depend on what your other nationality is and on where you're traveling from. If you want a more detailed analysis, you can post another question with those details.

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Unfortunately you wont be able to travel unless you have a US passport even if you have dual citizenship. When you become a naturalized citizen, You green card is taken away. In addition, you will need a visa on your other passport or an ESTA if your passport is from a Visa Waiver Program country. Most importantly dual citizenship is only for born US citizens. When a person naturalizes they renounce to their loyalty and citizenship to other countries is part of the oath which was signed during the interview and then took under oath during ceremony. As of right now the Department of State does have appointments and if you have an emergency they will issue you a passport on the same day for $190 and proof of flight. Many times the appointment will be given in another state nearby.

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    – Community Bot
    Jun 7, 2023 at 2:55
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    This answer is incorrect. The US oath of allegiance does have a statement about renouncing allegiance to other countries, but this statement has no legal effect and the US government treats a naturalized citizen with dual citizenship no differently from a natural-born citizen with dual citizenship. The government does not require renunciation of existing nationalities before or after naturalization. Some people lose their original nationality on naturalizing in the US because it is a consequence of the other country's law; US law has nothing to do with that. See comments on the answer.
    – phoog
    Jun 8, 2023 at 12:38
  • I meant to say "see comments on the question."
    – phoog
    Jun 8, 2023 at 16:36

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