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What is Nationality Law?

Nationality law is concerned with defining the ways in which a country determines the ways the nationality and citizenship of its people is gained or lost. Nationality law is often concurrent with immigration, asylum and refugee law; these usually interact with each other. Though most countries have some kind of nationality laws, these laws are applied differently between countries and regions of the world. Here is a brief breakdown of nationality law as it is applied in the United States.

Nationality Law in the United States

Nationality law in the United States is concerned with the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the acquisition of citizenship. With regards to rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States, citizens have the right to vote and fully participate in the US' political system (possible exceptions include any felons), are protected and represented by the US in different countries and overseas and are given residence in the US and its territories. Citizens are liable for jury service and are required to pay income and property taxes, as well as state taxes where applicable, and men eighteen and over have to apply for Selective Service.

People can gain citizenship in the United States various ways. The majority of US citizens are 'natural-born,' meaning they were born on United States soil to parents who are themselves citizens.

If you're born in the US, but don't have parents who are US citizens, you are still considered a US citizen have all the rights it accords.

If you are born abroad to US citizens, you are considered a citizen of the US, and depending on the rules of the country you're born in abroad, you may apply as a citizen there as well; this is called a dual citizenship.

If you are born abroad to one US citizen and a foreign person, you are considered a US citizen if one of your parents is a citizen who lived in the US at least five years prior to your birth after their fourteenth birthday.

Last but not least, you can become a US citizen through naturalization, wherein you must apply for citizenship to the United States. As part of your application, you must take a citizenship test and meet the criteria for becoming a US citizen, which can include residency for a certain number of years in the US, knowledge of the US' official language and various others.

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