Did you know you can be both an American and a Mexican citizen? In 1998, Mexico passed the “Mexican Nationality Law,” allowing Mexican citizens to have more than one nationality. Learn how you can become an American citizen, and why would that be something worth considering.
Citizenship and Naturalization
There are other paths to getting American citizenship other than just being born in the country or having American parents; here are some of them:
Citizenship Through One or Both Parents
Children of US citizens are entitled to acquire citizenship even if they were born abroad. The procedure must be done before the age of 18. You can learn more about who qualifies as children of US citizens here.
Naturalization as US Citizen
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that foreign nationals can apply for US citizenship in specific cases. This law does not explicitly mention or prohibit dual citizenship, so applicants don’t need to renounce their original nationalities (unless their country of origin does not recognize dual citizenship).
The most common ways an adult can apply for naturalization are the following:
- Having a permanent resident status (with a permanent residence card or Green Card) for at least five years
- By marrying a US citizen
- Serving the US Armed Forces
Each one has its requirements for eligibility, and they’re not the only path to US citizenship.
Keep in mind: We recommend you review the Naturalization Eligibility Tool the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has available and use it to verify if you’re eligible to apply for naturalization—it’s quick, free, and completely anonymous.
Dual Citizenship Requirements
Once you have met the eligibility requirements, you can start the process to become a US citizen. Requirements will vary depending on each person's reasons for becoming a citizen.
For example, if you apply through marriage, you must present a marriage certificate. Whereas if you have served as part of the Armed Forces, your requirements will be concerning your military status. That said, the general process for all applicants include the following:
Form N-400 is the official form you must fill out to apply for US citizenship with the USCIS. You can print the form and fill it out manually or submit it online. This form includes all the information they require to determine your eligibility to become a US citizen. You must also submit all supporting documentation necessary for your case.
Once your N-400 form has been reviewed and the USCIS determines you’re eligible for US citizenship, you must schedule an appointment to collect your biometric data. To notify you of your eligibility, the USCIS will mail you an I-797C form. You’ll then need to schedule an appointment at an Application Assistance Center (ASC).
The biometric data appointment consists mainly of recording your fingerprints and your digital signature. This will help them keep the US government database updated and verify that you’re indeed who you say you are. Be sure to bring a photo ID and your proof of appointment (Form I-797C) to your designated ASC. We also recommend you review this USCIS site before your meeting.Keep in mind: The cost of the naturalization process is $725 for most people. It includes the N-400 application fee ($640) and the biometric collection fee ($85). If you decide to hire a private service to assist you with the process, we recommend you choose carefully. Unfortunately, scams are common.
To become a US citizen, you'll need to show a basic understanding of English and demonstrate basic American knowledge. The USCIS will schedule an appointment, which includes a short exam consisting of two parts:
- A basic history test. The applicant must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions in an interview. We recommend carefully studying this guide of 100 questions and answers about the history and government of the United States. There’s a test you can take online.
- An elementary English test. A very basic test that does not require mastering the English language. This test consists of three essential parts:
- Oral. You’ll be asked to have a brief conversation with the USCIS officer who is interviewing you.
- Writing. You'll be asked to write one to three sentences.
- Reading. You’ll be asked to read one or two sentences.
Once the USCIS accepts your N-400 form and you pass your interview, you’ll be asked to take an Oath of Allegiance and finally be able to acquire dual Mexican-US citizenship. The oath takes place at a ceremony and can be done in two ways:
- Through a judicial ceremony in which a Court will take your Oath of Allegiance.
- Through an administrative ceremony, in which the USCIS itself takes your oath.
Once you have taken the Oath of Allegiance, your dual citizenship process is complete, and you'll be considered a citizen of the US with all the rights and obligations this entails.
What Are the Benefits of Having Dual Citizenship?
Having dual citizenship can open up a world of possibilities for you. Some of the most relevant benefits dual citizens enjoy are:
Having dual citizenship will allow you to participate in social and civic activities in both countries. For example, you’ll be able to vote and be elected to public office in Mexico and the US (except for the US presidency).
You can choose which passport to use when traveling according to what’s most convenient. This will make your trips between Mexico and the US easier since you’ll be able to enter as a citizen each way. It also means that when you travel to any other country, you can choose the passport that gives you the most benefits, depending on your destination's policies.
Keep in mind: Carry both passports with you when traveling to Mexico as a Dual Citizen.
The US Federal Government is one of the largest employers in the world, with positions reserved for US citizens or permanent residents who are actively seeking citizenship. See this list of the 50 most in-demand jobs within the US Federal Government to which you’ll be able to apply once you have dual citizenship.
The US doesn’t prohibit non-citizens from buying real estate. On the other hand, Mexican laws limit the possession of real estate by foreigners. As a dual citizen, you’ll be able to avoid problems when acquiring properties in either country.
One of the most notable benefits of having both Mexican and United States citizenship is that you can legally reside in either country without limits or restrictions. Not only will you be able to travel between them easily: you’ll also be welcome to stay for as long as you wish.
As a US citizen, you'll be issued a Certificate of Naturalization. This document proves your citizenship to the Federal Government. Replacing the certificate in the case of theft or loss has a cost and can take up to a year, so it’s very important to keep it in a safe place.Although this article focused on obtaining American citizenship, don't forget it’s also possible to become a Mexican national if you’re a US citizen born in Mexico or outside Mexico to Mexican parents. If you have any questions about this or any other topic we address on our site, please feel free to contact us; we’ll be happy to help you.