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Spanish and U.S. Dual Citizenship: Does Spanish Nationality Affect US Status?

21 de June, 2024

Spanish and U.S. Dual Citizenship: Does Spanish Nationality Affect US Status?

Having this new citizenship mean losing American nationality? Find out when and how it is possible to have dual Spanish-American citizenship.
Flags of US and Spain: Double Citizenship
Reading: 4 min

In this article, we will attempt to answer a question we frequently hear from our clients: Does acquiring Spanish nationality affect US Status? Having this new citizenship mean losing American nationality? Here, we will explore when and how it is possible to have dual Spanish-American citizenship.

We live in an increasingly connected world where the interest in obtaining dual citizenship is only growing, especially among those who wish to expand their opportunities and rights. In the United States, which has a large population of Latin origin, many descendants of Spaniards wish to acquire Spanish citizenship. Before taking any action, however, it is crucial to understand the implications of this decision for those who already hold American citizenship.

Read the article to the end and find out who can maintain both American and Spanish nationalities, what the law says, and what the risks are.

Does the U.S. allow dual citizenship?

Can Americans have 2 citizenships?? Well… American law does not explicitly prohibit dual citizenship, but it also does not encourage it as an official policy…

Dual Citizenship: General Rules for Spain and the U.S.

Both Spain and the United States impose some restrictions on obtaining double citizenship. Therefore, each case needs to be analyzed individually, as there are exceptions, and the manner in which the new nationality is acquired makes all the difference.

Dual citizenship by descent may be possible, while that by naturalization (as in the case of citizenship by residency) may be unfeasible.

What does the law of each country say?

Spain:

Allows dual nationality with some countries, mainly from Ibero-America, but not with the United States. Spaniards who acquire US nationality automatically lose their Spanish nationality unless they expressly maintain it by:

  • Residing continuously in Spain for 3 years after acquiring American nationality.
  • Being a child or grandchild of an original Spaniard.
  • Being born in Spain.


United States:

Generally does not recognize dual citizenship with any country, except Canada and Mexico in very specific cases. Therefore, Americans who acquire Spanish nationality may lose their US nationality. However, there are also exceptions, as explained below.

Exceptions to the Loss of American Nationality

  • Democratic Memory Law: Approved in October 2022 and valid until October 24, 2024, this law offers a pathway to Spanish citizenship for grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Spaniards exiled during the Civil War and Francoism. Beneficiaries of this law can retain their original nationality, allowing dual citizenship without the need for renunciation.
  • Minors: In exceptional situations, minors can maintain both nationalities if requested by parents or legal guardians.

Can I be a dual citizen of Spain and the USA?

The answer is not simple: it depends!!

The United States and Spain do not have a formal dual nationality agreement. Therefore, an American who opts for Spanish nationality generally must do so by renouncing their previous nationality.

However, there are important exceptions. The Democratic Memory Law, approved in October 2022, allows descendants of Spaniards exiled during the Civil War and Francoism to acquire Spanish citizenship without having to give up American citizenship. This also applies to other nationalities, such as British, where dual citizenship is permitted under this specific law.

So, is it possible to obtain Spanish nationality and maintain American citizenship?

Yes, it is possible! If Spanish nationality is acquired in a way that does not imply renunciation of American citizenship, such as in the case of the Democratic Memory Law, a person can maintain both nationalities.

In summary…

  • Dual Citizenship via bloodline: permitted in some cases (ex: through the Democratic Memory Law).
  • Dual Citizenship via naturalization by residency: (visas, marriage…) must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

How can I obtain Spanish Nationality?

We have a comprehensive article on our website about the ways to obtain Spanish citizenship. In summary, it is possible to become a Spanish citizen in the following ways:

  • Being born in Spain;
  • Having Spanish parents or grandparents;
  • Residing in the country for a certain period of time: Some countries grant citizenship to foreigners who reside in the country for a certain period of time, usually along with other requirements such as learning the language and passing a citizenship test;
  • Marrying a citizen of the country: In some countries, you can obtain citizenship by marrying a citizen of the country;
  • Legally residing in Spain for a certain period of time (variable according to the original nationality and reason for the request);
  • By a naturalization letter provided as an honor by the Spanish government.


List of countries with dual nationality agreements with Spain:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ecuador
  • France (since April 1, 2022)
  • Philippines
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • El Salvador
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Spanish Citizenship for Ibero-Americans

On the other hand, it will not be necessary to renounce your nationality for those who are citizens of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, or Portugal. For these purposes, Ibero-American countries are considered those in which Spanish or Portuguese is one of the official languages. For the purposes of acquiring dual nationality, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana are not considered Ibero-American, while Puerto Rico is considered Ibero-American.

Spanish Nationality Affect US Status?

While obtaining Spanish citizenship for Americans may lead to the loss of American citizenship, there are exceptions and opportunities that can be explored. Each case requires a detailed analysis. Therefore, it is essential to seek specialized guidance to make the best possible decision.

If you are considering this possibility, contact Atlantic Bridge for a detailed consultation. Our team of specialists is ready to help turn your dream into reality, providing the best guidance and support throughout the process.

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Silvia Resende

Author:

Silvia Resende

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