Can You Lose Your U.S. Citizenship?

Jun 24, 2015 | Citizenship

As a Miami immigration attorney, I have sometimes received concerned questions about whether it is possible to lose your U.S. citizenship after obtaining it (i.e. becoming naturalized). Below are some frequently asked questions?

I need/want to live outside of the United States for a long period of time. Will I lose my citizenship?
Generally- no. If you are already a US citizens, or have gone through the naturalization process to become a US citizenship, you will not lose citizenship solely by living outside of the United States for a long time (although there are certain factors you should be aware of – read on).

I am a green card holder (Legal Permanent Resident), and I need to live outside the United States for a long time. Will I lose my green card status?
If you are a green card holder and not a US citizen, you may have a problem. The immigration authorities typically frown upon green card holders who live outside the US for a long time, because they can be found to have “abandoned” their residency in the US. If this scenario applies to you, I would strongly suggest that you consult with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options, as you could be refused reentry to the United States.

Are there any circumstances whereby a US citizen will lose his/her citizenship?
There are some exceptions, including when one of the following takes place:

  • Your citizenship was obtained illegally (through fraud or concealment of a material fact), and the U.S. government revokes your citizenship. If this happens, it would be best for you to call a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
  • You do something that falls under the U.S.’s “loss of nationality” statute. An important thing to notice about this statute is that it contains some wiggle room: The person who performs the relevant act must do so “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality” in order to lose citizenship. These include:
    • You become the citizen of another country after age 18. (Remember – you also have to “intend” to relinquish US nationality).
    • You join the military of a foreign state that is currently engaged in hostilities against the U.S. If this applies to you, you may be found to have relinquished your U.S. citizenship.
    • Joining the government of a foreign state after age 18. If you serve in any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state, and you either acquire that state’s nationality or take a required oath, the US immigration authorities may find that you have relinquished your U.S. citizenship.
    • You performed an act to intentionally give up your citizenship. Some people, perhaps because they wish to live in another country which does not permit dual citizenship, may file a formal act of renunciation.
    • You committed treason or other acts against the U.S. government. Conspiring to do things like overthrow, bear arms against, or make war on the United States can result in a finding that you have given up your U.S. citizenship.

If you would like more information on citizenship issues, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at