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Reclaiming lost citizenship

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Updated: 4/13/2007 6:36 pm
There have been many incidents where individuals have lost their U.S. citizenship because of an inability or failure to meet certain requirements needed to obtain or keep their citizenship. For example, between 1934 and 1978, children born outside of the United States who acquired citizenship through their parents could lose their claim to their American citizenship if they didn’t reside in the country for a specific period of time. Some expatriated individuals who chose to become citizens of another country have lost their American citizenship before dual nationality was recognized by the United States. There has even been a time when individuals born before May 24, 1934 could only acquire citizenship if their father was a citizen, leaving those children born before that date with only citizen mothers unable to claim their American citizenship. Of course, many laws have been passed over the years, reversing or relaxing the necessary requirements to obtain or keep your citizenship. However, since citizenship laws have rarely been retroactive, there wasn’t much you could do to reclaim your citizenship status if you lost it before a change in law occurred. Fortunately, a new law known as the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act was passed in 1994 to eliminate retroactively many previous citizenship requirements deemed unfair. Thus, it’s now possible to reclaim your U.S. citizenship even if you lost it before the law that caused you to lose your citizenship was made invalid. The act even makes it possible to reclaim the citizenship status of parents no longer living so that you and your children’s offspring may benefit. Keep in mind, however, that the act doesn’t affect the various residency requirements imposed on U.S. citizen parents in previous statutes. In most cases, if you’re eligible to reclaim your lost citizenship status, under the Immigration and Nationality Technical Correction Act you’ll be asked to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America to regain your citizenship formally. To initiate the process, contact the U.S. embassy in the foreign country you’re residing in or the U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizens Consular Services.
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