Will I Lose U.S. Citizenship if I Reacquire Philippine Citizenship?

PHILIPPINE President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Dual Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act into law on August 23, 2003. This law gives natural born Filipinos who are naturalized citizens of foreign countries such as the United States the right to reacquire their Philippine citizenship, thereby acquiring dual citizenship.

Many Filipinos are concerned that they might lose their U.S. citizenship by reacquiring their Philippine citizenship. There are a variety of ways a U.S. citizen can lose his or her citizenship. One way is by taking an oath of allegiance to another country if that foreign country requires the applicant to renounce his or her allegiance to the United States, and the applicant does so voluntarily and knowingly. Under the Act, Filipinos must apply for reacquisition and take an oath of allegiance to the Philippine government. The oath is simply a reaffirmation of oneís support of the laws of the Philippine government. A person may also lose U.S. citizenship by: obtaining naturalization in another country with the intent to give up U.S. citizenship; serving in the armed forces of another country; working for the government of a foreign state; making a formal renunciation before a consular or diplomatic officer; or committing an act of treason.

The oath of allegiance required by the Philippine government does not result in the loss of U.S. citizenship: Philippine State Department officials informed Attorney Robert Reeves of the Law Offices of Reeves & Associates “that there is an agreement between the Philippine and U.S. governments that reacquisition will not cause any loss of U.S. citizenship.” According to Attorney Reeves, “in order to trigger revocation of U.S. citizenship, the oath must contain words of renunciation. There are no words or statements or renunciation of U.S. allegiance included in the oath.” However, a candidate for public office in the Philippines must renounce their U.S. citizenship or citizenship of any other foreign country before filing a certificate of candidacy.

Already, over 200 Filipinos in Los Angeles alone have benefited from the Act and acquired dual citizenship since September 17, 2003. There are many benefits in acquiring dual citizenship. Filipino-Americans will have the right to vote, right to own property and land, and the right to engage in business in the Philippines. According to Robert L. Reeves, “not only will this dual citizenship law help Filipinos in businesses, but it will also improve the Philippine economy with real estate and business investments.”

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the consulates in various U.S. cities are currently processing applications for dual citizenship. There was a temporary halt in the administration of applications between October 1, 2003 and December 1, 2003 in order to implement more uniform procedures at Philippine Consulates. Interested applicants must apply in person and bring their naturalization certificate, birth certificate, and a colored 2 x 2 photograph. The oath-taking fee is $25 and the oath is done on the same day. U.S. citizens living in the Philippines who are interested in reacquiring Philippine citizenship can apply at the Bureau of Immigration. President Macapagal-Arroyo designated the Bureau of Immigration as the government agency in charge of the administration of dual citizenship.

Filipinos naturalized in countries other than the United States should inquire what impact reacquisition of Philippine citizenship may have on that other country.

Written by: Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Leslie Veloso Tioseco.