Many people think that American citizens who have long lived outside the United States lose their nationality. Is this true?

No. It is a myth. To lose the U.S. citizenship (voluntarily or involuntarily), you need to do more than just live in another country. You have to renounce it or do certain things that change your status.

This confusion was generated by changes in the law through the years. According to the previous laws, the following factors would cause the loss of your nationality:

  1. Being born outside the United States between 1934 and 1978, acquiring the citizenship by one of your parents, and staying out of the country for a number of years.
  2. Residing in another country after having married a foreigner.
  3. If you had obtained the nationality through naturalization and resided outside the United States.

What can people who lost their nationality under the former laws do? Most of these people could recover their nationality. Nevertheless, this does not mean that their children can acquire the citizenship immediately.

Rights, Obligations and Other Situations to Be Considered

U.S. citizens who usually live in another country, keep the rights inherent to the citizenship. For example, they may get passports and renewals at embassies and consulates.  These institutions protect them as well.

Other rights to be highlighted are:

  1. The right to vote in federal elections.
  2. The right to receive Social Security checks if you are a retiree or a disabled person.
  3. The right to transmit the citizenship to your children.