How to Obtain Filipino and American Dual Citizenship

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The United States and the Philippines share a long history of diplomatic and sociocultural relations. Even though the Philippine-American War at the end of the 19th century was a tragic event, it is important to remember that the Philippine islands were once a territory of the U.S. and later a Commonwealth until after World War II, when the country became independent; since then, relations between the two nations have strengthened, and this extends to the concept of dual citizenship.

American and Filipino immigration laws allow dual citizenship in some cases. One example would be Filipinos who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces; the Navy is a branch that has attracted many sailors from the Philippines because of the Subic Bay Naval Base, which was in operation until 1992 and served as a recruiting station of sorts. There used to be some apprehension among Filipino sailors who would have lost their birthright citizenship if they chose to become naturalized Americans, but this changed in 2003 with the enactment of Republic Act 9225.

Filipinos Born Abroad

The aforementioned Republic Act observes a couple of legal principles that many countries around the world have incorporated into their legislation: jus soli and jus sanguinis. Let’s say a Filipina born in Mindanao joined the U.S. Navy and later decided to become a naturalized U.S. citizen; under the jus soli principle, this sailor is automatically a citizen of the Philippines by means of birthright, and she merely needs to obtain a copy of her birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority, which has an online service platform known as PSA Serbilis.

With a certified copy of the birth certificate, a Filipino can request national identification documents from a consulate office abroad or from the Bureau of Immigration Office in Manila or its branches across the islands. As of 2018, the fees were $50 for processing and $25 per certification of copies.

The jus sanguinis principle applies to individuals born abroad to Filipino parents, which makes them natural-born Filipinos. In the case of Filipinos born in the U.S., the laws of both countries allow dual citizenship, thus they will not have to worry about losing either one, but the process is a bit more involved than for birthright Filipinos.

Americans Who Wish to Become Filipino Citizens

Foreigners whose nationalities do not meet the jus soli or jus sanguinis principles can become Filipino citizens through the process of naturalization; however, they will have to renounce their previous citizenship. To this effect, not many Americans who do not have Filipino blood ties become naturalized citizens in the Philippines, although there are thousands who choose to live and retire there.

It should be noted that an American who becomes a naturalized Filipino citizen is not automatically off the hook with regard to U.S. obligations, particularly taxes. The proper way to go about cutting ties with the U.S. is through the renunciation process, which is complex and must be handled through the U.S. State Department. Americans who renounce their citizenship are typically very wealthy and have a financial interest in avoiding taxation abroad.