Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC - Immigration Attorneys In California And Utah
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The Star Spangled Banner or the Lupang Hinirang: Still Pinoy

Employment overseas with the promise of greater earning potential drives many Filipinos abroad. Earn your money in the States and send it or spend it back home. Sound familiar? Want to become a permanent resident of the United States so you can go back to the Philippines? Point is, no matter where you're originally from, most people have a yearning at one point or another to go back to the place you call home: the Philippines.

The scenario of a happy reunion coming home as a "balikbayan" has always been eclipsed by the fact that getting one's US citizenship automatically meant losing one's Filipino citizenship. The oath of allegiance to the United States that one is mandated to take before one becomes naturalized effectively expatriates that person from his Filipino citizenship. Until the Naturalization Oath was changed, one was required to renounce allegiance to any other country save for the United States. Not so anymore. One must, however, still rightfully swear their allegiance to the United States and be willing to defend our glorious country, through civilian activities or otherwise.

The landmark legislation Republic Act No. 9225 or the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003", more commonly known as the "dual citizenship" law, benefited more than 1.7 million naturalized Filipinos in the United States alone. Through this new law, natural-born citizens (meaning a person born of one or both parents who are Filipino citizens at the time of birth) who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are given the option to re-acquire their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic.

Essentially, there are two (2) ways of reacquiring Philippine citizenship. If in the Philippines, the former natural-born citizen shall file a petition under oath to the Commissioner of Immigration for the issuance of an Identification Certificate (IC). If abroad, he can file a petition to the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate for evaluation.

Dual-citizenship situations arise in part because there is no single international norm on the acquisition of citizenship. Some countries adhere to the jus soli principle (under which citizenship results from being born in that country) and others, to the jus sanguinis or "right of blood" principle (where you become a citizen because one or both your parents were citizens of that country). Since this concept of dual citizenship arises as a matter of law, it actually requires no action on the part of the dual citizen; sometimes a person may be a dual citizen without him being aware of it.

Citizenship frequently carries with it legal rights/obligations, including but not limited to voting rights and taxation issues. Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship shall enjoy full civil and political rights like the right to vote, right to seek elective public office, practice their profession and of course, the right to own real properties. The right to own land is particularly significant because it is expressly prohibited in the Philippine Constitution for aliens to own land.

An important issue that needs to be addressed though is whether or not reacquiring Philippine citizenship jeopardizes one's American citizenship. Fortunately, it would take more than intent or taking an oath of allegiance to another country for an American to lose citizenship. He must voluntarily sign papers renouncing citizenship. So although American law does not generally favour dual citizenship because of possible conflict of interests (where is your allegiance) that option to reacquire your Philippine citizenship is available. Now, there is no need to choose one or the other. So long as you play your cards right, you can proudly sing both the Star Spangled Banner and the Lupang Hinirang.

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