The title of "Honorary Citizen of the United States" has been granted eight times by an act of Congress or by a proclamation issued by the president pursuant to authorization granted by Congress. The eight individuals are Sir Winston Churchill, Raoul Wallenberg, William Penn, Hannah Callowhill Penn, Mother Teresa, the Marquis de Lafayette, Casimir Pulaski, and Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Gálvez.
Sometimes, the government awarded non-citizen immigrants who died fighting for American forces with the posthumous title of United States citizen, but this is not considered honorary citizenship. In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers.
There is a sense in which corporations can be considered "citizens". Since corporations are considered persons in the eyes of the law, it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier. In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers.
There is a sense in which corporations can be considered "citizens". Since corporations are considered persons in the eyes of the law, it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier. The advantage of "citizenship" is having the protection and support of the United States government when jockeying with foreign governments for access to air routes and overseas airports. Alaska Airlines, a competitor of Virgin America, asked for a review of the situation; according to United States law, "foreign ownership in a United States air carrier is limited to 25% of the voting interest in the carrier", but executives at Virgin America insisted the airline met this requirement.
For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in the United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in the United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the principal place of business of the corporation. There is some degree of disagreement among legal authorities as to how exactly this may be determined.
Another sense of "corporate citizenship" is a way to show support for causes such as social issues and the environment and, indirectly, gain a kind of "reputational advantage".
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) made a minor distinction between United States citizenship and United States nationality. Citizenship comprises a larger set of privileges and rights for those persons that are United States citizens which is not afforded to individuals that are only United States nationals by virtue of their rights under the INA. It is well-established that all United States citizens are United States nationals but not all United States nationals are United States citizens.
The Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national The Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship after the ratification of the Constitution. A number of other Acts and statutes followed the Act of 1790 that expanded or addressed specific situations but it was not until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Pub.L. 82–414, 66 Stat. 163, enacted June 27, 1952), codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. ch. 12), that the variety of statutes governing citizenship law were organized within one single body of text. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 set forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of American nationality. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) addressed citizenship rights. The United States nationality law, despite its "nationality" title, comprises the statutes that embody the law regarding both American citizenship and American nationality.
The United States government takes the position that unincorporated territories of the United States are not "in the United States" for purposes of the Citizenship Clause, and thus individuals born in those territories are only United States citizens at birth if Congress has passed a citizenship statute in regards to that territory. Thus, people born in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands have United States citizenship at birth, while people born in the Northern Mariana Islands have United States citizenship at birth but may elect to give up United States citizenship while retaining United States nationality at the age of 18. Meanwhile, per, people born in American Samoa are United States nationals but not United States citizens at birth, and must apply for naturalization if they wish to become US citizens, which requires them to pay a US$680 fee (as of February 11, 2014), pass a good moral character assessment, be fingerprinted and pass an English and civics examination. The nationality status of a person born in an unincorporated United States Minor Outlying Island is not specifically mentioned by law, but under international law and Supreme Court dicta, they are also regarded as non-citizen nationals of the United States.
The United States government position with regards to American Samoa began to be challenged in court in the 2010s, and has resulted in conflicting rulings: a 2016 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court upheld the United States government's position interpretation that American Samoa is not "in the United States" for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus American Samoans are nationals but not citizens at birth, while a 2019 ruling by the Utah District Court held the contrary and ruled that the American Samoan plaintiffs were United States citizens at birth (the latter ruling was stayed and will be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court, which could result in a circuit split were it to be upheld).
Non-citizen nationals of the United States may reside and work in the United States without restrictions, and may apply for United States citizenship under the same rules as permanent United States residents. Both of these groups are not allowed to vote in federal or state elections, although there is no constitutional prohibition against their doing so. Most nationals of the United States statutorily transmit nationality to children born outside the United States.
The United States passport issued to non-citizen nationals of the United States contains the endorsement code 9 which states: "The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen" on the annotations page.
The issue of citizenship naturalization is a highly contentious matter in United States politics, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election, such as Rudolph Giuliani, tried to "carve out a middle ground" on the issue of illegal immigration, but rivals such as John McCain advocated legislation requiring illegal immigrants to first leave the country before being eligible to apply as citizens. Some measures to require proof of citizenship upon registering to vote have met with controversy.
Controversy can arise when citizenship affects political issues. Whether to include questions about current citizenship status in the United States Census questions has been debated in the Senate.
Controversy can arise when citizenship affects political issues. Whether to include questions about current citizenship status in the United States Census questions has been debated in the Senate. Census data affects state electoral clout; it also affects budgetary allocations. Including non-citizens in Census counts also shifts political power to states that have large numbers of non-citizens due to the fact that reapportionment of congressional seats is based on Census data, and including non-citizens in the census is mandated by the United States Constitution.
There have been controversies based on speculation about which way newly naturalized citizens are likely to vote. Since immigrants from many countries have been presumed to vote Democratic if naturalized, there have been efforts by Democratic administrations to streamline citizenship applications before elections to increase turnout; Republicans, in contrast, have exerted pressure to slow down the process. In 1997, there were efforts to strip the citizenship of 5,000 newly approved immigrants who, it was thought, had been "wrongly naturalized"; a legal effort to do this presented enormous challenges. An examination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of 1.1 million people who were granted citizenship from September 1995 to September 1996 found 4,946 cases in which a criminal arrest should have disqualified an applicant or in which an applicant lied about his or her criminal history. Before the 2008 election, there was controversy about the speed of the USCIS in processing applications; one report suggested that the agency would complete 930,000 applications in time for the newly processed citizens to vote in the November 2008 election. Foreign-born naturalized citizens tend to vote at the same rates as natives. For example, in the state of New Jersey in the 2008 election, the foreign born represented 20.1% of the state's population of 8,754,560; of these, 636,000 were eighteen or older and hence eligible to vote; of eligible voters, 396,000 actually voted, which was about 62%. So foreign-born citizens vote in roughly the same proportion (62%) as native citizens (67%).
There has been controversy about the agency in charge of citizenship. The USCIS has been criticized as being a "notoriously surly, inattentive bureaucracy" with long backlogs in which "would-be citizens spent years waiting for paperwork". Rules made by Congress and the federal government regarding citizenship are highly technical and often confusing, and the agency is forced to cope with enforcement within a complex regulatory milieu. There have been instances in which applicants for citizenship have been deported on technicalities. One Pennsylvania doctor and his wife, both from the Philippines, who applied for citizenship, and one Mr. Darnell from Canada who was married to an American with two children from this marriage, ran afoul of legal technicalities and faced deportation. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen — or even to continue living in the United States". Overworked federal examiners under pressure to make "quick decisions" as well as "weed out security risks" have been described as preferring "to err on the side of rejection". In 2000, 399,670 applications were denied (about 1⁄3 of all applications); in 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12% of those presented.
Generally, eligibility for citizenship is denied for the millions of people living in the United States illegally, although from time to time, there have been amnesties. In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States demanding United States citizenship for illegal immigrants. Many carried banners which read "We Have A Dream Too". One estimate is that there were 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2006. Many American high school students have citizenship issues. In 2008, it was estimated that there were 65,000 illegal immigrant students. The number was less clear for post-secondary education. A 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe 457 U.S. 202 (1982),[e] entitled illegal immigrants to free education from kindergarten through high school. Undocumented immigrants who get arrested face difficulties in the courtroom as they have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings. In 2009, writer Tom Barry of the Boston Review criticized the crackdown against illegal immigrants since it "flooded the federal courts with nonviolent offenders, besieged poor communities, and dramatically increased the United States prison population, while doing little to solve the problem itself". Barry criticized the United States' high incarceration rate as being "fives times greater than the average rate in the rest of the world". Virginia senator Jim Webb agreed that "we are doing something dramatically wrong in our criminal justice system".
United States citizens can relinquish their citizenship, which involves abandoning the right to reside in the United States and all the other rights and responsibilities of citizenship. "Relinquishment" is the legal term covering all seven different potentially-expatriating acts (ways of giving up citizenship) under. "Renunciation" refers to two of those acts: swearing an oath of renunciation before a United States diplomatic or consular officer abroad, or before an official designated by the attorney general within the United States during a state of war. Out of an estimated three to six million United States citizens residing abroad, between five and six thousand relinquished citizenship each year in 2015 and 2016. United States nationality law treats people who performs potentially-expatriating acts with intent to give up United States citizenship as ceasing to be United States citizens from the moment of the act, but United States tax law since 2004 treats such individuals as though they remain United States citizens until they notify the State Department and apply for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN).
Renunciation requires an oath to be sworn before a State Department officer and thus involves in-person attendance at an embassy or consulate, but applicants for CLNs on the basis of other potentially-expatriating acts must attend an in-person interview as well. During the interview, a State Department official assesses whether the person acted voluntarily, intended to abandon all rights of United States citizenship, and understands the consequences of their actions. The State Department strongly recommends that Americans intending to relinquish citizenship have another citizenship, but will permit Americans to make themselves stateless if they understand the consequences. There is a US$2,350 administrative fee for the process. In addition, an expatriation tax is imposed on some individuals relinquishing citizenship, but payment of the tax is not a legal prerequisite for relinquishing citizenship; rather, the tax and its associated forms are due on the normal tax due date of the year following relinquishment of citizenship. State Department officials do not seek to obtain any tax information from the interviewee, and instruct the interviewee to contact the IRS directly with any questions about taxes.