Can you become a U.S. senator if you have dual citizenship? Or is there a law that says you can only become a U.S. senator if you have only one citizenship and you are a U.S. citizen? I know you can be a naturalized U.S. citizen and become a Senator, but I am not sure if you need to renounce your second citizenship in order to become a Senator.

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    Ted Cruz managed it, without renouncing his Canadian citizenship....
    – DJohnM
    Aug 3, 2021 at 23:54
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    @DJohnM Ted Cruz is no longer a Canadian citizen, and may have ceased to be one before he formally renounced he Canadian citizenship in 2014. He believed that he had already ceased to be a dual citizen in 2014 when he did so, but took absolute care to make the matter clear. cnn.com/2014/06/11/politics/ted-cruz-canada-citizenship/…
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 4, 2021 at 0:44
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    I don't believe there's any way he could have just "lost" Cdn citizenship, having been born in Canada in 1970; his mother's apparent advice, that he'd need to "affirm it", was simply incorrect. At a glance I don't see when Cruz's kids were born, but if it was before he officially renounced in 2014, I believe they are also citizens, whether they ever claim a passport or not, unless they have also renounced it. Their father's birth certificate from Alberta, and their own listing him as their father, should be enough to prove it.
    – CCTO
    Aug 4, 2021 at 13:04
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    The Constitutional requirements for being a US Senator are all over the web.
    – RonJohn
    Aug 5, 2021 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


The U.S. Constitution merely requires that you be a U.S. citizen, that you be at least 30 years of age, that you have resided nine years in the United States, and that you currently reside in the state from which you are elected, to be a U.S. Senator.

The courts have held that extra-constitutional qualifications for the office may not be imposed.

The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the historical understanding that the Constitution provides the exclusive qualifications to be a Member of Congress, and that neither a state nor Congress itself may add to or change such qualifications to federal office, absent a constitutional amendment. Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 522 (1969); U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 800-801 (1995); Cook v. Gralike, 531 U.S. 510 (2001).

(Source: Congressional Research Service).

Therefore, a dual citizen can be a U.S. Senator under U.S. law.

This said, the oath of office involved in becoming a U.S. Senator is something that would be considered a voluntary relinquishment of the individual's non-U.S. citizenship by many countries. Under U.S. law:

[W]ith the exception of formal denaturalization, a United States citizen can lose his citizenship only if he voluntarily performs an act that is “in derogation of allegiance to the United States,” 42 Op. Att’y Gen. 397, 400 (1969), and that was committed with the intent to relinquish United States citizenship. See Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252, 261 (1980). “[A]n act which does not reasonably manifest an individual’s transfer or abandonment of allegiance to the United States cannot be made a basis for expatriation.” 42 Op. Att’y. Gen. at 400.

Although the Supreme Court has definitively held that Congress cannot provide by statute for involuntary expatriations, it has upheld Congress’ authority to prescribe by statute the types of acts that Congress considers to be generally “highly persuasive evidence . . . of a purpose to abandon citizenship.” See Nishikawa v. Dulles, 356 U.S. at 139; Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. at 261, 265. These acts are set forth in § 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1481. One of these specified acts is a “formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state.” 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a)(6).

Other specified acts include: obtaining naturalization in a foreign state; taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state; serving in the armed forces of a foreign state; serving in an office or employment under the government of a foreign state that requires assumption of the nationality of that state or a declaration of allegiance to that state; or committing an act of treason against the United States. Id. § 1481(a)(l)-(4), (7).

Thus, under U.S. law, the oath of office required to serve as a U.S. Senator if made to a state other than the United States (e.g. in connection with being sworn in as a Mexican Senator), would end the dual citizenship of the person being sworn in to public office, and make them only a citizen of the country in which that elected official held public office (in this example, of Mexico).

Many countries cause dual citizenship to be relinquished under similar circumstances.

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    However, your hypothetical Mexican Senator could inform the US government that they did not intend to renounce their US citizenship by taking the Mexican Senate oath. It appears that under current State Department policy, they'd be taken at their word, and would remain a US citizen. Not sure if the Mexican Senate would let them stay in office, though. Aug 4, 2021 at 3:31
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    @NateEldredge for most people and most potentially expatriating acts, it is more than just the State Department taking someone at their word; there is a presumption that the requisite intent is lacking, so there's no need to get a statement from the person concerned. I'm not sure whether this would apply to a US citizen swearing an oath as a foreign legislator.
    – phoog
    Aug 4, 2021 at 22:38
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    Boris Johnson was a member of the UK parliament while also a US citizen and the State Department didn't care. Aug 5, 2021 at 1:11
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    @JonathanReez In the case of UK Parliament, the oath references Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, but not the state/nation/commonwealth/etc. While it is understood to mean the same thing, perhaps from a US legal perspective, swearing allegiance to a person is technically not the same as to a state? Aug 5, 2021 at 2:23
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact U.S. law has not made that distinction. Indeed, the U.S. constitution discusses allegiances to foreign monarchs primarily with only a secondary nod to foreign republics or nations.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 5, 2021 at 19:31

The US Constitution states the qualifications for being a Senator (Article I, section 3, clause 3)

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen

Congress is not empowered to change these requirements.

Edit: The Constitution is saying, to be a Senator, you must:

  • Be at least 30 years old
  • Been a US citizen for at least 9 years (implying: immigrants OK).
  • actually live in the State you represent when elected (implied: you would live in the national capitol during your term, since travel in 1789 was very difficult).
  • 1
    Congress theoretically could change those requirements, but it would take a constitutional amendment, and I don't see it happening any time soon, as neither of the 2 major parties seems to want it, and I believe you'd need a super-majority in the Senate - and I don't think I've heard even 1 Senator pushing for it, let alone 2/3rds of them. Aug 5, 2021 at 19:41
  • Well, Congress can suggest an amendment, but the states must approve one.
    – user6726
    Aug 5, 2021 at 19:46

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