I was a Sri Lankan citizen who acquired US citizenship via naturalization about a year ago. This automatically voided my Sri Lankan citizenship. However, I got to know that I can apply to resume my Sri Lankan citizenship which would give me dual citizenship.

However this page on the department of State website says "obtaining naturalization in a foreign state after the age of 18 (Sec. 349 (a) (1) INA)". as a "Potentially Expatriating Act". It also says " if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality"

I am definitely not doing this with an intention to relinquish my U.S. nationality, but I am not sure what exactly constitutes 'intention'.

While I understand this is not an actual legal forum, I just want to get a pulse on what people's experience has been in similar situations. I definitely plan to reach out to a lawyer to confirm before I proceed, but thought this might be a good thing to discuss in a public forum for the sake of general knowledge also.

2 Answers 2


"Intention to relinquish" means you actually meant to stop being a US citizen. In practice, the US assumes that normal people doing normal things don't want that. As described on the page you linked, there's an "administrative presumption" that you don't mean to give up US citizenship when you: become a citizen of another country, declare your allegiance to another country, join the military of a country that isn't at war with the US, or take a non-policy-level job with a foreign government. That means the State Department will assume you wanted to keep your citizenship unless you "affirmatively, explicitly, and unequivocally" say that you did not.

In practice, if the issue comes up then the State Department will just ask you what your intention was and take you at your word. Unless you actually go to a US embassy or consulate and fill out a form saying "I do not want to be a US citizen any more," you don't really have to worry about it.


As cpast's answer mentioned, the Department of State has an administrative presumption that you don't intend to relinquish citizenship, in the case of several (but not all) of the potentially expatriating acts.

Furthermore, the statute (INA 349, codified as 8 USC 1481), in subsection (b), provides that claims of loss of US nationality need to be established by the party claiming loss of nationality to the standard of "a preponderance of the evidence". This standard applies to all the potentially expatriating acts (including those included and not included in the Department of State's administrative presumption, and would apply even if the Department of State eliminated their administrative presumption).

(b) Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this chapter or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.

Here, the potentially expatriating act is presumed to have been committed voluntarily, but the intent to relinquish nationality is not presumed and must still be separately proven by the party claiming loss of nationality by "a preponderance of the evidence", as the US Supreme Court explained in Vance v. Terrazas (1980):

  1. In establishing loss of citizenship, the Government must prove an intent to surrender United States citizenship, not just the voluntary commission of an expatriating act such as swearing allegiance to a foreign nation. Congress does not have any general power to take away an American citizen's citizenship without his "assent," which means an intent to relinquish citizenship, whether the intent is expressed in words or is found as a fair inference from his conduct. The expatriating acts specified in § 349(a) cannot be treated as conclusive evidence of the indispensable voluntary assent of the citizen. The trier of fact must, in the end, conclude that the citizen not only voluntarily committed the expatriating act prescribed in the statute, but also intended to relinquish his citizenship.


  1. Nor is the presumption of voluntariness provided in § 349(c) constitutionally infirm. While the statute provides that any of the statutory expatriating acts, if proved, is presumed to have been committed voluntarily, it does not also direct a presumption that the act has been performed with the intent to relinquish United States citizenship, which matter remains the burden of the party claiming expatriation to prove by a preponderance of the evidence. [...]

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