The executive order US president Donald Trump signed yesterday temporarily banning entry to the US for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries also applies to those who hold two nationalities, the State Department confirmed today. That means that a citizen of both Iraq and the UK, for example, could not avert the ban by traveling to the US on her British passport.
“Travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of one of these countries will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa,” the State department said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). “Those nationals or dual nationals holding valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visas will not be permitted to enter the United States during this period.”
The ban will not, however, apply to most US citizens—even those who also hold citizenship in one of the singled-out nations. A spokeswoman for the state department told Quartz that US dual nationals must be traveling on their US documents (as already required) to avert the ban.
Among other measures, the order prohibits the entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the US for 90 days, which has already complicated entry for some travelers who have been turned away by airlines or detained by authorities trying to enter the US.
Citizenship and nationality are assigned according to a variety of criteria around the world. These include: birth-parents, birth location, marriage, naturalization, and other factors. Iran’s nationality rules, for instance, consider anyone born to an Iranian father an Iranian citizen, often irrespective of other salient facts.
That’s why people of Persian heritage may find it difficult to prove to US authorities that they are not Iranian nationals. Even someone who has never set foot in Iran or applied for an Iranian passport could be considered a citizen—and thus, presumably, denied entry by the US.
The State Department could not immediately explain what criteria will be used to determine a person’s additional citizenship for the purposes of entering the US under this order. Typically the US government uses the laws of the foreign country to determine whether a person is a citizen of it.