The Federated States of Micronesia, or FSM, has a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States. People from FSM can travel, study, work, and live in the United States without a visa. If a person from FSM has a child born while they live in the United States, their child will be a U.S. citizen.
Anyone born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen by birthright, regardless of the citizenship of their parent
Before the new law passed, the FSM did not allow individuals born in the U.S. to also be FSM citizens if their parents were Micronesian. To become a FSM citizen, they would have to give up their birthright U.S. citizenship.
Everyone born in the U.S. is a U.S. citizen
The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” Citizens of FSM can become naturalized U.S. citizens, as can citizens of all foreign countries, but they do not gain citizenship from the free association of FSM with the United States.
Who decides about dual citizenship?
Each country has its own laws about citizenship and immigration.
The FSM has control over its own laws on citizenship. It can — and did, until the law changed — refuse to allow its citizens to hold both U.S. and FSM citizenship. Under the new law, the US-born son or daughter of FSM parents can apply for FSM citizenship by applying for a passport. They must provide proof that their parents are or were citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Since citizens of FSM can come and go from the United States freely, a family might have children who were born in the FSM and children who were born in the United States. U.S. citizens are allowed to visit FSM without a visa and to stay indefinitely, but they are required to carry a U.S. passport and a return ticket to the United States. So a family returning to FSM with a U.S.-born child might have to renounce the child’s U.S. citizenship, or live with a child who would be officially a visitor, not a citizen.
Dual citizenship may be a more practical choice for these families.
More than 94,000 COFA citizens — that is, citizens of countries with a Compact of Free Association — live in the United States. About 18,000 citizens of FSM live in Hawaii alone. People born in COFA nations do not qualify for U.S. citizenship by birth. United States citizenship is not part of any compact of free association.
Image courtesy of Asian Development Bank