“I have had a green card for 10 years, and I’m thinking strongly about becoming a U.S. citizen. Though I have no plans to leave the U.S. now, I might consider returning to Ireland down the line. Would my U.S. citizenship negatively impact a move back to Ireland? And doesn’t the U.S. look down dual citizens – at least that’s what I heard.”You should definitely get started on the naturalization process for any number of reasons.

Being a U.S. citizen will not impact a return to Ireland at all down the line, if that’s what you choose to do. Ireland recognizes the concept of dual nationality, and even though a citizen might swear allegiance to another country Irish citizenship is not impacted or lessened in any way.

The U.S. doesn’t really “look down” on dual nationals – but dual citizenship is also not encouraged. Immigration-related laws recognize that many U.S. citizens have claims to dual nationality – for instance, those born here who have a parent native to Ireland are automatically considered to be Irish citizens, according to Irish law.

“U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another nationality does not risk losing U.S. nationality,” says the State Department’s website.

“A person who acquires a foreign nationality by applying for it may lose U.S. nationality. In order to lose U.S. nationality, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. nationality.”

(We’re veering off this week’s question here, but just to clarify – the word “intention” is key. U.S. citizens have to formally renounce U.S. citizenship in order to lose it. Applying for a foreign citizenship in and of itself does not amount to that.)

Once you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you’ll have a host of new rights, including the ability to travel outside the country for as long as you want.

Through the years, this column has received several letters from green card holders like you who returned to Ireland, had a hard time settling and wanted to come back to the U.S.

With a lengthy lapse in permanent resident status that’s pretty much impossible. But U.S. citizens have the luxury picking up their lives here at any time.

The naturalization process is straightforward and takes a few months from start to finish, depending on an applicant’s place of residence. Visit www.uscis.gov for paperwork and directions.