Denaturalization (the revocation of citizenship), occurs when a state depriving citizenship involuntarily. This process is the reverse of naturalization.

The most common grounds for denaturalization

  • Military service with dishonorable discharge occurring within 5 years.
  •  Affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years of naturalization
  • Fraud, concealment or false information.
  • Spending long periods of residence abroad.
  • Security threat
  • Espionage, War crimes etc..

In countries that enforce single citizenship (dual nationality prohibited), voluntary naturalization in another country will lead to an automatic loss of the original citizenship


The history of denaturalization or citizenship stripping goes back to centuries. During World War I, many European states began to introduce laws which permitted their own citizens to be denaturalized and denationalized.

  • France: The 1915 French denaturalization law applied only to naturalized citizens with “enemy origins” who had kept their original nationality.
  • Belgium:  In 1922, Belgium enacted a law revoking the naturalization of people accused of having committed “antinational acts” during the war; this was supplemented in 1934 by a new decree against people “in dereliction of their duties as Belgian citizens.”
  • Italy after 1926 in Italy, people who were deemed not to deserve the Italian citizenship or who were considered to represent a threat to the public order could lose their naturalization.
  • Egypt in 1926 enacted denaturalization threatening public order
  • Turkey in 1928 also enacted laws authorizing denaturalization of any person threatening the public order.
  • Austria passed a similar law in 1933 by which it could denaturalize any citizen who participated in a hostile action against the state.
  • Russia also passed several similar decrees after 1921
  • Canada: Before 1977 there grounds for  for revoking citizenship were: Naturalization in another country, Long residence overseas (before 1967) and Loss based on parent’s loss of Canadian citizenship

United Kingdom

Section 4 of the British Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 gives power to the Home Secretary to ‘deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person has done anything seriously prejudicial to the vital interests’ of the United Kingdom exception to rendering stateless.

Since 2006, the United Kingdom home secretary has revoked the citizenship of at least 373 Britons, of whom at least 53 have had alleged links to terrorism.

United States

During the early 19th century, The US proposed Titles of Nobility amendment of 1810 (never ratified) would revoke the American citizenship of anyone who would “accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility” or who would receive any gifts or honors from a foreign power.

The Naturalization Act of 1906 was the first law in U.S. history that provided for denaturalization. denaturalization under the 1906 Act included fraud, racial ineligibility and lack of “good moral character.” In 1907, Congress expanded the laws on loss of citizenship by marking for expatriation all U.S.-born citizens who had naturalized in foreign nations and women who had married foreigners.

In 2020, The Department of Justice created a Denaturalization Unit to Investigate and Litigate the Denaturalization of Terrorists, War Criminals, Sex Offenders, and Other Fraudsters, who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.

Between 1990 and 2017, the DOJ filed a total of 305 denaturalization cases, an average of 11 per year. Since January 2017, USCIS has identified approximately 2,500 cases to be examined for possible denaturalization

Citizenship by Investment

All CBI programs have relevant legislation to immediately denaturalize investors for the following reasons

  • Fraud, concealment of information
  • Imprisoned abroad for more than 12 months
  • Military service against interest of state
  • Security threat, corruption, criminality
  • Disrepute to the state.
  • Sanctions list
  • Not maintaining investment for required time.
  • Securities fraud
  • Wanted person of interest from international law enforcement
  • Espionage, treason, disloyalty etc.

In the past, these CIP nations already pursued denaturalization of investors who illegally acquired citizenship through investments. Once citizenship is revoked for main applicant, subsequently for all family members.

  • Cyprus – 26
  • Malta – 1
  • Bulgaria – 10
  • St Lucia – 6
  • Vanuatu – 30
  • Antigua –
  • St Kitts – 2
  • Grenada – 1

Loss of citizenship leads to revocation of passports issued to all family members, which could lead to extradition.

It gets easier to strip citizenship if there are no ties or genuine link maintained with the country.