"Citizens" v. "Nationals"
SOURCE:  Great IRS Hoax, section 4.11.5, ver. 4.53

Within federal law, two words are used to describe citizenship: “citizen” and “national”.  There is a world of difference between these two terms and it is extremely important to understand the distinctions before we proceed further.  A “citizen” is someone who was born in and maintains a domicile within a political jurisdiction, who owes allegiance to the “sovereign” within that jurisdiction, and who participates in the functions of government by voting and serving on jury duty. 

citizen.  One who, under the Constitution and laws of the United States, or of a particular state, is a member of the political community, owing allegiance and being entitled to the enjoyment of full civil rights.  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.  U.S. Const., 14th Amend.  See Citizenship.

"Citizens" are members of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have established or submitted themselves to the dominion of a government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as collective rights.  Herriott v. City of Seattle, 81 Wash.2d 48, 500 P.2d 101, 109.

The term may include or apply to children of alien parents from in United States, Von Schwerdtner v. Piper, D.C.Md., 23 F.2d 862, 863; U.S. v. Minoru Yasui, D.C.Or., 48 F.Supp. 40, 54; children of American citizens born outside United States, Haaland v. Attorney General of United States, D.C.Md., 42 F.Supp. 13, 22; Indians, United States v. Hester, C.C.A.Okl., 137 F.2d 145, 147; National Banks, Amierican Surety Co. v. Bank of California, C.C.A.Or., 133 F.2d 160, 162; nonresident who has qualified as administratrix of estate of deceased resident, Hunt v. Noll, C.C.A.Tenn., 112 F.2d 288, 289.  However, neither the United States nor a state is a citizen for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.  Jizemerjian v. Dept of Air Force, 457 F.Supp. 820.  On the other hand, municipalities and other local governments are deemed to be citizens.  Rieser v. District of Columbia, 563 F.2d 462.  A corporation is not a citizen for purposes of privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  D.D.B. Realty Corp. v. Merrill, 232 F.Supp. 629, 637.

Under diversity statute [28 U.S.C. 1332], which mirrors U.S. Const, Article III's diversity clause, a person is a "citizen of a state" if he or she is a citizen of the United States and a domiciliary of a state of the United States.  Gibbons v. Udaras na Gaeltachta, D.C.N.Y., 549 F.Supp. 1094, 1116. “ 
[Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 244]

The key thing to notice is that those who are “citizens” within a political jurisdiction are also subject to all laws within that political jurisdiction.  Note the phrase above:

“’Citizens’ are members of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have…submitted themselves to the dominion of a government [and all its laws] for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as collective rights.” 
[Black’s Law  Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 244]

The only people who are “subject to” federal law, and therefore “citizens” under federal law, are those people who maintain a domicile where the federal government has exclusive legislative jurisdiction, which exists only within the federal zone, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17  of the Constitution and 40 U.S.C. 3111 and 3112.  Within the Internal Revenue Code, people born in the federal zone or living there are described as being "subject to its jurisdiction" rather than "subject to the jurisdiction":

"c) Who is a citizen.

Every person born or naturalized in the [federal] United States and subject to its jurisdiction is a citizen. For other rules governing the acquisition of citizenship, see chapters 1 and 2 of title III of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 14011459). "

[26 C.F.R.  1.1-1(c)]

This area includes the District of Columbia, the territories and possessions of the United States, and the federal areas within states.  If you were born in a state of the Union and are domiciled there, you are not subject to federal jurisdiction unless the land you maintain a domicile on was ceded by the state to the federal government.  Therefore, you are not and cannot be a “citizen” under federal law.  If you aren’t a “citizen”, then you also can’t be claiming your children as “citizens” on IRS returns either!

A “national”, on the other hand, is simply someone who claims allegiance to the political body formed within the geographical boundaries and territory that define a “state”.

8 U.S.C. 1101: Definitions

(a) The term ''national'' means a person owing permanent allegiance to a state.

A “state” is then defined as follows:

StateA people permanently occupying a fixed territory bound together by common-law habits and custom into one body politic exercising, through the medium of an organized government, independent sovereignty and control over all persons and things within its boundaries, capable of making war and peace and of entering into international relations with other communities of the globe.  United States v. Kusche, D.C.Cal., 56 F.Supp. 201 207, 208.  The organization of social life which exercises sovereign power in behalf of the people.  Delany v. Moralitis, C.C.A.Md., 136 F.2d 129, 130.  In its largest sense, a “state” is a body politic or a society of men.  Beagle v. Motor Vehicle Acc. Indemnification Corp., 44 Misc.2d 636, 254 N.Y.S.2d 763, 765.  A body of people occupying a definite territory and politically organized under one government.  State ex re. Maisano v. Mitchell, 155 Conn.  256, 231 A.2d 539, 542.  A territorial unit with a distinct general body of law.  Restatement, Second, Conflicts, 3.  Term may refer either to body politic of a nation (e.g. United States) or to an individual government unit of such nation (e.g. California).


The people of a state, in their collective capacity, considered as the party wronged by a criminal deed; the public; as in the title of a cause, “The State vs. A.B.” 
[Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1407]

So when we claim “allegiance” as a “national”, we are claiming allegiance to a “state”, which is the collection of all people within the geographical boundaries of a political jurisdiction.  Note that as a “national”, we are NOT claiming allegiance to the government or anyone serving us within the government in their official capacity as “public servants”.  As a “national”, we are instead claiming allegiance to the People within the legislative jurisdiction of the geographic region.  This is because in America, the People are the Sovereigns, and not the government who serves them.  All sovereignty and authority emanates from We the People as individuals:

'The words 'people of the United States' and 'citizens,' are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the 'sovereign people,' and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. ..." 
[Boyd v. State of Nebraska, 143 U.S. 135 (1892)]

"From the differences existing between feudal sovereignties and Government founded on compacts, it necessarily follows that their respective prerogatives must differ. Sovereignty is the right to govern; a nation or State-sovereign is the person or persons in whom that resides. In Europe the sovereignty is generally ascribed to the Prince; here it rests with the people; there, the sovereign actually administers the Government; here, never in a single instance; our Governors are the agents of the people, and at most stand in the same relation to their sovereign, in which regents in Europe stand to their sovereigns. Their Princes have personal powers, dignities, and pre-eminences, our rulers have none but official; nor do they partake in the sovereignty otherwise, or in any other capacity, than as private citizens."
[Chisholm, Ex'r. v. Georgia, 2 Dall. (U.S.)  419, 1 L.ed. 454, 457, 471, 472) (1794)]

The supreme Court of the United States described and compared the differences between “citizenship” and “allegiance” very succinctly in the case of Talbot v. Janson, 3 U.S. 133 (1795):

“Yet, it is to be remembered, and that whether in its real origin, or in its artificial state, allegiance, as well as fealty, rests upon lands, and it is due to persons. Not so, with respect to Citizenship, which has arisen from the dissolution of the feudal system and is a substitute for allegiance, corresponding with the new order of things. Allegiance and citizenship, differ, indeed, in almost every characteristic. Citizenship is the effect of compact; allegiance is the offspring of power and necessity. Citizenship is a political tie; allegiance is a territorial tenure. Citizenship is the charter of equality; allegiance is a badge of inferiority. Citizenship is constitutional; allegiance is personal. Citizenship is freedom; allegiance is servitude. Citizenship is communicable; allegiance is repulsive. Citizenship may be relinquished; allegiance is perpetual. With such essential differences, the doctrine of allegiance is inapplicable to a system of citizenship; which it can neither serve to controul, nor to elucidate. And yet, even among the nations, in which the law of allegiance is the most firmly established, the law most pertinaciously enforced, there are striking deviations that demonstrate the invincible power of truth, and the homage, which, under every modification of government, must be paid to the inherent rights of man…..The doctrine is, that allegiance cannot be due to two sovereigns; and taking an oath of allegiance to a new, is the strongest evidence of withdrawing allegiance from a previous, sovereign….” 
Talbot v. Janson, 3 U.S. 133 (1795) ]

A “national” is not subject to the exclusive legislative jurisdiction and general sovereignty of the political body, but indirectly is protected by it and may claim its protection.  For instance, when we travel overseas, we are known in foreign countries as “American Nationals” or:

  1. “nationals of the United States**” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22)(B), if we were born in a federal possession, such as American Samoa or Swain’s Island.
  2. “nationals”, or “state nationals”, or “nationals of the United States*** of America” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(21)  if we were born in and are domiciled in a state of the Union.
  3. “nationals but not citizens” under 8 U.S.C. 1452  if we were born in U.S. possessions such as American Samoa or Swain’s Island.

Here is the definition of a “national of the United States**” that demonstrates this, and note paragraph (a)(22)(B):

TITLE 8 > CHAPTER 12 > SUBCHAPTER I > Sec. 1101.
Sec. 1101. - Definitions

(a) (22) The term ''national of the United States'' means

(A) a citizen of the United States, or

(B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent [but not necessarily exclusive] allegiance to the United States.

Consequently, the only time a “national” can also be described as a “citizen” is when he is domiciled within the territorial jurisdiction of the political body.  Being a “national” is therefore an attribute and a prerequisite of being a “citizen”, and the term can be used to describe “citizens”, as indicated above in paragraph (A).  For instance, 8 U.S.C. 1401  describes the citizenship of those born within or residing within federal jurisdiction, and note that these people are identified as both “citizens” and “nationals”.

TITLE 8 > CHAPTER 12 > SUBCHAPTER III > Part I > Sec. 1401.
Sec. 1401. - Nationals and citizens of United States at birth

The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:

(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;

(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property;

When “citizens” move their domicile outside of the territorial limits of the “state” to which they are a member and cease to participate directly in the political functions of that “state”, however, they become “nationals” but not “citizens” under federal law.  This is confirmed by the definition of “citizen of the United States” found in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment.:

U.S. Constitution: Fourteenth Amendment

Section. 1. 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.

As you will learn later, the Supreme Court said in the case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)  that the term “subject to the jurisdiction” means “subject to the political jurisdiction”, which is very different from “subject to the legislative jurisdiction”.  Note from the above that being a “citizen” has two prerequisites: “born within the [territorial] jurisdiction” and “subject to the [political but not legislative] jurisdiction”.  The other noteworthy point to be made here is that the term "citizen" as used above is not used in the context of federal statutes or federal law, and therefore does not imply one is a "citizen" under federal law.  The Constitution is what grants the authority to the federal government to write federal statutes, but it is not "federal law" or a "federal statute".  The term "citizen", in the context of the Constitution, simply refers to the political community created by that Constitution, which in this case is the federation of united states called the "United States", and not the United States government itself.

When you move your domicile outside the territorial jurisdiction of the political body and do not participate in its political functions as a jurist or a voter, then you are no longer “subject to the [political] jurisdiction”.  Likewise, because you are outside territorial limits of the political body, you are also not subject in any degree to its legislative jurisdiction either:

"Judge Story, in his treatise on the Conflicts of Laws, lays down, as the basis upon which all reasonings on the law of comity must necessarily rest, the following maxims: First 'that every nation possesses an exclusive sovereignty and jurisdiction within its own territory'; secondly, 'that no state or nation can by its laws directly affect or bind property out of its own territory, or bind persons not resident therein, whether they are natural born subjects or others.'  The learned judge then adds: 'From these two maxims or propositions there follows a third, and that is that whatever force and obligation the laws of one country have in another depend solely upon the laws and municipal regulation of the latter; that is to say, upon its own proper jurisdiction and polity, and upon its own express or tacit consent."  Story on Conflict of Laws 23."
[Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. v. Chambers, 73 Ohio St. 16; 76 N.E. 91; 11 L.R.A., N.S., 1012 (1905)]

The word “territory” above needs further illumination.  States of the Union are NOT considered “territories” or “territory” under federal law.  This is confirmed by the Corpus Juris Secundum legal encyclopedia, which says on this subject the following:

Volume 86, Corpus Juris Secundum Legal Encyclopedia
1. Definitions, Nature, and Distinctions

The word 'territory,' when used to designate a political organization has a distinctive, fixed, and legal meaning under the political institutions of the United States, and does not necessarily include all the territorial possessions of the United States, but may include only the portions thereof which are organized and exercise governmental functions under act of congress."

While the term 'territory' is often loosely used, and has even been construed to include municipal subdivisions of a territory, and 'territories of the' United States is sometimes used to refer to the entire domain over which the United States exercises dominion, the word 'territory,' when used to designate a political organization, has a distinctive, fixed, and legal meaning under the political institutions of the United States, and the term 'territory' or 'territories' does not necessarily include only a portion or the portions thereof which are organized and exercise government functions under acts of congress.  The term 'territories' has been defined to be political subdivisions of the outlying dominion of the United States, and in this sense the term 'territory' is not a description of a definite area of land but of a political unit governing and being governed as such.  The question whether a particular subdivision or entity is a territory is not determined by the particular form of government with which it is, more or less temporarily, invested.

‘Territories' or 'territory' as including 'state' or 'states."  While the term 'territories of the' United States may, under certain circumstances, include the states of the Union, as used in the federal Constitution and in ordinary acts of congress "territory" does not include a foreign state.

As used in this title, the term 'territories' generally refers to the political subdivisions created by congress, and not within the boundaries of any of the several states.

[86 C.J.S. (Corpus, Juris, Secundum, Legal Encyclopedia), Territories]

Notice that the above legal encyclopedia definition of “territory” refers to states of the Union as “foreign states”!  A “foreign state” is a state that is not subject to the legislative jurisdiction or laws of the state in question, which in this case is the federal government.  The Supreme Court also agreed with the conclusions within this section so far, in the cite next.  Notice how they use the terms “citizenship” and “nationality” or “national” interchangeably, because as you will learn later in section ‎4.11.13, they are equivalent:

“The term 'dual nationality' needs exact appreciation. It refers to the fact that two States make equal claim to the allegiance of an individual at the same time. Thus, one State may claim his allegiance because of his birth within its territory, and the other because at the time of his birth in foreign territory his parents were its nationals. The laws of the United States purport to clothe persons with American citizenship by virtue of both principles.'

"And after referring to the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S.C.A.Const., and the Act of February 10, 1855, R.S. 1993, 8 U.S.C.A. 6, the instructions continued: [307 U.S. 325, 345]   'It thus becomes important to note how far these differing claims of American nationality are fairly operative with respect to persons living abroad [or in states of the Union, which are ALSO foreign with respect to federal jurisdiction], whether they were born abroad or were born in the United States of alien parents and taken during minority to reside in the territory of States to which the parents owed allegiance. It is logical that, while the child remains or resides in territory of the foreign State [a state of the Union, in this case] claiming him as a national, the United States should respect its claim to allegiance. The important point to observe is that the doctrine of dual allegiance ceases, in American contemplation, to be fully applicable after the child has reached adult years. Thereafter two States may in fact claim him as a national. Those claims are not, however, regarded as of equal merit, because one of the States may then justly assert that his relationship to itself as a national is, by reason of circumstances that have arisen, inconsistent with, and reasonably superior to, any claim of allegiance asserted by any other State. Ordinarily the State in which the individual retains his residence after attaining his majority has the superior claim. The statutory law of the United States affords some guidance but not all that could be desired, because it fails to announce the circumstances when the child who resides abroad within the territory of a State reasonably claiming his allegiance forfeits completely the right to perfect his inchoate right to retain American citizenship."

[Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325; 49 S.Ct. 884, 83 L.Ed 1320 (1939)]

So when a person is domiciled outside the exclusive legislative jurisdiction or “general sovereignty” of a political body and does not participate directly in its political functions, then they are “nationals” but not “citizens” of that political body.  This is the condition of people born in and domiciled within states of the Union in regards to their federal citizenship:

  1. State citizens maintain a domicile that is outside the territorial and exclusive legislative jurisdiction of the federal government.  They are not subject to the police powers of the federal government.
  2. State citizens do not participate directly in the political functions of the federal government
    2.1.  They are not allowed to serve as jurists in federal court, because they don’t reside in a federal area within their state.  They can only serve as jurists in state courts.  Federal district courts routinely violate this limitation by not ensuring that the people who serve on federal courts come from federal areas.  If they observed the law on this matter, they wouldn’t have anyone left to serve on federal petit or grand juries!  Therefore, they illegally use state DMV records to locate jurists and obfuscate the jury summons forms by asking if people are “U.S. citizens” without ever defining what it means!
    2.2.  They do not participate directly in federal elections.  There are no separate federal elections and separate voting days and voting precincts for federal elections.  State citizens only participate in state elections, and elect representatives who go to Washington to “represent” their interests indirectly.

A prominent legal publisher, West Publishing, agrees with the findings in this section.  Here is what they say in their publication entitled Conflicts In A Nutshell, Second Edition:

In the United States, “domicile” and “residence” are the two major competitors for judicial attention, and the words are almost invariably used to describe the relationship that the person has to the state rather than the nation.  We use “citizenship” to describe the national relationship, and we generally eschew “nationality” (heard more frequently among European nations) as a descriptive term.
[Conflicts In A Nutshell, Second Edition, David D. Siegel, West Publishing, 1994, ISBN 0-314-02952, p. 15]

A person who is a "national" with respect to a political jurisdiction and who does not maintain a domicile within the territorial jurisdiction of the political body is treated as a "nonresident alien" within federal law.  He is a "nonresident" because he is not "resident" within the territorial limits.  He is an alien, because he is "alien" to that jurisdiction and not directly associated with it.   

26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(1)(B) Definitions

An individual is a nonresident alien if such individual is  neither a citizen of the United States nor a resident of the  United States (within the meaning of subparagraph (A)).

At the same time, a "national" and a "nonresident alien"  who is NOT an "individual" is not an "alien" under federal law, because a "nonresident alien" is defined as a person who is neither a "citizen nor a resident", and that is exactly what a "national but not citizen" is.  Further confirmation of this conclusion is found in the definition of "resident" in 26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(1)(A), which defines a "resident" as an "alien".  Since the definition of "nonresident alien" above excludes "residents", then it also excludes "aliens".

A picture is worth a thousand words.  We’ll now summarize the results of the preceding analysis to make it crystal clear for visually-minded readers:

Table  4‑10:  Citizenship summary

Citizenship Defined in Domicile in the District of Columbia? Subject to legislative jurisdiction/police powers? Subject to “political jurisdiction”? A “nonresdient alien”?
citizen 8 U.S.C. 1401 Yes Yes Yes


resident”/”alien” 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(3) 26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(1)(A) Yes


No No
“national” 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(21)
8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22)
No No Yes Yes

The table below describes the affect that changes in domicile have on citizenship status in the case of both “foreign nationals” and “domestic nationals”.  A “domestic national” is anyone born anywhere within any one of the 50 states on nonfederal land or who was born in any territory or possession of the United States.  A “foreign national” is someone who was born anywhere outside of these areas.  The jurisdiction mentioned in the right three columns is the “federal zone”.

Table 5‑25: Affect of domicile on citizenship status



Description Domicile WITHIN
the FEDERAL ZONE and located in FEDERAL ZONE
Domicile WITHIN
the FEDERAL ZONE and temporarily located abroad in foreign country
Location of domicile “United States” per
26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(9) and (a)(10) , 7701(a)(39), 7408(d), and 4 U.S.C. 110(d)
“United States” per
26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(9) and (a)(10) , 7701(a)(39), 7408(d), and 4 U.S.C. 110(d)
Without the “United States” per 26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(9) and (a)(10), 7701(a)(39), 7408(d), and 4 U.S.C. 110(d)
Physical location Federal territories, possessions, and the District of Columbia Foreign nations ONLY
(NOT states of the Union)
Foreign nations
states of the Union
Federal possessions

Tax Status

“U.S. Person”

26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(30)

“U.S. Person”

26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(30)

“Nonresident alien”

26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(1)(B)

Tax form(s) to file

IRS Form 1040

IRS Form 1040 plus 2555

IRS Form 1040NR: “alien individuals”, “nonresident alien individuals”

No filing requirement: “nonresident alien NON-individual”

Status if DOMESTIC national

8 U.S.C. 1401

(Not required to file if physically present in the “United States” because no statute requires it)

Citizen abroad
26 U.S.C. 911

(Meets presence test)

“non-citizen National”

8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22)(B)

8 U.S.C. 1408

8 U.S.C. 1452

Status if FOREIGN national

“Resident alien”

26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(1)(A)

“Resident alien abroad”
26 U.S.C. 911

(Meets presence test)

“Nonresident alien individual” if a public officer in the U.S. government. 26 C.F.R. §1.1441-1(c )(3)(ii)
"nonresident alien NON-individual" if NOT a public officer in the U.S. government.


  1. “United States” is defined as federal territory within 26 U.S.C. §§7701(a)(9) and (a)(10), 7701(a)(39), and 7408(d), and 4 U.S.C. §110(d).  It does not include any portion of a Constitutional state of the Union.
  2. The “District of Columbia” is defined as a federal corporation but not a physical place, a “body politic”, or a de jure “government” within the District of Columbia Act of 1871, 16 Stat. 419, 426, Sec. 34.    See:  Corporatization and Privatization of the Government, Form #05.024; http://sedm.org/Forms/FormIndex.htm.
  3. “nationals” of the United States of America who are domiciled outside of federal jurisdiction, either in a state of the Union or a foreign country, are “nationals” but not “citizens” under federal law.  They also qualify as “nonresident aliens” under 26 U.S.C. §7701(b)(1)(B).  See sections 4.11.2 earlier for details.
  4. Temporary domicile in the middle column on the right must meet the requirements of the “Presence test” documented in IRS publications.
  5. “FEDERAL ZONE”=District of Columbia and territories of the United States in the above table
  6. The term “individual” as used on the IRS form 1040 means an “alien” engaged in a “trade or business”.  All “taxpayers” are “aliens” engaged in a “trade or business”.  This is confirmed by 26 C.F.R. §1.1441-1(c)(3), 26 C.F.R. §1.1-1(a)(2)(ii), and 5 U.S.C. §552a(a)(2).  Statutory “U.S. citizens” as defined in 8 U.S.C. §1401 are not “individuals” unless temporarily abroad pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §911 and subject to an income tax treaty with a foreign country.  In that capacity, statutory “U.S. citizens”  interface to the I.R.C. as “aliens” rather than “U.S. citizens” through the tax treaty.

When a federal officer asks you if you are a “citizen”, consider the context!  The only basis for him asking this is federal law, because he isn’t bound by state law.  If you tell him you are a “citizen” or a “U.S. citizen”, then indirectly, you are admitting that you are subject to federal law, because that’s what it means to be a “citizen” under federal law!  Watch out!  Therefore, as people born in and living within a state of the union on land that is not owned by the federal government, we need to be very careful how we describe ourselves on government forms.  Below is what we should say in each of the various contexts to avoid misleading those asking the questions on the forms.  In this context, let’s assume you were born in California and live there.  This guidance also applies to questions that officers of the government might ask you in each of the two contexts as well:

Table  4-11:  Describing your citizenship and status on government forms




# Question on form State officer or form Federal officer or form
1 Are you a “citizen”? Yes.  Of California. No. Not under federal law.
2 Are you a “national”? Yes.  Of California. Yes.  I’m a “national of the United States of America” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(21) but not under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22)
3 Are you a “U.S. citizen” No.  I’m a California “citizen” or simply a “national” No.  I’m a California citizen or simply a “national”.  I am not a federal “citizen” because I don’t reside on federal property.
4 Are you subject to the political jurisdiction of the United States? Yes.  I’m a state voter who influences federal elections indirectly by the representatives I elect. Yes.  I’m a state voter who influences federal elections indirectly by the representatives I elect.
5 Are you subject to the legislative jurisdiction of the United States? No.  I am only subject to the legislative jurisdiction of California but not the “State” of California.  The “State of” California is a branch of the federal government that only has jurisdiction in federal areas within the state. No.  I am only subject to the laws and police powers of California, and not the federal government, because I don’t live on federal territory subject to “its” jurisdiction.
6 Are you a “citizen of the United States” under the Fourteenth Amendment? Yes, but under federal law, I'm a "national".  Being a "citizen" under state law doesn’t make me subject to federal legislative jurisdiction and police powers.  That status qualifies me to vote in any state election, but doesn’t make me subject to federal law. Yes, but under federal law, I'm a "national".  Being a "citizen" under state law doesn’t make me subject to federal legislative jurisdiction and police powers.  That status qualifies me to vote in any state election, but doesn’t make me subject to federal law.

In summary:

  1. A “national” is defined in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(21)  as a person who has allegiance to a “state”.  The existence of that allegiance provides legal evidence that a person has politically associated themselves with a “state” in order to procure its protection.  In return for said allegiance, the “national” is entitled to the protection of the state.  Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874)
  2. The only thing you need in order to obtain a USA passport is “allegiance”.  22 U.S.C. 212.  If the federal government is willing to issue you a passport, then they regard you as a “national”, because the only type of citizenship that carries with it exclusively allegiance is that of a “national”.  8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(21).  See:


  3. In the constitution, “nationals” are called “citizens”. 
  4. A “citizen” in the Constitution does not imply a legal domicile on the territory of the “state” to whom we claim allegiance, but under federal statutory law, both “citizens” and “residents” are persons who have a legal domicile on the territory of the state to which he claims allegiance.
  5. In federal statutory law, all “citizens” are also “nationals” but not all nationals are “citizens”.  For proof, see:

    5.1.  8 U.S.C. 1401 defines a “citizen and national of the United States”.

    5.2.  8 U.S.C. 1452  defines a “non-citizen national”.

  6. Since being a “national” is a prerequisite to being a “citizen”, then “citizens” within a country are a subset of those who are “nationals”.
  7. “subject to the jurisdiction” is found in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.  The Constitution is a political document and the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction” means all of the following:

    7.1.  Being a member of a political group.  Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874)

    “There cannot be a nation without a people. The very idea of a political community, such as a nation is, implies an [88 U.S. 162, 166]  association of persons for the promotion of their general welfare. Each one of the persons associated becomes a member of the nation formed by the association. He owes it allegiance and is entitled to its protection. Allegiance and protection are, in this connection, reciprocal obligations. The one is a compensation for the other; allegiance for protection and protection for allegiance.

    “For convenience it has been found necessary to give a name to this membership. The object is to designate by a title the person and the relation he bears to the nation. For this purpose the words 'subject,' 'inhabitant,' and 'citizen' have been used, and the choice between them is sometimes made to depend upon the form of the government. Citizen is now more commonly employed, however, and as it has been considered better suited to the description of one living under a republican government, it was adopted by nearly all of the States upon their separation from Great Britain, and was afterwards adopted in the Articles of Confederation and in the Constitution of the United States. When used in this sense it is understood as conveying the idea of membership of a nation, and nothing more.” 

    To determine, then, who were citizens of the United States before the adoption of the amendment it is necessary to ascertain what persons originally associated themselves together to form the nation, and what were afterwards admitted to membership.

    [. . .]

    Whoever, then, was one of the people of either of these States when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, became ipso facto a citizen-a member of the nation created by its adoption. He was one of the persons associating together to form the nation, and was, consequently, one of its original citizens. As to this there has never been a doubt. Disputes have arisen as to whether or not certain persons or certain classes of persons were part of the people at the time, but never as to their citizenship if they were.
    [Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874)]

    7.2.  Being subject to the political jurisdiction but not legislative jurisdiction of the state which we are a member of.  U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

    “This section contemplates two sources of citizenship, and two sources only,-birth and naturalization. The persons declared to be citizens are 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.' The evident meaning of these last words is, not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their [plural, not singular, meaning states of the Union] political jurisdiction, and owing them [the state of the Union] direct and immediate allegiance. And the words relate to the time of birth in the one case, as they do [169 U.S. 649, 725]  to the time of naturalization in the other. Persons not thus subject to the jurisdiction of the United States at the time of birth cannot become so afterwards, except by being naturalized, either individually, as by proceedings under the naturalization acts, or collectively, as by the force of a treaty by which foreign territory is acquired.”
    [U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 18 S.Ct. 456, 42 L.Ed. 890 (1898)]

    7.3.  Being able to participate in the political affairs of the state by being able to elect its members as a voter or direct its activities as a jurist. 

  8. “subject to its jurisdiction” is found in federal statutes and regulations and it means all of the following:

    8.1.  Having a legal domicile within the exclusive jurisdiction of a “state”.  Within federal law, this “state” means the “United States” government and includes no part of any state of the Union.

    8.2.  Being subject to the legislative but not political jurisdiction of a “state”.

  9. Political jurisdiction and political rights are the tools we use to directly run and influence the government as voters and jurists.
  10. Legislative jurisdiction, on the other hand,  is how the government controls us using the laws it passes.

Now that we understand the distinctions between “citizens” and “nationals” within federal law, we are ready to tackle the citizenship issue head on.