Under the US Constitution, state citizenship is citizenship under one of the states of the US that confers rights protected under the constitution of that state that cannot be taken away. Any person born or naturalized in the US is a citizen of the US and the state in which she resides. Being a citizen of a state gives the citizen certain rights and privileges but also imposes legal obligations particular to that state.
The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose. Becoming the citizen of a state is mainly a matter of a person’s intent to reside there. State citizenship requires that a person has a residence in a particular state and intends to use that residence as her home. Property ownership or mere physical residence in a state does not make a person a citizen of that state.
For instance, a person leaving the State of California for the purpose of a summer job in the State of Utah does not become a citizen of Utah by virtue of residing there for her summer job. However, if she decides this state is where she wants to live, residing there the amount of time specified under Utah law will make her a Utah citizen. The required length of residency necessary to become a state citizen will vary by jurisdiction.
There is no legal status of “dual” state citizenship. In the US, a person who resides in one state may own property in another where she spends time part of the year. However, a person’s residency is where she considers her home to be, the place to which she returns after an absence. Legally, this is where she is “domiciled.” A person can only be domiciled in one place at a time.
State citizenship confers many rights and benefits. Among them are the protections of the state constitution, the right to vote in state elections and run for public office, access to public education and to public benefits like food and housing assistance. State licensure is available to practice a chosen profession within a state.
With state citizenship comes the obligation to obey the laws of the state, which can vary dramatically from those of other states. For instance, a citizen of the State of New Mexico can carry a handgun. A citizen of the State of New York cannot. Civil laws also vary among states. For instance, state tax laws are different in each jurisdiction, as are marriage and family laws.