Once upon a time, before FATCA, before “The FBAR Fundraiser” and before the “Offshore Jihad” people wanted U.S. citizenship. Times have changed. The U.S. government is making the lives of Americans abroad (particularly in Switzerland) very unhappy and very uncomfortable. As a result, renunciations and relinquishments of U.S. citizenship are rising. Many more Americans abroad are simply vanishing from the map – AKA informal relinquishments.
The short answer is I don’t know. This can depend on the person and on the consulate itself. The more important consideration is to be very well prepared and understand your grounds for relinquishment well in advance. In general, I am finding that those who put care into the preparation of their material are much more successful than those who don’t. (Who could have known?)
It is clear that the U.S,. government is NOT predisposed to allow people to sever their ties with the U.S. (I honestly can’t understand why).
In any case, the above tweet references an interesting and illuminating comment at the the Isaac Brock Society:
There is much anxiety and uncertainty about how either applying for or using a U.S. passport will affect a claim of past relinquishment. Both applying for a U.S. passport and the use of a U.S. passport to enter the United States are related to 911. There are two ways this is related to the events of 911.
First: After 911 a passport was required to enter the United States. As you know, the passports of most countries include your place of birth. In general Canadian passports include your place of birth. Those Canadians with a U.S. place of birth, had this place of birth in their Canadian passports.
Second: The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that anybody born in the U.S. is a U.S. citizen. In addition, U.S. immigration law requires U.S. citizens to both enter and leave the U.S. with a U.S. passport.
Therefore, once a U.S. border guard sees a U.S. place of birth in a Canadian passport he/she will have the following thought process:
– this person was born in the U.S. and is therefore a U.S. citizen (we know that is not necessarily true because S. 349(a) of the INA gives the grounds for relinquishing U.S. citizenship); and
– since this person is a U.S. citizen this person is required to travel on a U.S. passport.
The above tweet references the synopsis of a “Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship” presentation that took place in London, Ontario on February 8, 2014.
John first gave an overview of US citizenship laws, tax laws, renunciation and relinquishment and many changes that have taken place over decades.
People have many differing circumstances and each one is unique. Because of the complexities, John stressed:
“The bottom line is you have to check the law at the time the act took place.”
Many people are confused about the difference between renouncing U.S. citizenship and relinquishing U.S. citizenship. To put it simply:
There is ONLY “relinquishment” of U.S. citizenship. “Renouncing U.S. citizenship” is just one way of relinquishing. This is described in S. 349 of the INA.
I refer you to an interesting post at the Isaac Brock Society. For those having trouble understanding the different ways one can “relinquish”, I recommend this post and (more importantly) the comments.
Adam Geller is a New York based national writer for the Associated Press. He is considering an article on the whole issue of Americans abroad and renunciations of U.S. citizenship (or not). Mr. Geller has lived overseas.