Tag Archives: renounce US citizenship

State Department Announces Intention To Reduce Fee To Issue Certificates Of Loss Of Nationality From $2350 To $450

Introduction And General Context

On Friday January 6, 2023 the State Department announced its intention to reduce the administrative fee for issuing CLNs (“Certificates Of Loss Of Nationality”) for US citizenship relinquishments from the current $2350 to $450. Notably in 2015 the State Department increased the fee from $450 to $2350.

The precise language found in the Declaration of Assistant Secretary For Consular Affairs Reena Bitter was:

3. Under 31 U.S.C. 9701, 22 U.S.C. § 4219, and Executive Order 10718, the Department has the authority to establish fees to be charged for official services provided by U.S. embassies and consulates. The Department intends to pursue rulemaking to reduce the fee for processing CLN requests from the current amount of $2350 to the previous fee of $450, as set in 75 FR 36522 on June 28, 2010. The Department will consider any necessary changes to this fee, as appropriate, in a future rulemaking.

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The reduction was announced in conjunction with a lawsuit launched by the Association Of Accidental Americans arguing that the $2350 renunciation fee is unconstitutional. The announcement and general context is described in the article at the American Expat Finance News Journal.

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Those wishing to better understand the lawsuit might be interested in a 2020 podcast I did with the lawyer Marc Zell.

Should you delay your renunciation until the new fee is in effect?

On January 9, 2022 there was a live hearing in Washington, DC exploring issues related to the lawsuit. During the hearing the Judge questioned the State Department lawyer about the plans to reduce the fee from $2350 to $450. It is apparent that:

1. There is no clear date on which the reduced fee will take effect.

2. There is no evidence that those who paid $2350 will be entitled to any kind of refund.

In many countries the waiting list to renounce or relinquish US citizenship continues to be long. Some of those waiting are dangerously close to being “covered expatriates” (based on the net worth test). “Covered expatriates” are generally subject to the 877A expatriation tax rules.

In most cases, those seeking to renounce US citizenship are probably best to avail themselves of the opportunity to renounce regardless of the fee on their renunciation date.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Afroyim v. Rusk – A New Perspective: Do The Specific Rules Of US Citizenship Taxation Result In The Forcible Destruction Of US citizenship?

Prologue

The United States of America is the ONLY country in the world that both:

1. Confers citizenship by birth inside the country; AND

2. Imposes worldwide taxation and regulation based on citizenship.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that:

US citizenship is the world’s only true “taxation-based citizenship”.

Afroyim – Should extending constitutional status to US citizenship be understood as a new gift or exacerbating an old curse?

US Citizenship Stripping Before 1967 – The Significance Of Afroyim

The US government was stripping US citizens of their citizenship if they committed various “expatriating” acts. This was codified in statutes that mandated that certain kinds of conduct would result in the loss of US citizenship. At various times the expatriating conduct included (but was not limited to): naturalizing as a citizen of another country, voting in a foreign election, serving in the armed forces of a foreign country and even marrying a non-citizen.

US Citizenship Stripping After 1967 – Afroyim

The 1967 US Supreme Court decision in Afroyim clarified that Congress lacked the power to strip US citizens (who were born or naturalized in the United States) of their citizenship. The Afroyim ruling clarified that:

1. US citizenship belonged to the citizen and could be lost by the citizen only if the citizen voluntarily relinquished US citizenship by voluntarily committing an expatriating act with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship; and

2. Congress cannot enact laws or engage in practices that result in the forcible destruction of citizenship.

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New Location: John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

What: John Richardson informal information and discussion session for those impacted by US extraterritorial overreach

When: Thursday October 13, 2022 – 19:30 – 21:30

Where: Sutton Arms – Wine Room
6 Carthusian Street, London, EC1M 6EB

Cost: No charge for the session. You may wish to purchase a beverage at the location.

How to get there: There is a map at the bottom of the home page of the Sutton Arms Site:

https://www.sutton-arms.co.uk/

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Those Who Renounced US Citizenship Or Abandoned Green Cards NOT Eligible For Biden Pardon

Synopsis

Introduction

On October 6, 2022 President Biden pardoned certain individuals (prospectively and retrospectively) for the simple possession of marijuana (whatever that means). The full text of the pardon is here.

A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana

Acting pursuant to the grant of authority in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the United States, I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1), on or before the date of this proclamation, regardless of whether they have been charged with or prosecuted for this offense on or before the date of this proclamation; and (2) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1); which pardon shall restore to them full political, civil, and other rights.

My intent by this proclamation is to pardon only the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of Federal law or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1), and not any other offenses related to marijuana or other controlled substances. No language herein shall be construed to pardon any person for any other offense, including possession of other controlled substances, whether committed prior, subsequent, or contemporaneous to the pardoned offense of simple possession of marijuana. This pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense.

Pursuant to this proclamation, the Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall administer and effectuate the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible applicants who have been charged or convicted for the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1). The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, is directed to develop and announce application procedures for certificates of pardon and to begin accepting applications in accordance with such procedures as soon as reasonably practicable. The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall review all properly submitted applications and shall issue certificates of pardon to eligible applicants in due course.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

The Winners

Notably the pardon is available ONLY to those who are “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents”. Clearly a former US citizen who is not a Green Card holder would NOT be eligible.

The Losers

The pardon is NOT AVAILABLE to:

– former US citizens who relinquished their US citizenship

– possibly (depending on interpretation) former lawful permanent residents who abandoned their Green Card

– US Nationals who are NOT US citizens

– non-citizens currently lawfully present in the United Staes under a visa who are NOT current Green Card holders

– current US citizens or lawful permanent residents who were NOT “lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense” (think undocumented aliens)

And to be very clear

Regardless of current status, if one was not legally present in the United States at the time of offense then one is NOT eligible for the pardon. (Think undocumented aliens at the time of the offense.)

Why should the “status” of the person matter when offering this pardon?

An excellent twitter thread from David Bier discusses this issue …

It’s very clear that in 2022 no person should be convicted of a criminal offense for the mere possession of marijuana. The pardon is offered in recognition of that sentiment. Possession of marijuana is simply not conduct which should be deemed to be a criminal offense. Since the conduct should NOT be deemed a criminal offense, why should the pardon be restricted to those who are:

current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents

The ONLY possible explanation is that ONLY “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents” are deserving of fair treatment. Who cares about the rest of them?

Let’s put it this way:

Assuming possession of marijuana should not be a crime, it’s still okay to punish those who are NOT “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents”.

The pardon should apply prospectively and retrospectively to ANY individual who violates this unreasonable law. Why condition the pardon on status?

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Buying Their Freedom: Toward A More Efficient Process Of US Citizenship Renunciation

Buying Their Freedom – A More Efficient Renunciation Process – The “Readers Digest” Version Of This Post …

The effects of US citizenship taxation enforced by FATCA are causing great distress to the US citizens who reside in and are tax residents of other countries. They are being constructively forced to renounce US citizenship because of (1) the out of pocket costs of US tax compliance (2) the possibility of double taxation (3) the US taxation of things that are not taxable in their country of residence (4) the “opportunity cost” of their inability to engage in financial and retirement planning and in some cases (5) the threat or reality of bank/financial account closures. In addition, these circumstances are unfair to their countries of residence who are forced to deal with a group of people who are more likely to require “social assistance” in their retirement years. US citizenship is a problem for US citizens who attempt to live outside the United States and for the countries where they live.

Although many people are constructively forced to renounce US citizenship, the US has made renunciation very difficult from both a cost and availability perspective.

The purpose of this post is to suggest that the process of renouncing US citizenship should be facilitated in the US citizen’s country of residence by that government. Renunciation could be achieved more quickly, at lower cost and (under my proposal) partially subsidized by the government of residence (which would justify this as “buying back their citizens” from any US claim of taxation or other regulatory burdens). I believe that this proposal would benefit the individual US citizen, the US citizen’s country of residence and the United States itself. The following post describes how this can be achieved under the existing US laws.

As President Obama once said:

“The circumstances of one’s birth should not determine the outcome of one’s life.”

This post is composed of the following parts:

Part A – Introduction
Part B – The US Government And The Oppression OF Americans Abroad
Part C – The Legal Framework Of Renunciation
Part D – The Logistics – How The New Renunciation Process Would Work
Part E – Reviewing The Benefits Of The New Renunciation Process
Part F – The Revised Renunciation Fee
Part G – Democratizing Renunciation – Making It Available To All – A Financing Proposal
Part H – Sadly this could all be be prevented if the United States were to end citizenship taxation and adopt the world standard of residence taxation. But, …
Part I – Conclusion – “All Roads Lead To Renunciation”

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The Weaponization Of Citizenship: From “You Are NOT American” to “You ARE American”

Recommended Reading For Americans Abroad

I recently came across the book “You Are NOT American” by Professor Amanda Frost. I read very few books from beginning to end. This particular book I read twice. The subtitle of the book is “Citizenship Stripping From Dred Scott To The Dreamers“. Ms. Frost documents the struggles of those unlikely people who were conscripted into the an internal struggle – invisible to all except those affected – in the United States. I think of this struggle as the “weaponization of citizenship”. Historically this struggle has resulted from the attempts of the United States to reconcile its ugly history of slavery with its beautiful aspirations of freedom. The book is well researched and Ms. Frost was able to tell the stories of the principal “warriors”, bringing them to life in a way that humanized them. Although each person/warrior was the public face of a legal issue (many of their cases were heard by the Supreme Court Of The United States) we learn and understand the facts and circumstances that brought them to the court. While reading the book, I could feel the pain, the frustration and the injustice. We learn how the laws of the day impacted the people of the day. This knowledge comes from Ms. Frost digging into the archives and finding many original sources. The footnotes constitute a “treasure trove” of information akin to reading old newspapers. The book tells the story of “citizenship stripping” as a commentary on American history, culture and values in a broader sense.
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Considering renouncing US citizenship? Interesting discussion with Buffalo lawyer @JoeGrasmick

In 2018 I had a discussion with Buffalo Immigration Lawyer Joe Grasmick about a number of issues including renouncing US citizenship. The discussion was videoed as part of my “Retain Or Renounce” series. It was a very interesting and balanced discussion. (We also discussed some of the dos and don’ts of Green Card abandonment.)

I wanted to share Joe’s LinkedIn post today (December 31, 2021). His post reinforces the reality that (although Americans abroad are clearly suffering from the tax and regulatory regime) US citizenship does have value.

I completely agree with Joe that the consequences of renouncing US citizenship (notwithstanding the problems) should be fully understood and appreciated.

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Reflections Of An Expatriation Lawyer: From The Solemn Occasion of 1988 To The Non-event of 2021

Guest Post by UK based New York lawyer Diane Gelon

Diane is a London, UK based New York lawyer who specializes in issues affecting Americans abroad including renunciation. What follows are her thoughts on how the renunciation process has evolved since 1988. The message is that in 1988 the renunciation of US citizenship was a serious and solemn event that was taken very seriously by the US government (it was also free of charge). By 2021 it had become a routine matter, of little concern to the US government (and cost $2350). This is one more reason why the State Department should process renunciations of US citizenship through video conferencing!

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Over to Diane …

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The State Department Should Allow For US Citizenship Renunciations To Take Place By Video

This post has been co-authored by Diane Gelon* (see “Reflections Of An Expatriation Lawyer“) and John Richardson

Prologue

In September of 2021 the Paris based “Accidental Americans Association” filed a lawsuit against the US State Department. The lawsuit was brought in an attempt to force the State Department to allow individuals to renounce their US citizenship. (A prior lawsuit by the “Accidental Americans Association” was based on the excessive $2350 renunciation fee.)

The lawsuit is evidence of the extreme frustration that many Americans abroad are experiencing because they (1) are unable to renounce US citizenship and (2) justifiably feel that they are prisoners of the circumstances of their birth.

It was recently announced that “The US Department of State (DOS) is suspending in-person interview requirements at local consulates for a year for numerous non-immigrant work visa categories and their families (spouse and dependent children“. In London the US Embassy is conducting telephone meetings to deal with Social Security issues. (Prior to Covid this would have required an in person meeting at the Embassy.) The State Department is clearly reducing the number and kinds of services that require “in person” Consulate visits.

The purpose of this post is to argue that renunciations of US Citizenship need not take place through in person interviews at a US Embassy or Consulate. Rather renunciations of US citizenship can and should take place through video conferencing. The backlog in processing renunciations is explained as being related to the Covid-19 pandemic. A response to the pandemic has been that more and more legal proceedings are taking place through video conferencing. Both Canada and the UK (and certainly other countries) are conducing citizenship ceremonies by video, entire court cases are held via video conferencing, and documents can be witnessed and certified by video. We have discussed various aspects of this issue with each other over a long period of time as well as benefiting from discussions with Dubai based lawyer Virginia La Torre Jeker and Esquire Founder Jimmy Sexton.

There is no law that requires that renunciations of US citizenship take place inside a US Consulate or Embassy!

This post is composed of the following seven parts leading to the following conclusion:

Americans abroad and their representatives should pressure the State Department to use their statutory authority to allow renunciations by video conferencing. The State Department has the statutory authority to do so. The fact that the State Department does not currently allow renunciations through video conferencing doesn’t mean that it cannot allow renunciations through video conferencing!

Part I – Introduction: Why Americans Abroad Are Renouncing US Citizenship
Part II – An appointment to renounce US citizenship is hard to find
Part III – Why there is NO legal requirement that renunciation appointments must take place inside a US Embassy or Consulate
Part IV – The State Department website does not specifically state that renunciations must take place inside the US Consulate or Embassy
Part V – Americans abroad and their organizations must push the Biden administration to allow renunciations of US Citizenship through video conferencing
Part VI – Interesting Bobby Fisher anecdote supporting the view that renunciations are not required to take place inside US Consulates
Part VII – Diane Gelon and John Richardson update their November 29, 2020 podcast with a December 29, 2021 podcast

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