March 15, 2012 - Phil Hodgen

Delays for Embassy Appointments to Expatriate

A frequent visitor, commenter, and email buddy (hi, Don) left a comment last night on the “Crowdsourced Expatriation Data” post. The Isaac Brock Society has been collecting information about the numbers of people terminating U.S. citizenship. But anecdotal evidence about waiting time is scarce. The Vancouver Consulate, from reports I have had, is a bit backed up, or at least it was at year-end 2011.

Interesting stuff. He’s a one-man data gatherer. Does anyone else have information like this? Leave comments here if you like. Perhaps one of the Isaac Brock Society contributors will start to collect this data as well — that would seem to be a better place to centralize this extremely useful information.

One take-away for would-be expatriates: do not leave this job until late in the year. There is no guarantee that you will get that appointment before the end of 2012. If you DO want to cancel your citizenship in 2012, either do it at the first possible opportunity or be prepared to call all the Embassies and Consulates in the world and fly anywhere if you’re running close to December 31, 2012.

Here is the comment. Thanks Don.

I had a bit of spare time so I rang some US Embassies around Europe for a straw poll asking how long to wait for a first interview to renounce.

Here are the results:

  • Belgium – 23/3
  • France – 5/4
  • Italy – 2 – 4 weeks
  • Portugal – 2 weeks
  • Russia – 26/3

The reaction is quite interesting when you ring up.  The embassies in France and Italy the line dropped or I was hung up on, only to ring back and be put through. The tone of people’s voices change suddenly when you mention the dreaded “R” word.

If you say you’re the person who wants to renounce, they can become somewhat unhelpful, but if you say that you’re an attorney representing a client, the tone of the conversation becomes matter of fact.

US Embassies often only take phone calls for a few hours during the afternoon for Consular Services such as renunciations.

US Embassies are closed both US and local holidays and one working day a month.

The embassy in France told me their appointment times had suddenly changed 2 days ago from August 2012 to April 2012 while another embassy told me the whole process can take up to a year.

What’s going on?  Have they moved up the first renunciation interviews to “as soon as possible” and then crawl through the process over the next 12 months because it gives the impression the US Government is happy to process renunciations – no sour grapes.

Has State Department told the embassies to tell the public “only a couple of weeks?” for the first interview?

Another embassy reminded me that it will cost me $450.

In general the subject of renunciation continues to be a somewhat touchy subject even among locally employed staff at the embassies.  Obviously there have been emails or discussions that have taken place on renunciations inside the State Department.

Your Phase II will prove more interesting how long the process takes from start to finish and if the only thing that has changed is the first interview date is not only a couple of weeks waiting time.

I agree with Don’s bemusement. A “two weeks to get your appointment” timeline is staggeringly efficient. That’s not been my experience, nor the experience of most of my clients. Something must have happened upstairs at the State Department.