A client has a pending application to cancel his U.S. citizenship at the Vancouver Consulate. Today he received the following email from the Consulate:
From: “Vancouver, ACS Department” <email@example.com>
Date: November 8, 2011 7:47:00 AM PST
To: FirstName LastName
Subject: RE: CLN forms – FirstName LastName
There is currently a back-log in respect of Loss of Nationality cases. Cases are responded to by turn. We request your patience.
U.S. Consulate General
American Citizen Services
Vancouver, BC, CANADA
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.
If you want to terminate your U.S. citizenship before the end of the year:
Make an in-person appointment at an Embassy or Consulate.
Do not mail in your application to terminate citizenship. Do it in person.
If I could put twinkle stars surrounded by rainbows to draw your attention to those two sentences, I would. I’m just not that good at HTML.
You can go to any Consulate or Embassy in the world. It is worth buying a cheap ticket to fly somewhere to do this. Make it a vacation — go to Singapore or Bangkok or Frankfurt or somewhere else.
There is no guarantee that you will have your application processed before year-end. When you mail the documents to the Embassy or Consulate you do not know whether they arrived in good shape. By setting an in-person appointment, you will know for a fact that you terminated your citizenship on a particular day.
Even if your documents arrive by mail, and the Consulate acknowledges receipt, you face a second risk. If your documents were mailed and were incomplete, they will be rejected and you will have to start over. If you made a mistake on your paperwork, you can fix it on the spot if you are sitting in front of the Consular official.
I get the feeling that the number of people terminating U.S. citizenship has jumped dramatically. I wonder whether the U.S. government publishes statistics on this. Yes, I know that there are quarterly statistics for people expatriating under Section 877A, but I question whether those are complete and accurate.
Regular people who do not live in my world (international taxation) are flabbergasted when I tell them that U.S. citizens are turning in their passports right and left. It is simply inconceivable that someone would do such a thing. Sometimes the reaction turns to an implicit character assassination of the person relinquishing citizenship: they must be a bad person in some way. Tax dodger. Non-patriot. Someone unwilling to support his country.
It is more interesting to me to watch the outbound flow of intellectual (and financial) capital in a semi-scientific way and formulate a hypothesis. Why are these people choosing to terminate citizenship of the most powerful country in the world? Keep an open mind. Formulate a testable hypothesis. Adjust it when the data indicate the hypothesis fails.
Me? I know what they tell me. Multiple anecdotes don’t create a data set. But I hear them again and again report:
At the moment the number of people leaving might be small, and their actions dismissed in a hand-wavy fashion. But they should not be dismissed. Their actions are an indicator of something gone awry.
The United States has been built on immigration. Out-migration tells us something isn’t working. (Hah. Tell that to the State of California. “Oh, no. Everything is fine!” Same thought.) When people vote with their feet — and are willing to pay a staggering tax to do so — they are sending a message.
I don’t think anyone is listening. And this, unfortunately, is to the greater harm of the United States.