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3 misconceptions about renouncing US citizenship

In recent years, we have read about many people making public statements that they intend to renounce their U.S. citizenship. They might do so in protest of tax laws or because they oppose U.S. policies. Whatever the reasons, renouncing citizenship is a decision you should not make lightly.

This is especially true if you believe the following common misconceptions:

  1. It’s a simple declaration. You might think all you need to do to renounce citizenship is throw away your passport or move and stop paying taxes. However, the process is much more involved than that. It typically involves filing multiple forms, making appointments for interviews at a U.S. consular or embassy and paying fees.
  2. Being stateless is no big deal. Renouncing your citizenship without possessing a foreign nationality can render you stateless. This concept may not seem that serious, but statelessness means you can be facing severe hardship. You would not have the protection of any government, and you may not have rights to work, purchase property or receive benefits. Thus, having citizenship in another county before renunciation can be vital.
  3. I can always change my mind. Generally speaking, you cannot change your mind after renouncing your citizenship. It is an irrevocable act that you should take very seriously before pursuing.

Decisions based on these misconceptions can have costly and irreversible outcomes for individuals. Thus, correcting them and discussing the legal implications with a lawyer before making any decisions regarding renunciation is crucial.

Other considerations to keep in mind

Even if you do not renounce your citizenship in the U.S., the government can still terminate it. It could do so if you fight for the military of another county against the U.S, commit an act of treason or accept certain employment opportunities in other countries. 

Under these circumstances, you could be relinquishing your citizenship by committing an expatriating act. This process is typically less cumbersome because you would not have to make a formal notification or an appointment at a U.S. consulate.

Making informed decisions

The number of renunciations remains relatively high, particularly for expats living here in Vancouver. As such, people can run into prolonged waiting times, making these processes even longer. You could discuss your options with an experienced immigration law attorney to avoid missteps or unnecessary delays.