Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Citizenship’

9th May 2016

In a recently published article on CNN’s official website it was noted that based upon published data from 2015 the number of renunciations of United States Citizenship appears to be rising:

The number of citizens and long-term residents cutting their official ties to Uncle Sam jumped more than 20% last year to 4,279, according to a CNNMoney analysis of the latest government data.

First, let’s take note of a nuanced facet of this issue that the article quoted above does not delve into: Lawful Permanent Residence. The article used figures which showed the number of those renouncing U.S. Citizenship along with those surrendering their green card. These are two very different legal issues. The renunciation of one’s citizenship results in an inability to obtain a United States passport, enjoy all of the legal benefits of U.S. law, and the an inability to obtain various services at United States Embassies and Consulates abroad, to name just a few things. Lawful Permanent Residents of the USA, aka Green Card holders, presumably have an underlying nationality. Many of those who surrender their green card do so in connection with a return to their native country. The motivations behind citizenship renunciation and green card surrender are often very different.

To some, this renunciation trend is rather alarming. For those Americans who have lived abroad for a significant period of time the information above is unlikely to be a surprise. With recent changes to the laws regarding the reporting of financial information pertaining to Americans residing abroad and the fact that American citizens are supposed to pay taxes on their world wide income the recent increase in renunciations of United States Citizenship does not seem as bizarre as it may seem at first glance as the aforementioned article goes on to elucidate:

Many of those severing links are Americans living overseas who are tired of dealing with complicated tax paperwork, a headache that has worsened since new regulations came into effect…Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, no matter where it’s earned or where they live. For Americans living abroad, that results in a mountain of paperwork so complex that they are often forced to seek professional help…

To be clear, renunciation of United States citizenship is a very serious matter. In this blogger’s personal opinion one should not renounce one’s citizenship unless one has taken a significant period of time to seriously contemplate such an endeavor. In many cases, renunciation of US citizenship could result in new unforeseen tax liability. Meanwhile there are those who are under the impression that they must renounce their citizenship when in fact a renunciation is not required.

If one is thinking of giving up their US citizenship simply for reasons related to taxation, then prior consultation with a tax expert would be wise. Those thinking generally about renouncing their United States Citizenship should consult with a legal professional prior to making any irrevocable decisions as renunciation of one’s citizenship could have dire consequences.

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10th August 2013

Millions of people around the world wish to take up residence in the United States of America and often wish to become American Citizens. However, it would appear that some Americans are cutting ties with the USA and renouncing their United States Citizenship. Names of all those Americans who renounce their United States Citizenship are recorded and published in the United States Federal Register. These lists are generally not particularly newsworthy. However, in the most recent quarterly publication regarding US Citizenship renunciation it would appear that the number of Americans renouncing their United States Citizenship has jumped by over 60% when compared to previous quarters. In the last quarter 1,131 people renounced their United States Citizenship. This number is a large increase from the previous quarter which saw only 679 renunciation. Although, when compared against the same quarter of the previous year which saw only 188 renunciations the 1,811 figure is rather staggering. Is this simply a one-time anomaly or is this the sign of a growing trend?

While some are speculating as to what this trend means in a broad socio-economic context, I feel that some analysis is necessary to put some perspective on these numbers. A reader looking at the Federal Register’s official posting regarding these numbers will likely note the following information:

For purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship.

The casual reader may wonder: what does this mean? Well to quote directly from the Cornell Law School’s website which lists sections 877 (e)(1) and 877(e)(2):

(1) In general

Any long-term resident of the United States who ceases to be a lawful permanent resident of the United States (within the meaning of section 7701 (b)(6)) shall be treated for purposes of this section and sections 2107, 2501, and 6039G in the same manner as if such resident were a citizen of the United States who lost United States citizenship on the date of such cessation or commencement.

(2) Long-term resident

For purposes of this subsection, the term “long-term resident” means any individual (other than a citizen of the United States) who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in at least 8 taxable years during the period of 15 taxable years ending with the taxable year during which the event described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) occurs. For purposes of the preceding sentence, an individual shall not be treated as a lawful permanent resident for any taxable year if such individual is treated as a resident of a foreign country for the taxable year under the provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and the foreign country and does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the foreign country.

Therefore, based upon the information provided by the Federal Register and the United States statutes noted above some of those listed in the Federal Register as those renouncing their Citizenship could be United States Lawful Permanent Residents (colloquially referred to as “Green Card” holders) who have chosen to give up their permanent resident status. This explanation probably does not account for all of the “Citizenship renunciations” listed in the recent Federal Register publication, but it may account for some of these numbers. In any event, the number of those expatriating from the United States remains high compared to previous points in American history. The question remains, why are higher numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship?

There are some who contend that the recent spike in citizenship renunciation may stem from American policy regarding taxation of United States Citizens living abroad. American Citizens (as well as lawful permanent residents) are taxed on their worldwide income, regardless of where they physically reside. This situation is in stark contrast to the tax policies of virtually every other country in the world as most countries only tax those of their citizenry who reside in their country. There are exceptions to the previous statement as issues such as domicile play into many countries’ foreign taxation policies. Many feel that the recent increases in the number of renunciations is driven by Americans with high foreign derived incomes seeking to rid themselves of the need to pay American taxes. In a major story from last year it was noted that one of the founders of Facebook had renounced his United States Citizenship before the IPO of that company’s stock. It should be noted that some argue that his tax obligations at that time may not have actually decreased as a result of his decision to give up his citizenship (due to American tax laws such as the so-called “Expatriation Tax” or “Exit Tax”), although his future tax liabilities may be reduced as a result of that decision. Perhaps more Americans are taking the (somewhat drastic) step of renouncing their citizenship in order to save some money from the tax man. Without knowing each former-American’s motivations for renouncing United States Citizenship we are left to speculate.

There may be another impetus behind the recent increase in the number of Americans renouncing their Citizenship: the FATCA. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compels financial institutions outside of the United States to report information about accounts maintained by American Citizens or lawful permanent residents to the Internal Revenue Service. Furthermore, foreign financial institutions are also required to report on accounts maintained by foreign corporations in which Americans or Lawful Permanent Residents own a significant interest. The FATCA’s implementation has been pushed back until July of 2014. Could the looming specter of the FATCA be the reason for the recent uptick in American’s renouncing their citizenship? One of the many upshots of the FATCA is the fact that the regulatory requirements imposed by the American government on foreign banking and financial institutions can be rather burdensome. One way that these foreign institutions can relieve themselves of these burdens is by refusing to accept American customers. If there are no Americans holding accounts at a given foreign bank, then the bank does not necessarily have to comply with the provisions of the FATCA. This has lead to a situation where more and more overseas banks are refusing to provide services to Americans living and working abroad. By renouncing United States Citizenship and naturalizing to the Citizenship of another country a former American could bank in much the same manner as other foreign nationals.

The decision to renounce one’s U.S. Citizenship is a significant one and should not me made lightly. There are many benefits to being an American Citizen so those thinking of renouncing their Citizenship should review not only their tax situation, but also the intangible and tangible benefits of their American citizenship (including the US Passport). Will this trend continue? It remains to be seen, but there are many who feel that as American oversight of global taxation matters becomes more ubiquitous there will be more American’s who question the value of their citizenship.

–Benjamin W. Hart is an American attorney who resides in Bangkok, Thailand.

For related information please see: Citizenship Renunciation.

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6th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been noted by various media outlets for launching a new ad campaign to encourage those present in the United States as lawful permanent residents to naturalize to American Citizenship. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is best to quote directly from the website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

NEW YORK – The US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched its first ever paid ad campaign urging roughly 7.9 million green card holders to become naturalized citizens. The $3.5 million multilingual campaign will be used for three years and is part of an $11 million allotment from Congress meant to promote integration of immigrants. This year’s campaign in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese will run in print, radio and digital formats between May 30 and Sept 5, primarily in states with large immigrant populations, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas. ”You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,” Nathan Stiefel, division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at USCIS, told the Associated Press…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to American immigration it should be noted that those who enter the United States of America on a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa are accorded lawful permanent residence (also colloquially referred to as Green Card status). After spending a specified period of time physically present in the United States it may be possible for an immigrant to naturalize to American citizenship. There are many benefits to be had by undergoing the naturalization process including, but not limited to: the right to vote, the right to a US Passport, as well as the various privileges and/or immunities of citizenship. Those interested in learning if they are eligible for such benefits are encouraged to contact a licensed American attorney.

In somewhat unrelated news, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Japan is apparently preparing to conduct tests on various nuclear facilities in that country. For further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website at ChannelNewsAsia.com:

TOKYO : Japan said Wednesday it will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ongoing crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has ignited debate in Japan about the safety of nuclear power, which before the disaster accounted for a third of its electricity needs. The centre-left government ordered a round of initial tests on the country’s other atomic power plants after the disaster, and said the new stress tests aimed to reassure the public that the facilities are safe…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the ongoing situation in Japan it should be noted that an Earthquake which occurred in March of this year resulted in a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima facility noted above. This situation had tremendous ramifications for both the Asia-Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As this tragic state of affairs continues to play out it is hoped that positive endeavors can mitigate some of the damage caused by this disaster. No doubt the Japanese citizenry remain in the hearts and minds of conscientious people the world over.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

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1st July 2011

During a recent exploration of the World Wide Web it came to this blogger’s attention that there are increasing numbers of websites reporting on issues associated with same sex marriage and the legal ramifications of such unions upon both the accordance of federal benefits and the issuance of United States visas. In a previous posting on this blog it was noted that the sovereign State of New York recently enacted legislation which would legalize same sex marriage in that jurisdiction. However, there are those who would argue that the struggle for LGBT Equality is far from finished. To provide further insight into these unfolding events it may be best to quote directly from the TheNation.com:

[W]hile this is certainly a moment to celebrate, same-sex couples in New York are not out of the woods yet. Because of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) passed by Congress in 1996, the federal government does not honor any same-sex marriages performed in the states. So as thousands of gay and lesbian couples are married in New York over the coming months, the federal government will treat those legally married couples as strangers and deny them more than a thousand federal rights and protections of marriage, including Social Security spousal benefits, fair tax treatment and the right to sponsor a spouse for a visa or citizenship.

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in detail. As noted previously in multiple postings on this web log the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) create a situation in which the federal government precludes recognition of same sex marriage even where one of the sovereign American States has legalized and/or solemnized such a union. This has lead some to note that failure on the part of the federal government to recognize such unions results in something of an abrogation of the notion of Full Faith and Credit as enshrined in the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. That stated, some federal legislators, such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda, have introduced legislation  such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Reuniting Families Act which are designed to mitigate some of the discrimination imposed by application of DOMA. As of the time of this writing, however, none of the aforementioned legislation has been enacted.

Bearing in mind the facts noted above, the reader should note that there have been some other positive developments, albeit relatively minor, in the struggle for full equality. In order to shed further light upon these developments it may be prudent to quote directly from the website LGBTQNation.com:

Another battle which is loosening the Jenga pieces under this bigoted piece of legislation is the fight for immigration rights by bi-national couples. One such case that we’ve covered is that of Henry Valendia and Josh Vandiver, a legally married couple residing in New Jersey. Under DOMA, Valendia, a Venezuelan national, was denied legal residency. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vacated a decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)…[S]ome incredible news came to the Valencia-Vandiver family on Wednesday in the form of a dismissal by Jane H. Minichiello, the chief counsel at the Newark office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and arm of the Homeland Security Department…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this fascinating article.

It is certainly heartening to see that the United States government appears to have dismissed the proceedings related to this same sex bi-national couple. That stated, it is certainly possible that this may remain, at least for the time being, an isolated incident as the provisions of DOMA appear to still be in force. Hopefully, this case is the first in a long line of cases in which the LGBT community sees Full Faith and Credit and Equal Protection under the law of the United States of America.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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5th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has recently updated some of the information with regard to that agency’s official fact sheet pertaining to I-864 affidavits of support. To quote directly from the official website of USCIS:

In determining inadmissibility, USCIS defines “public charge”as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” See “Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” 64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999). In determining whether an alien meets this definition for public charge inadmissibility, a number of factors are considered, including age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor, other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required, will determine whether an individual is a public charge.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to read more and gain insight into the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support.

It should be noted that the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support are significant and should not be overlooked by those seeking immigration benefits. Furthermore, the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support pertain not only to USCIS in the United States, but also impact the Consular processing phase of U.S. Immigration process for those who are seeking United States immigrant visas, such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa, abroad. Meanwhile, seekers of visas such as the K-1 visa (for fiancees of US Citizens) must submit a similar document to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad in the form of an I-134 affidavit of support. Bearing this in mind, the reader should take note of the fact that the issues surrounding the I-864 affidavit of support are likely to come to the forefront for K-1 visa holders when they eventually apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

There was an interesting notation on the aforementioned website:

Note: In general, lawful permanent residents who currently possess a “green card” cannot be denied U.S. citizenship for lawfully receiving any public benefits for which they are eligible.

The reader is encouraged to bear in mind the fact that the above quotation is speaking in generalities, but the issue of naturalization in the context of the affidavit of support may be of interest to Americans thinking about bringing a loved one to the USA. The reason that Americans may find the issue of naturalization interesting when discussing family immigration stems from the fact that upon a foreign spouse’s naturalization to US Citizenship, the encumbrances placed upon the American Citizen within the provisions of the affidavit of support are extinguished as upon becoming a United States Citizen a previous foreign national becomes eligible in their own right for government benefits (where applicable). Therefore, the previous sponsor(s) are no long liable to the United States government should the newly-naturalized citizen take government benefits.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Child Citizenship Act.

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15th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that new In Vitro Fertilization methods could see future children born with 3 parents. Although this may sound like something from science fiction, clearly this is a real issue which could have real world implications. In order to provide a degree of insight to the reader on this topic it may be best to quote directly from Wikipedia:

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of a “test tube baby”, Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Robert G. Edwards, the doctor who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. Before that, there was a transient biochemical pregnancy reported by Australian Foxton School researchers in 1953 and an ectopic pregnancy reported by Steptoe and Edwards in 1976.

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above in order to gain perspective and insight into the way that IVF actually works.  According to recent reports, it would appear that new IVF methodologies may allow for a child to be born with three biological parents.  To quote directly from the official website of the BBC at BBC.co.uk:

Embryos containing DNA from a man and two women have been created by scientists at Newcastle University.

They say their research, published in the journal Nature, has the potential to help mothers with rare genetic disorders have healthy children…The work raised several ethical problems… including safety risks, children with DNA from two mothers, and making genetic changes to unborn children.

IVF and medical procedures of the same ilk may have been considered of little concern in the legal and immigration contexts during years past, but new developments, such as those noted above, could have tremendous implications for future seekers of a US Passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or similar identity documentation acquired both domestically or at US Embassies and US Consulates abroad. For further insight this blogger felt it prudent to quote directly from a blog post by PrideAngelAdmin on PrideAngel.com:

The first baby with three biological parents could be conceived next year after the Government announced a major review of Britain’s fertility laws.

The move would allow doctors to use a revolutionary IVF technique that prevents incurable, deadly genetic illnesses being passed down from mothers to their children.

Babies created with the therapy – called three-parent IVF – would inherit 98 per cent of their DNA from their ‘real’ parents. The rest would come from a female donor.

The scientists say the donor genes would not alter the children’s appearance or personality, but would stop them dying from painful diseases of the heart, liver and brain.

As can be seen from the above cited quotations, most of the dialogue that is occurring with respect to the issue of 3 parent IVF is emanating more from Great Britain than from the United States, but it should be noted that these issues could have an impact upon the way in which possible future American immigration benefits are bequeathed. Meanwhile, new IVF methodologies may require changes in the rules and protocols regarding issuance of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) since there never really seem to have been provisions in place for a child born with three biological parents. It remains to be seen how these new technologies and procedures will impact American jurisprudence regarding United States Immigration, Family Law, and the rules and regulations regarding US Citizenship.

In this blogger’s personal opinion, the implications of possible 3 parent IVF could be as important in an American Citizenship context as the promulgation and enactment of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Who can say if it might not be possible in the future to see a child receive a Certificate of Citizenship based upon a parent-child biological relationship stemming from shared mitochondrial DNA? As humanity’s technological prowess becomes more defined legal issues may be increasingly raised in contexts that few in the past would have dreamed could even exist at all.

For the LGBT community, the citations noted above should be borne in mind especially by those who may wish to start a family in the future as it may one day be possible to see children born as a result of increasingly creative medical breakthroughs.

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12th December 2010

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has created a new website in an effort to combat the unlicensed practice of United States Immigration law. The following is a direct quotation from the new website:

Only a licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist you with your immigration case or green card application. Unlike consultants, immigration lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can check whether an immigration lawyer is in good standing and licensed by contacting your state bar or state Supreme Court. You can also check to see if the immigration lawyer has been suspended or expelled from practice before the immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), or the immigration service (USCIS).

For those who are unaware of the current problem in the United States and abroad, there are those who prey upon unsuspecting individuals claiming to have expertise in American immigration matters. In the State of New York, Attorney General Cuomo, now Governor-Elect, has taken measures to counter this problem. Specifically, the Attorney General’s office has pursued companies which may have engaged in crimes involving immigrants and the unlicensed practice of law. To quote directly from a page on the New York Attorney General’s Office website:

The Attorney General began an investigation and issued subpoenas to these companies after receiving information that they were engaged in fraudulent and illegal business practices. The illegal conduct included, among other things, misrepresenting their authorization to submit documents on behalf of immigrants to the government and giving legal advice to immigrants. Further, some of these companies involved attorneys who aided others in the unauthorized practice of the law and simply lent their name to provide legitimacy to the business. Collectively, these companies abused hundreds of immigrants.

In a previous posting on this web log it was noted that a man in the United States was stripped of his US Citizenship and charged with marriage fraud after an investigation by the United States Customs Enforcement Service (USICE). Clearly, it is evident that authorities in the US States and the Federal government are more serious about enforcing US immigration laws. Hopefully, the creation of the new website noted above, in combination with efforts by law enforcement agencies, will result in leass fraud perpetrated upon the United States government, the American immigrant community, and the public at large.

For related information please see: US visa fraud.

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27th October 2010

It recently came to this author’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has promulgated a new Naturalization Certificate. The new document has enhanced security features and is updated in order to comport with current law. To quote directly from a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced it has begun issuing a redesigned, more secure Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550) as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system. The agency anticipates that over 600,000 new citizens will receive the enhanced certificate over the next year.

It really can seem rather astounding that the United States grants citizenship to so many people each year as there are many countries throughout the world that do not take in immigrants at nearly the rate of the United States. Furthermore, of the countries that admit immigrants it would seem that the United States is more eager to grant citizenship to those who have obeyed the immigration laws and sought naturalization through the proper channels.

The aforementioned press release went on to note some frequently asked questions posed by those interested in the U.S. Naturalization process:

Q1. What is a Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550)?
A1. The Certificate of Naturalization serves as evidence of your citizenship. You receive it after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Citizenship qualifies you to vote and travel with a U.S. passport, among other rights. In many instances, a Certificate of Naturalization is accepted as a valid form of identification.


Q2. Why did USCIS redesign the naturalization certificate?
A2. The previous Certificates of Naturalization featured hard-copy photos of the candidates. The redesigned certificate features the naturalization candidate’s digitized photo and signature embedded into the base document. Eliminating the requirement to affix the hard-copy photo and hand-stamp the USCIS director’s signature cuts cost in man-hours and improves security.


Q3. What’s different about the new certificates?
A3. The naturalization candidate’s digitized photo and signature are embedded in the security-enhanced certificate. Its background features a color-shifting ink pattern that is difficult to recreate. Additionally, USCIS will use a more secure printing process, making it more tamper-proof.


Q4. When will USCIS issue the security-enhanced naturalization certificates?
A4. USCIS will begin using redesigned certificates at all offices beginning today. USCIS offices in Atlanta, Denver and Baltimore will begin to utilize the automated production process this week, including digitizing photos and signatures on all certificates. USCIS will deploy the automated production system agency-wide by the end of the calendar year.


Q5. Following the agency-wide transition to the new document, will all new citizens receive redesigned naturalization certificates with digitized photos?
A5. While all new citizens will receive the redesigned, security-enhanced certificate, certain, limited categories of naturalization candidates, including overseas military and homebound candidates, will receive documents with hard-copy photos affixed to their certificates.


Q6. I’ve already obtained a Certificate of Naturalization. Will I have to apply for the redesigned security-enhanced version?
A6. No. All previously issued Certificates of Naturalization will remain valid.

Q7. How does the issuance of the redesigned naturalization certificate impact applicants?
A7. The issuance of the redesigned Certificate of Naturalization will not impact Application for Naturalization (N-400) processing times. USCIS Application Support Centers (ASCs) will still require applicants to submit their fingerprints and two hard-copy photos. The ASCs will also capture a digital photograph and digital signature for each N-400 applicant.


Q8. If ASCs will capture digital photos of N-400 applicants, why must applicants still provide hard-copy photos?
A8. The hard-copy photos will be required as a back-up in case of unforeseen issues, allowing them to continue their naturalization process without delay.


Q9. Will USCIS update any of its other certificates?
A9. Yes. USCIS intends to digitize its other citizenship-related certificates, but no completion dates have been set.


Q10. Will the wording of the naturalization certificate change?
A10. Yes. USCIS has revised the wording to better reflect the current provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In particular, obsolete language stating that the candidate resides in the United States and “intends to reside in the United States when so required by the Naturalization laws of the United States” has been removed. These changes affect the form of the certificate only and do not alter any legal requirements for naturalization or USCIS application processing.

This author found it interesting to note that the FAQ’s quoted above mentioned that other citizenship documentation may be updated soon. It remains to be seen whether or not the Certificate of Citizenship, which signifies US Citizenship, but for those who are Citizens not by naturalization, but through either some extraneous set of circumstances of by operation of law; will be enhanced to safeguard against fraud. Certificates of Citizenship are likely to be more common in the future particularly since the promulgation of the Child Citizenship Act, but it remains to be seen how the Certificate of Citizenship might be upgraded.

Naturalization to United States Citizenship is a serious undertaking and those interested in becoming United States Citizens should research the process thoroughly in an effort to understand the requirements and ramifications of United States Citizenship. Hopefully, this new Naturalization Certificate will result in increased security in the form of more tamper resistant documentation.

Fore related information please see: USCIS processing time, Child Citizenship Act, or Legal.

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17th August 2010

United States Citizenship is the highest lawful status that one can reach in the USA, from an Immigration perspective. Many people from around the world seek visas, travel documents, and permanent residence in the United States. Of the relative few who obtain lawful status in the United States, even fewer ultimately naturalize to US Citizenship. American Citizenship accords the Citizen with voting rights, work authorization, and virtually unfettered travel rights within the United States of America. That said, there are some situations where an American Citizen seeks to renounce their United States Citizenship. In a recent article from the New York Times it was noted that citizenship renunciation seems to be on the rise. To quote the article directly:

Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.

“What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,” said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. “Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.”

The Federal Register, the government publication that records such decisions, shows that 502 expatriates gave up their U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009. That is a tiny portion of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.

There are a significant number of American expatriates living throughout the world and it should be noted that not all of these individuals wish to renounce their US Citizenship. However the New York Times went on to point out:

Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown.

Anecdotally, frustrations over tax and banking questions, not political considerations, appear to be the main drivers of the surge. Expat advocates say that as it becomes more difficult for Americans to live and work abroad, it will become harder for American companies to compete.

Increasingly, international banks and financial institutions are finding it difficult to deal with some American financial regulations. That said, most American expatriates (or expats) seem to be more frustrated by American tax policy rather than American financial restrictions. The New York Times went on to note:

American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income.

One Swiss-based business executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of sensitive family issues, said she weighed the decision for 10 years. She had lived abroad for years but had pleasant memories of service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Yet the notion of double taxation — and of future tax obligations for her children, who will receive few U.S. services — finally pushed her to renounce, she said.

“I loved my time in the Marines, and the U.S. is still a great country,” she said. “But having lived here 20 years and having to pay and file while seeing other countries’ nationals not having to do that, I just think it’s grossly unfair.”

“It’s taxation without representation,” she added.

Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad.

Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

Even though tax considerations, for both individuals in the present and for those in the future, may be enough for some to renounce their United States Citizenship it would seem that many Americans feel as if renunciation of United States Citizenship is a very drastic measure that should not be taken lightly. Those thinking about giving up their US Citizenship are well advised to seek competent counsel from a US Immigration attorney in order to ascertain all of the relevant ramifications of such a significant decision. Those thinking of renouncing their United States Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) might also find it useful to seek the advice of a competent attorney who can explain the legal issues that arise as a result of giving up American LPR status.

For related information please see: I-407 or naturalization.

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7th June 2010

In previous postings on this blog, we have discussed the naturalization process and the various ways in which individuals can become Citizens of the United States of America. Many believe, erroneously, that once a person is naturalized to US Citizenship, they cannot lose their citizenship. Unfortunately for some, this is not necessarily the case. US law provides for denaturalization under certain circumstances. Generally, denaturalization only occurs in siutuations where the applicant for naturalization was dishonest in their application for US Citizenship. The following is a quote from a recent presss release promulgated by the American Justice Department:

A former member of the Bosnian Serb Army has left the United States to return to Serbia after a federal judge ordered his denaturalization based on concealment during his application for U.S. citizenship that he served in the military during the Bosnian war, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Brian Albritton of the Middle District of Florida and Assistant Secretary John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


Jadranko Gostic, 47 , a former resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., departed the United States on June 1 , 2010. U.S. District Court Judge James Moody in Tampa, Fla., ordered his denaturalization on May 26, 2010. Gostic was indicted in December 2006 on one count of unlawful procurement of citizenship and one count of making false statements. In January 2010, a civil complaint was filed against Gostic alleging illegal procurement of U.S. citizenship and requesting his denaturalization. Court documents allege that Gostic served in the Zvornik Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army from April 1992 until December 1995. According to court documents, international tribunals have found that some units of the Zvornik Brigade engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity , and that they participated in the July 1995 action against the Srebrenica enclave during which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed.


Gostic entered the United States in 1999, received lawful permanent residence status in 2002 and was naturalized in 2004. According to court documents, at each stage of the immigration and naturalization process Gostic concealed his service in the Zvornik Brigade, even when specifically asked about his prior military service.


Gostic agreed to admit to the allegations against him, to be denaturalized, to surrender his lawful permanent resident status and to depart the United States. Gostic fulfilled the requirements of this agreement and departed the United States. As a result of his cooperation, the criminal charges against Gostic will be dismissed.


This case was investigated by the ICE Tampa Special-Agent-in-Charge Office and was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney William Kenety in the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Hansen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.


The Criminal Division announced the formation of HRSP on March 30, 2010, as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to bring human rights violators to justice and deny those violators safe haven in the United States. The new section represents a merger of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section (DSS) and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

As can be gathered from the above press release, Denaturalization proceedings are not taken lightly by the American government nor is it a matter that is taken lightly by the US Courts. That said, in certain situations, denaturalization is warranted if the naturalized American’s actions require the implementation of such a measure. This is one more prime example of why honesty is the best policy when it comes to US Immigration as dishonesty can “unravel” one’s lawful status in the United States, even if that status is US Citizenship.

For related information please see:  US Visa Thailand or Child Citizenship Act.

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