Americans have the freedom to renounce their citizenship. Renunciation of United States citizenship is in most cases an irrevocable act. It’s also important to remember that renouncing US citizenship is something you need to take into careful consideration. You can also check out our Guide to Tax Implications of Renouncing US Citizenship.
The process is complex – hefty fees, extensive paperwork plus it entails repercussions. Despite all that, federal government data shows that the number of Americans voluntarily renouncing US citizenship has significantly increased over the past years. Once you renounce, there is no going back. Let’s talk about it.
What happens when you renounce your U.S. citizenship?
One of the things you can no longer do is to stay in the US. It’s obvious. This may sound easy, but for the most part, it will be a rough transition, especially for someone who has lived in the US for their whole life. As an example, if you have families left in the US it means you can no longer see them anytime you want.
Another thing you won’t be able to do is vote. This one’s a given and may seem simple, but this also means you won’t be under protection if any uproar happens. Losing medical care services may also happen or may not, depending entirely on the agreement.
Another thing you have to give up is your passport, and this includes the list of countries that no longer require a visa from US citizens.
Guide to renunciation process
First, secure a second nationality. Before you decide to renounce your American citizenship you must make sure you are a citizen of another country. If you are not a citizen of another country, you may technically fall stateless. Thus, indicates that you can’t be protected by any government.
Second, schedule an appointment with the embassy. You need to attend a series of meetings with the US embassy. However, if you’re living abroad you may visit a consulate. After this, make an appointment with the diplomats. You need to set up a meeting with diplomatic officials to ensure that you will be renouncing your citizenship with a sound mind. You will also need to fill out and sign a form that is used to request a renunciation.
Next, you need to fill out a tax return. You will be required to fill up your Final Tax Return covering from 1st of January until the date of renounce. Then, after renouncing you will no longer be required to pay or report income tax, and then you have to pay a renunciation fee. The US government charges a fee for renunciation which ranges from $450 to roughly $2,500.
After this, you have to pay an exit tax. Renouncing your US citizenship does not mean instant freedom. You can’t renounce child support or any financial obligations if there are any. You must also know that it won’t affect other family members. They get to live their American dreams. According to the state, anyone under 16 is not mature enough to renounce their citizenship.
In most cases, you get to keep your social security benefits if you renounce your US citizenship. However, this will partly depend upon which country you are moving to.
Can you reinstate citizenship?
You won’t be able to reinstate your citizenship. To put it in simple terms, there’s no turning back. Renouncing has serious consequences. Aside from the fact of giving up all the benefits of being a US citizen. However, there is a sneaky way to enjoy the US back just in case you have decided to bid goodbye to your citizenship.
How do I regain my U.S. citizenship after renouncing it?
The exemption: A person who has renounced his or her citizenship before they turn 18 can reinstate their citizenship if they notify the Department of State 6 months after they turn 18.
Stated in section 351(b) of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) that an applicant who renounced his/her citizenship before the age of 18 can have his/her citizenship reinstated if he/she makes her desire known to the Department of State.
One way to visit the US is to obtain Canadian citizenship, which is essentially the same as US citizenship. Another one is to become a citizen of a country that is a part of a VWP (Visa Waiver Program). The VWP program enables most residents and citizens of this program to travel and visit the US for 90 days or less without obtaining a prior visa.
There are currently 40 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:
- Czech Republic
- Korea, Republic of
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
The last thing you can do is to obtain a “B1/B2” visa. This visa allows you to visit the US for business purposes or as a tourist. Staying beyond the period of time-stamped may result in major consequences.
The bottom line of all this is again it is a serious step and you must weigh all its advantages and disadvantages. More importantly, seek professional advice to avoid confusion.