Vancouver and Ottawa are the only consulates we’re aware of where it takes over a year to complete an expatriation. Elsewhere, in Canada and the world, from booking to signing the papers generally runs from under a month to 3 months.
I’ve been getting a lot of complaints about Vancouver’s lack of appointments lately (most people have long written off Ottawa for other reasons). This current uptick in complaints is not surprising. With FATCA now looming closer to reality, these one-year-plus delays to expatriate will trap thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of US persons in Canada without the critical ability to prove that they are not a US citizen.
Vancouver is currently booked through June 2013, and requests for information on how to book result in the reply that no appointments are available. And that’s only to get the first appointment. The second takes over a year after the first.
To deal with the tidal wave of CLN applications, consulates around the world, including most in Canada, are adapting to the increased workload, allocated resources, switched to 1 visit only.
Vancouver and Ottawa, however, persist with requiring 2 visits. Ottawa also routinely requires 2 to 3 hour interviews (that’s face time, not waiting time). They are unique in this, as face time at the other consulates in Canada and the world generally runs 10 to 20 minutes.
While renunciations are going on in record numbers in all countries, Canada also has a huge number of people who relinquished their US citizenship decades ago, who the US now (due to a retroactive policy change) considers to be citizens unless they apply for a CLN. Canada also has border babies, born years ago at the nearest hospital regardless of which side of the border it was. In total, 117,000 US-born persons described themselves as “Canadian citizen only” on the 2006 census. Yet almost no one even heard of a CLN until 2011.
Vancouver and Ottawa are the only consulates I’m aware of that require (or have required) 2 visits to apply for a CLN even when based on a relinquishment (s.(1)). This is not only inefficient, it’s unnecessary as the relinquishment is not going to occur at the consulate — it has already occurred and is being formally reported. It’s puzzling why a consulate official would think otherwise. It’s also rather cruel to a person who terminated their US citizenship, according to US law, 50 years ago – they sure don’t need any time to reflect – they’re not making a forward looking decision – they stuck in a bizarre chaotic limbo and just want to get their normal life back as soon as possible.
The US consulates in Canada should be leading, certainly not lagging, in handling expatriations smoothly and efficiently. They should streamline whatever procedures they can and they should not set up artificial roadblocks. If employees have strong personal feelings against expatriation, they should be reassigned to other duties (I’m sure there’s plenty of other work to do at a consulate). Expatriation should always be handled as a smooth administrative matter, not as a confrontational one with the US appearing desperate to hang onto the person. Handling expatriation incorrectly that way not only messes up a person’s life — it makes the US look terrible.
This is a flood that cannot be held back or the dam will break. Does the US really want to look like they’re desperate to prevent people from leaving? Which headline looks worse “US Citizens Renouncing in Droves” or “US Citizens Prevented from Renouncing in Droves” ?
Delays and roadblocks, even those caused non-intentionally, still cause human suffering. These people just want out – or they’re already long out and just need the proof that is now required by retroactive US policy. Everyone just wants to get on with their life.
Obstruction, for any reason, is a lose-lose situation.
Halifax, Montréal, Toronto and Calgary, all of whom are overloaded with work, are doing an excellent job, both in scheduling and all other aspects of expatriation – and it’s not only a fine job for us, they’re also giving a very positive image of the country they represent. All consulates in Canada should use these consulates as a model.