Recently I ran across a story from July 2012 about two Republic of Korea Army officer candidate school graduates who gave up U.S. green cards to receive their commissions; the hometown paper ran a brief human interest story about them, which I translated below. In contrast to the Homeland image of immigrants-turned-emigrants as either “ungrateful tax cheats” or “failures who self-deport”, they’re just ordinary young men who made their own choices about where they wanted to live as adults, choices which happened to differ from those of their parents.
Both men were in their mid-twenties and almost certainly qualified as “former long-term permanent residents” for U.S. emigration control purposes, but neither had their names published in the Federal Register as required by law. We’ve previously discussed several cases of South Koreans who gave up U.S. green cards to serve in the army, but this is the first case I’ve come across after the Federal Register list began claiming (in Q1 2012) that it includes green card holders.
Of course, we already know that nearly two thousand South Koreans gave up U.S. citizenship or green cards last year and that the vast majority did not appear in the Federal Register, but it’s good to have some concrete names to demonstrate this phenomenon. As far as I can tell, the problem may be that USCIS still doesn’t provide the IRS with enough information to distinguish “long-term former permanent residents” (nearly a decade-and-a-half after GAO first complained about the issue).
미국 영주권 포기 후 장교 임관 화제
Gave up U.S. permanent residence, commissioned as officers
|충남일보 윤재옥 기자, 2012-07-01||Chungnam Ilbo reporter Yoon Jae-ok, 1 July 2012|
|영주권을 포기하고 장교로 임관한 주인공이 있어 화제가 되고 있다. 화제의 주인공은 오승균 소위(26ㆍ학사)와 이희경 소위(25ㆍ학사).||Two men who gave up permanent residence and were commissioned as officers have become a hot topic of discussion. The heroes of the story are Second Lieutenants Oh Seung-kyun (26) and Lee Hui-kyung (25).|
|오승균 소위는 지난 해 미국에 있는 오클라호마 주립대를 졸업했다. 오 후보생이 지원하게 동기는 아버지의 권유가 컸다. 오 후보생의 아버지는 장교로 복무하고 싶었지만 당시 허리디스크가 심해 군 면제를 받았는데, 아버지는 하나밖에 없는 아들이 대한민국 장교가 되기를 진심으로 바랬고, 이에 망설임 없이 지원했다.||Lt. Oh graduated from the U.S.’ Oklahoma State University last year. Oh’s biggest motivation for volunteering was the advice of his father. His father had also wanted to serve as an officer, but back then he had a severely herniated disk in his back and so was exempted from military service. He’s very proud that his only son chose to become an officer of the Republic of Korea Army and showed no hesitation in volunteering.|
|이희경 소위는 지난해 미국에 있는 조지아 대학을 졸업했고, 이 후보생의 지원 동기는 자신이 앞으로 대한민국에서 살아가는데 군 복무는 꼭 해야한다는 생각과 이왕 군 생활을 하려면 장교로 임관을 하라는 형의 조언으로 학사장교를 지원하게 됐다.||Lt. Lee graduated from the U.S.’ University of Georgia, and his motivation for volunteering was that he planned to live in the Republic of Korea in the future and knew that he would have to do military service anyway, and so on the advice of his older brother, who had previously experienced army life and served as an officer, he volunteered for the university graduate officer program.|
|한편 오승균 소위는 임관식에서 “아버지는 늘 대한민국을 자랑스러워 하셨고, 그런 아버님을 보면서 자연스럽게 조국을 사랑하게 됐다.”면서 “지금까지 배운 지식과 경험을 바탕으로 야전의 요구에 부응하는 장교, 육군에 필요한 인재가 되도록 노력하겠다.”고 각오를 밝혔다. 또한 이희경 소위는 “앞으로 소대장으로서 역할을 위해 최선을 다할 것이며, 군 생활을 하는 동안 리더십을 배우고 인연을 넓혀 나가는 소중한 계기로 삼을 것”이라고 임관 소감을 밝혔다.||At the commissioning ceremony, Lt. Oh expressed his determination, stating that “My father always felt pride in the Republic of Korea, and looking at him I naturally came to love my ancestral country” and that “All the knowledge & experience I’ve gained up until now will be the foundation for me to meet the requirements of being an officer, and I’ll work hard to become the kind of outstanding person that the army needs.” Lt. Lee also revealed his emotions about becoming an officer, stating that “I’ll give it my all so that I can live up to my role in the future as a platoon leader, and while I’m living life in the army I’ll learn leadership skills and take the opportunity to broaden my network.”|
It’s rather difficult for a Korean man who hasn’t yet completed his military service to be granted exit permission for emigration at age 17 or older. So Oh and Lee almost certainly were not the primary applicants for green cards (for example, as siblings of U.S. citizens). Rather, it’s likely that a parent was the primary green card applicant, and that Oh and Lee were granted their green cards as dependents — definitely when they were under 21 (due to the requirements of U.S. immigration law), and likely when they were under sixteen. So both of them should have held those green cards for at least eight out of the last fifteen years, the standard for them to be subject to U.S. exit tax filing under 26 USC § 877(e)(2).
Officer candidates in the South Korean army are only required to give up their foreign citizenship or permanent residence before being commissioned; coincidentally, two ex-U.S. citizens who were commissioned at the same time as Oh and Lee did appear in the Federal Register in the Q2 2012 list. I’m not sure of the exact English spelling of Lee & Oh’s names; the surname I transliterated here as “Lee” might also be spelled “Yi” or “Rhee”, but “Oh” is pretty much always spelled “Oh”. (A few poor folks insist on spelling it “correctly” with the single letter “O”, but most of them give up due to all the trouble it causes them.) Regardless, no one in the list by any of those surnames had a given name close to either Oh’s or Lee’s.
The Federal Register list began claiming last year that “[f]or 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 IRS has all along interpreted the law to require publication of the names of green card holders, but it seems they had trouble getting accurate information about them. We know that in 2000, the Government Accountability Office complained that:
INS provides annually to IRS a computer disc identifying individuals who gave up their residency permits (green cards). However, IRS does not use the data to track expatriates because the data do not distinguish former long-term residents from other former green card holders and generally do not include tax identification numbers.
Yet the most recent version of I-407 that I can find online, from March 2006, still did not ask people abandoning their green cards for any information that would be useful to the IRS, such as a Social Security Number or the date of issue of the original immigrant visa.
We know that U.S. citizens sometimes appear in the Federal Register list without having filed Form 8854, but perhaps green card holders only appear if they do file Form 8854; apparently, thirteen years later, the information that USCIS provides to the IRS is still useless, and besides Form 8854 there’s still no other way by which ex-green card holders can become persons “with respect to whom the Secretary receives information under the preceding sentence” and whose names are thus required to be published under 26 USC § 6039G(d). Of course, given that the IRS seems to think that half of the nearly twenty thousand annual green card abandoners meet the “long term criteria”, their Form 8854 filing rate must be rather low, otherwise the last Federal Register list would have had far more than 1,130 names in it.
If Lee & Oh even filed Form 8854, it was a waste of time both for them and for the IRS, like it was for perhaps ten thousand other long-term green card holders who give up their U.S. immigration status every year. Their parents contributed to the US economy and paid taxes there, and in return their kids learned English and got a university education: the same deal on offer in any number of Anglophone countries. So it’s quite interesting that the imposition of exit tax paperwork on green card holders passed almost entirely unnoticed in the two-minute hate against ex-U.S. citizens like Kenneth Dart & Myron Wentz which gave us Form 8854 in the first place.
And finally, it’s interesting to note the level of coverage. A decade ago, news about South Koreans giving up green cards to serve in the army provoked long articles in national newspapers; these days, even regional dailies can barely be bothered to devote a few paragraphs to such a routine occurrence, unless the people in question are celebrities.
Is there a fast way to get a confirmation of I-407 status?
I sent in a G639 by internet do they said a confirmation e-mail?
How long does it take?
‘In contrast to the Homeland image of immigrants-turned-emigrants as either “ungrateful tax cheats” or “failures who self-deport”, they’re just ordinary young men who made their own choices’
I’m a dual citizen, originally from Canada, who has lived in the US for many years and am now a dual USA-Canadian citizens.
Interestingly, I used to get the ‘failures who self-deport’ ‘tude not from Americans–but from Canadians any time when I would take steps to return to Canada. Whenever I would look for a job back in Canada–or even try to network with Canadians professionally with a view to eventually laying the groundwork to move back–there was an unmistakable undercurrent that I got from Canadians in Canada that there “must be something wrong” and I must be “failing” in the US if I wanted to move back to Canada. Of course no one said so directly–which made it a hard attitude to fight–but the general attitude was definitely there.
I originally never had the intent to stay permanently in the US. It was many, many years before I took steps even to get my green card. But I eventually realized that if I was going to be treated as “damaged goods” career-wise if I tried to move back to Canada, I was better off staying in the US and getting the full rights of citizenship.
@money, USCIS sends a confirmation letter by regular mail, 1-2 weeks after the request. That letter contains a case number, which you can use to check the status of the request online (they also show the average processing times in this link). When the request is processed, they send the data by regular mail again.
Since USCIS answered my FOIA request for the number of forms I-407 quickly, I made another request asking for the number of CLNs. As I didn’t even receive the initial letter after a month, I decided to send the request again. Then I received an email saying that they had already processed my request asking for the number of forms I-407. Apparently they mixed the two requests. So I responded explaining that the two requests are different. That was almost 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t received the initial letter. I also just contacted a helpful congressional assistant I met earlier this year, asking if she could get the data more easily.
Shadow can you ask just for your I-407, I requested my whole alien file. I wanted the whole file to show I have been out of the country a long time and they knew it.
@money, I think you can ask for anything. I suppose that the whole alien file would also contain an I-407 if you filed one.
Seeing as though the State Dept managed to dodge your FOIA request about the number of CLNs issued (imagine that?), perhaps another agency such as Homeland Security, IRS or FBI would respond. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but one of them just might.
The whole alien file will probably show they knew I left USA in early 1980s, My original Social Security card was for an L-1 visa. I seen somewhere that you had to upgrade the social security card when you got the green card. The green card came to my old US address when I was back in Canada.
Japan Times: “U.S. expatriates flee taxman’s reach”
The article is quite good. It quotes some ACA members and also Allison Christians.
@money I doubt they would have a record of you leaving the USA in the early 80s–although it is possible that if you’ve come and gone from the USA more recently–since they began routinely recording this information–that they would have made a note that you appear to no longer be a US resident.
Today the airlines as well as the Canadian land border officials (not sure about their Mexican counterparts tho) routinely share this info with the US government. Not so in the early 1980’s though.
If the green card was returned to sender because the people living at that address initially didn’t recognize your name, then I think it more likely the INS (now USCIS) would have kept a record of that in your alien file.
Social security cards issued prior to 1992 to people with work authorization (eg L-1 visa) didn’t show any restrictions on the face of the card–although supposedly their internal files contained info about the person’s status which was supposed to be upgraded when you changed status. Again, though, I wonder how much information they really kept and how much was accessible. I originally came on a student visa. I didn’t update my status with social security until I became a citizen but I never had trouble working with the original social security card and my later work visa/green card.
@AbusedExpat, USCIS is part of Homeland Security, not the Department of State. I had already sent a similar FOIA request to the Department of State in May, and they confirmed receipt of my request but haven’t responded yet.
Prior to 1992 did the immigration and naturalization service tell social security about changes to card or was that supposed to be done by card holder?
@money It is STILL supposed to be done by the card holder and always has been. I believe that today when you bring a change to Social Security’s attention, they can look it up and verify it–but how much information changes hands automatically (between SSA and USCIS) and how much only gets updated when you alert a real human being I’m not sure of.
Pre 1992 though it definitely had to be done by the card holder–and verification would have been by way of showing the actual documents to Social Security–not automated in any way, shape, or form.
However, in your case, even if you could prove that Social Security had no record of you ever having a green card–that doesn’t really prove you didn’t have one.
I never updated social security card. Would that social security card still be on record or do I have to apply for a new TIN on the sale of stupid survivor right condo?
Would that old social security card associated with my L-1 still be on record. If I had to apply for a TIN on the sale of a survivor rights condo, would I have to apply for a new one or would the old social security number pop up?
@money If you are choosing to comply with the IRS (I’m unclear on this point because in another thread you want to be a Supreme Court test case), then you should be using your old social security number. Once you have a social security number, it is yours for life and should be used in any dealings with the IRS–even if the transaction(s) being reported to the IRS differ from the original reason you were given a social security number. Whether the card was properly updated from a work visa to a green card number is irrelevant for this purpose.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what happens if you know you once had a social security card but have forgotten the number and no longer have the card. I’m guessing it might not be that easy to get Social Security to give you the number if you no longer qualify for a number based on your present circumstances and have no plans to visit the US. In that case you might have to apply for a TIN on form W-7 and attach it to your tax return.
I will comply with requiring to supply correct Taxpayer ID because it was in my closing document on that damn survivor right condo even though they listed my name as ID. No information on applying to IRS for number.
Sorry, it was somebody else who posted somewhere on IBS or over at Maple Sandbox a copy of the response they received from State Dept saying that State does not keep statistics on the number of CLNs it issues.
August 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm
The FOIA reply from the State Dept about the number of CLNs issued is what was to be expected. They just plain do not want to give out the real numbers.
It would be a national embarrassment if the real numbers of CLNs issued were to become known.
Does the “Name and Shame” publication comply? How do the CLN actual numbers violate privacy, confidentiality or security?
A Freedom of Information request seems to be limited to requesting documents which already exist. It may indeed be true that the State Department has deliberately avoided compiling a report of the numbers of CLNs that it is approving, to avoid the embarrassment of just such an FOIA request. The letter that Leslie Young of Global News received from the State Department seems to indicate that:
The State Department seems to pretend that it issues CLNs simply as a service to individuals, and that only its Office of Passport Services maintains records of them, presumably to avoid issuing future US passports to people who have been granted CLNs. None of State’s offices seem to be interested officially in counting CLNS, not even the Office of Overseas Citizen Services (OCS), which must be the office in Washington in which CLNs issued by US consulates and embassies are ultimately “approved”. Yet it is hard to imagine that no one in OCS is keeping track, off the record, of how many they are approving.
As an alternative to a Freedom of Information request, and testing President Obama’s promise of open government data, there is a request pending at Data.gov asking that organization to compile and publish a data set of the numbers of CLNs approved by the State Department. See https://explore.data.gov/nominate/2412
That request has been pending since last February. I still have hopes that it may ultimately result in some data being released, though now I have doubts about whether that data will be trustworthy. Maybe it will take a Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden inside OCS to reveal this highly-guarded and apparently dangerous data to the public. 🙂
@AbusedExpat, calgary411, FromTheWilderness, AnonAnon, Thank you for the link to the response from the Department of State, I hadn’t seen it before. And thanks for Leslie Young too. I also found out that Andy Sundberg received a similar response last year. So it looks like the Department of State has the data on CLNs, but it’s not a ready record so it doesn’t have to produce it respond to a FOIA request. It did produce it to respond to Congress in 1995.
However, USCIS is supposed to receive a copy of all CLNs, so it might compile the data in a record, like it does for forms I-407. I’ll try to insist with USCIS to at least process my FOIA request.
@Dash1729: I’m a dual citizen, originally from Canada, who has lived in the US for many years and am now a dual USA-Canadian citizens. Interestingly, I used to get the ‘failures who self-deport’ ‘tude not from Americans–but from Canadians any time when I would take steps to return to Canada.
Interesting. This attitude was pretty common in Korea about 10 or 15 years ago too, but a lot less so these days.
@AbusedExpat: perhaps another agency such as Homeland Security, IRS or FBI would respond. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but one of them just might.
One thing I’ve been trying to figure out (mostly by digging through regulations) is whether the FBI gets all CLNs or just the CLNs that the State Department classified as belonging to renunciants. Increasingly I’ve come to suspect that State (rather than all the downstream agencies) is the source of most of the errors, but this is just a hunch.
@Eric, According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, the Department of State is supposed to send only copies of CLNs of renunciants to the FBI.
The helpful congressional assistant responded. She said that she will try to get more information from the Congressional Research Service.
I insisted with USCIS, and received a letter from them today. They wrote that “the responsive records are not under the purview of USCIS”, and recommended that I request the information from the Department of State. I already have a FOIA request pending with the Department of State, so I’ll just wait. But I’m not very hopeful, as Andy Sundberg and Leslie Young already requested the same thing and got a negative response.
The Congressional Research Service responded to the helpful congressional assistant with links to the lists in the Federal Register. I explained to her that the lists are incomplete, and that the best information would be the number of CLNs, directly from the Department of State. She agreed to investigate further, and contacted the congressional liaison at the Department of State. The liaison initially complained that it would be “very time consuming” to obtain the information and that the incomplete lists could be caused by a “delay”, but the assistant insisted and the liaison agreed to respond to the request.
Later, I read the OMB report about form DS-4079 that Eric found, and the following paragraph caught my attention:
General statistical information regarding U.S citizens and Loss of Nationality is maintained in the “Consular Package,” the Consular Workload Statistical System (CWSS) system. This is raw data broken down by the Foreign Service post issuing the report.
So it appears that the Department of State has the data reported by each embassy and consulate, but doesn’t want to compile it because it would take too much time. So I told the assistant that the Department of State could just provide the fragmented data and I could compile it myself. Let’s see what they respond.
Very interesting Shadow Raider, thank you for your persistence, and for keeping us apprised. We learn a lot from your posts.