Summary: South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that 3,621 of their citizens filed Declarations of Permanent Return last year after cancelling foreign citizenship or permanent residence (likely to be about half from the U.S., though their report does not specify), prompting anguished reactions from Korean Americans who didn’t move back; only 95 new renunciants were stripped of firearms purchasing rights and added to NICS in February, the second-smallest monthly total since 2012; and finally, USCIS estimated that 9,371 people will file Form I-407 to abandon their green cards in 2014 and subsequent years, even though the average level in the past five years has been twice that.
Details and links after the jump.
South Korean Declarations of Permanent Return
The JoongAng Ilbo, a South Korean national newspaper, reports that a total of 3,621 South Korean citizens or former citizens filed Declarations of Permanent Return last year, which would require them to provide documentation proving the cancellation of their foreign permanent residence or citizenship.
I have not been able to find the original report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yet, but it probably only contains a total-number rather than a by-country number (which in past years has only been released around July or August in the Diplomatic Whitebook). Judging from past experience, about half of the declarants were former U.S. Persons, with the other half returning from countries as diverse as Canada, Brazil, and the Philippines. That would imply that the level of “reverse migration” among Korean Americans in 2013 remained roughly stable compared to the previous four years.
Most of the declarants were probably ex-green card holders. The ones who were ex-citizens most likely relinquished rather than renounced U.S. citizenship: they would first restore their South Korean citizenship at the Ministry of Justice, and then report that to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul as an INA § 349(a)(1) “expatriating act” rather than swearing an INA § 349(a)(5) oath of renunciation, thus saving them the $450 fee.
Korean Americans react to the number
This not-especially-large number — perhaps an eighth of the migrant flow from South Korea to the U.S., according to Department of State visa statistics — nevertheless prompted a Korean American man to submit an unusually anguished op-ed to the Los Angeles edition of the JoongAng Ilbo reminding readers that “Reverse migration doesn’t solve all problems” and that Korea is really competitive and has cold winters and hot summers and stupid politicians to boot.
This seems to be an example of an unfortunate psychological phenomenon: people don’t feel content to make their own choices about how and where to pursue their happiness while wishing others well with their choices, but insist that others make those exact same choices too and get angry and scared when they don’t. Despite the vaunted national idea of “individualism”, Americans of other ethnic groups would seem to share this fear, given that they insist you must live in America for most of your life in order to be considered “truly American”.
In contrasting news, the FBI added only 95 records to NICS’ “Renounced U.S. Citizenship” category last month, bringing the category total to 24,222 records, according to the latest report on Active Records in the NICS Index. This is the second-smallest monthly addition since 2012 (the smallest being the September 2013 report, which added 69), and about a third of the familiar average of 250 to 300 per month we saw for most of 2013. Reports by Patrick Cain and his colleagues at Global News last year have brought the NICS citizenship data under a higher level of scrutiny than previously, although it still receives only a fraction of the attention devoted to the IRS’ “published expatriates” list.
USCIS and green card abandonment statistics
Finally, in filings to obtain a new OMB Control Number for Form I-407 (the form you send when cancelling your green card), USCIS estimated that an average of 9,371 people would file the form each year. This contrasts with data they provided to Shadow Raider last year in response to an FOIA request, which showed an average of almost twice that level for the past five years. Unfortunately, I missed the 30-day notice in January, and the comments period ended before I could inform them of the discrepancy.
As always, highly informative I like what you did with the GSS in the earlier posting; however, I think that you are missing a more important possible explanation in that post for why Americans in 2004 were much more negative towards Americans who had lived abroad than they were in 1996: 9/11. I was in Washington, D.C. at the time and the rise in xenophobia was dramatic and certainly applied to Americans living overseas. An elderly woman got very scared of me during a coffee session after a church service when I said that I lived in Britain. I was taken aback because nobody finds me intimidating, Britain tends to get along very well with the U.S., and I had nothing in common with the hijackers:
@Publius – Again it’s a case of Homelanders leaving the US. They talk about the 1% percenters for income, Americans who live abroad, we are the 1% percenters in our category.
All Homelanders wear the blinders and many have closed minds. It’s frustrating visiting the US and wanting to discuss international events and other ‘overseas’ stuff, and I feel like a missionary trying to convert Homelanders to some new religion.
I wonder if people with green cards are not in a worse position than Americans who renounce their citizenship to prove they’re not US persons anymore. Do you get any kind of receipt acknowledging you cancelled your green card – the equivalent of a CLN you can give your bank? Anyone cares to comment about that?
@noone, yes, you do(*). To surrender a green card you send or take it, with a form I-407, to your local US consulate. Some consultates require you to appear in person, others (London, for example) will handle the form by mail. Either way you should get a stamped copy of the form back as proof that you no longer have a green card.
(* Unless you are Em, who for some reason got nothing but the runaround from DHS.)
Yes, but I had never encountered it at all before 9/11. My husband and I had been back in the U.S. for a longer period in 1999 with no problem whatsoever. I know the tax issue is big, but in the early 2000s but attitudes about Americans abroad were probably building on a growing fear of the outside world.
Right. I am in I-407 limbo, since early 2012. There’s nothing I can do about it now because USCIS has never replied to my inquiries, except in one instance as to simply acknowledge my change of address and completely ignore my question as to the status of my application. 🙁 Maybe they didn’t like the old US stamps I put on the self-addressed return envelope which I included in the I-407 package.
For those who still have feelings about renouncing/relinquishing US citizenship, take a look at this:
People who lost United States citizenship
The Eurostat data “Acquisition of citizenship by sex, age group and former citizenship” for 2012 was released on Friday. 6,407 US citizens obtained citizenship in an EU-27 country in 2012. An analysis by countries follows regarding dual citizenship for those naturalizing:
Not Tolerated: 294
Limited Toleration: 1,253
“Not Tolerated” countries: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania.
“Limited Toleration” countries: Bulgaria, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain.
“Allowed”: the rest with UK, France and Sweden having the largest number of US citizens taking out EU citizenship.
Generally, US citizens naturalizing in “Limited Toleration” countries such as Germany and Spain would have to relinquish their US citizenship except under restricted circumstances, such as if they were descendents of German Jews, German Communists or Spanish Jews who had lost their citizenship.
To compensate for these limited circumstances, let’s reduce the “Limited Toleration” country figures by 20% to 1,002 US citizens who had to give up US citizenship to obtain citizenship of the six countries listed. This means that a total of 1,296 Americans naturalized in countries where they had to give up US citizenship in 2012. Add the 900 Americans who expatriated in Switzerland in 2012, according to the ACA and Swiss radio, and we arrive at 2,196 Americans who are calculated to have given up US citizenship in 2012 compared with a total of 932 as reported by the Federal Register.
Conclusion: the 932 expatriation figure reported in the Federal Register for 2012 is rubbish.
To help the US State Department properly staff its European embassies for a possible tsunami of expatriations, an estimate of US citizens with a second citizenship was made who are possible expatriation candidates. Using 2013 Eurostat data, the methodology was: 1) determine number of residents in European countries born in the US (who would normally obtain US citizenship under US jus soli laws); 2) determine number of US citizens resident in European countries; and 3) subtract 2) “US citizens resident in Europe” from 1) “European residents born in US” to obtain number of US citizens with dual citizenship. The calculated figure is 292,227.
1) Eurostat did not provide data for: Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta.
2) In addition to EU27 members, minus those without data in 1), non-EU members Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland are included in the Eurostat data and are included in the calculation.
3) France “citizenship” data is for 2006, the latest year available. The “born in country” data was estimated using the percentage of “born in country” to “citizenship” for Belgium, which has similar naturalization laws.
4) Germany also does not provide “born in country” data. It was estimated using the percentage of “born in country” to “citizenship” for the Netherlands, which has similarly restrictive naturalization laws.
5) Czech data showed more residents with US citizenship than residents born in US, unlike all other countries reporting. Czech data was removed from the calculation.
6) The calculated 292,227 dual citizen figure would include US citizens who have already expatriated.
A second calculation was done which showed that the number of US citizens in Europe with dual citizenship increased from 279’405 in 2012 to 292’227 in 2013.
Conclusion: An estimated 290,000 US citizens in Europe are eligible for expatriation if they so decide. To avoid waits of up to one year for an appointment, which reportedly occurred in Bern and London, the US State Department should review the adequacy of its resources and the efficiency of its processes.
A friend of mine will renounce this year, and she was told not to worry- there are appointments to be had in Berne easily. So no “waiting up to one year” unless she was lied to.
Thanks for the update on Bern. The one-year wait for an expatriation appointment was mentioned in an article in the January 2014 “Annabelle”:
“In Bern beträgt die Wartefrist für einen Termin in der US-Botschaft ein Jahr. Weil ich eine Botschaft im Ausland aufsuche, kann ich die Wartezeit auf drei Monate verkürzen.”
Eurostat recently released data called “Acquisition of citizenship by sex, age group and former citizenship” for 2012 for EU28 and several non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland. With FATCA’s implementation already on the horizon in 2012, it could be expected that increasing numbers of US citizens who are long-term residents in Europe would take out European citizenship in order to expatriate. An analysis was performed to determine whether there was an increase in naturalizations for those countries with more than 100 naturalizations of US citizens in 2012 as follows:
1) Average was taken of naturalizations of US citizens for the five-year period 2007 to 2011.
2) Averaged figure was compared to 2012 naturalizations of US citizens.
Ireland: Average for 2008-2011: 119; 2012: 263; 121.0% increase
Netherlands: Average for 2007-2011: 217; 2012: 315; 45.0% increase
UK: Average for 2007-2011: 2,722; 2012: 3,345; 22.9% increase
Germany: Average for 2007-2011: 653; 2012: 764; 17.0% increase
Switzerland: Average for 2007-2011: 297; 2012: 335; 12.9% increase
Sweden: Average for 2007-2011: 339; 2012: 371; 9.5% increase
France: Average for 2007-2011: 512; 2012: 528; 3.0% increase
Belgium: Average for 2007-2011: 146; 2012: 138; -5.5% increase
Conclusion: Seven of eight countries showed an increase in naturalization by US citizens for the year 2012 vs. the average for 2007 to 2011. The increases for the Netherlands and Germany may be more meaningful than for other listed countries since they would not normally allow retention of US citizenship by naturalizing Americans. However, even though there are increases in naturalizations by Americans in seven of the eight countries for 2012 vs. the average for 2007 to 2011, without in depth analysis, the increase may or may not be caused by FATCA as other factors could be at work. An increase in expatriations and issuance of CLNs would likely be more directly linked to the roll-out of FATCA and the related crackdown on diaspora tax and FBAR compliance.
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