Notwithstanding any other provision of law, not later than 30 days after the close of each calendar quarter, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register the name of each individual losing United States citizenship (within the meaning of section 877(a) or 877A) with respect to whom the Secretary receives information under the preceding sentence during such quarter.
— 26 USC § 6039G(d), second sentence
For the third time since Jack Lew took office in 2013, he’s managed to meet the 30-day deadline for his quarterly homework, but only by handing in an incomplete assignment. The latest Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate is now available in pre-print PDF form, but it’s just 14 pages long and has barely five hundred names in it. That makes it the second-shortest list during Lew’s term, beaten by only the Q2 2015 list. (Clearly Lew is a firm believer in Petros’ principle that less is better when it comes to complying with the U.S.’ “Internal” Revenue Code.)
Meanwhile, the Renounced United States Citizenship category in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS; note the new web address) went from 33,947 records as of 31 March to 36,028 as of 30 June, an increase of 2,081 records. (And NICS only covers 8 USC § 1481(a)(5) renunciants, not people relinquishing U.S. citizenship under other paragraphs of that same subsection.) Furthermore, based on the response to Shadow Raider’s latest Freedom of Information Act request with USCIS, it looks like about seven or eight thousand people are filing Form I-407 to give up their green cards each quarter. In other words, at least forty thousand people per year are deciding to cut their legal ties with the United States rather than retain or pursue citizenship.
Green card abandoners definitely not in list
The Federal Register list includes a very carefully-worded statement 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”. Certain inattentive journalists interpret to mean that the list actually includes people who gave up green cards which they’ve held in eight or more of the last fifteen years, but that’s clearly impossible.
The IRS complained more than 15 years ago that they couldn’t include ex-green card holders in the list because the files which the old Immigration and Naturalization Service gave them “do not distinguish former long-term residents from other former green card holders and generally do not include tax identification numbers”. That little inter-agency snafu has continued up to the present day: there’s still nowhere to write your SSN on I-407 even after the recent redesign, and USCIS explicitly stated last year (emphasis mine) that when you file I-407, “we will provide only your name and the filing date to the IRS”.
As always, after the jump please find a table of recent media reports naming individuals who have given up U.S. citizenship.
Media reports on individual ex-citizens
Here’s a table of people mentioned by name in media reports as having given up U.S. citizenship since the beginning of 2014. I’m no longer including 2013 and earlier reports in the table, since it seems safe to guess that relinquishers from that long ago not included in the Federal Register by now — e.g. René González or Donald Keene — will never appear. One public figure appearing in this quarter’s list, Rachel Azaria, renounced U.S. citizenship more than a year and a half ago, just before she took office in January 2015 as a Member of the Knesset in Israel. Three out of 11 relinquishers from 2014, and all relinquishers after around mid-2015, are missing from the Federal Register published expatriates list.
It’s not which missing names will appear at some future date, and which will remain missing. Some people who gave up U.S. citizenship much later than mid-2015 have already appeared in The List — for example, Sandra Leung Shuk-bo, who took office as Political Assistant to the Secretary for Innovation and Technology of Hong Kong in January, and whose name appeared in last quarter’s list. (It is not a legal requirement to renounce foreign citizenships in order to take a Political Assistant position in Hong Kong. However, there is a very strong public expectation that candidates will do so, ever since the government faced criticism back in 2008 over the large numbers of dual citizens nominated to such positions.)
|Giving up US citizenship
|Service in Republic of China Army
|January 2014 or earlier
|Save her mortgage
|St. Kitts & Nevis
|Libertarian political opinions
|Run for Senate of Haiti
|Haiti Press Network
|Complicated; see source
|Times of Israel
|Tweeted own CLN in August 2014
|Become Deputy Finance Minister of Ghana
|Graphic News (Ghana)
|Obtain South Korean citizenship & serve in military
|Herald Business (South Korea)
|La Presse (Canada)
|Be commissioned an officer in the Republic of Korea Army
|Kookbang Ilbo (South Korea)
|Take position in Taipei city government
|Central News Agency (Taiwan)
|Take office as Member of Knesset
|Times of Israel
|FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements
|The New York Times
|Become Canadian consul-general in Boston
|April 2015 or earlier
|Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
|Alfred Oko Vanderpuije
|Stand for election to Parliament
|Starr FM (Ghana)
|Serve in South Korean army
|September 2015 or earlier
|Money Today (South Korea)
|FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements even when no U.S. tax is owed
|Blog (will be included in TV news programme at a later date)
|Restore South Korean citizenship
|2015 (month not specified)
|News1 (South Korea)
|Public opinion (his wife ran for President, but lost after he renounced)
|Appointed Minister of Economic Affairs by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen
|Apple Daily (Taiwan)
|Run for Australian parliament
|May 2016 or earlier
|Liverpool Champion (Australia)
|Take office as Member of Knesset
|Arutz Sheva (Israel)
|Judy Chan Ka-pui
|Run for Hong Kong Legislative Council
|Apple Daily (Hong Kong)
Kang Dong-suk’s renunciation is a rather interesting one. South Korea generally disallows dual citizenship except when acquired by birth or adoption — therefore, natives who naturalise in other countries automatically lose their South Korean citizenship, and applicants for naturalisation or for restoration of citizenship must give up their other citizenships within a year. However Article 10, Paragraph 2(4) of the Nationality Law provides an exception to this principle for people over age 65, allowing them to hold dual citizenship. Kang, who is already 62 and has been living in South Korea as a non-citizen for more than a decade, could have waited three more years and then restored his South Korean citizenship without giving up the U.S. one, but for whatever reason he decided that he’d rather give up U.S. citizenship and get his South Korean citizenship back sooner rather than later.
Congratulations to all those who made the expat honour roll this term!