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||Appeared in
|Lu Shu-hao||Military||Taiwan||Service in Republic of China Army||January 2014 or earlier||No||Taipei Times|
|Sandy Opravil||Housewife||Switzerland||Save her mortgage||February 2014||Q3 2014||Newsweek|
|Roger Ver||Bitcoin investor||St. Kitts & Nevis||Libertarian political opinions||February 2014||No||Bloomberg|
|Sophia Martelly||Politician||Haiti||Run for Senate of Haiti||March 2014||Q3 2015||Haiti Press Network|
|Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah||Writer||Israel||Complicated; see source||March 2014||Q2 2014||Times of Israel|
|Sean Cavanaugh||Technology||Canada||FATCA||April 2014||Q1 2015||Tweeted own CLN in August 2014|
|Mona Quartey||Politician||Ghana||Become Deputy Finance Minister of Ghana||July 2014||No||Graphic News (Ghana)|
|Alex Kim||Singer||South Korea||Obtain South Korean citizenship & serve in military||August 2014||Q1 2016||Herald Business (South Korea)|
|Nicole Beaudoin||Unknown||Canada||FATCA||September 2014||Q3 2014||La Presse (Canada)|
|Kim Sungkyum||Military||South Korea||Be commissioned an officer in the Republic of Korea Army||December 2014||Q1 2015||Kookbang Ilbo (South Korea)|
|Lin Jou-min||Architect||Taiwan||Take position in Taipei city government||December 2014||Q3 2015||Central News Agency (Taiwan)|
|Rachel Azaria||Politician||Israel||Take office as Member of Knesset||January 2015||Q2 2016||Times of Israel|
|Jonathan Tepper||Macroeconomic analyst||United Kingdom||FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements||January 2015||Q1 2016||The New York Times|
|David Alward||Politician||Canada||Become Canadian consul-general in Boston||April 2015 or earlier||Q3 2015||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|
|Alfred Oko Vanderpuije||Politician||Ghana||Stand for election to Parliament||August 2015||No||Starr FM (Ghana)|
|Philip Ryu||Singer||South Korea||Serve in South Korean army||September 2015 or earlier||No||Money Today (South Korea)|
|Rachel Heller||Writer||Netherlands||FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements even when no U.S. tax is owed||November 2015||No||Blog (will be included in TV news programme at a later date)|
|Kang Dong-suk||Violinist||South Korea||Restore South Korean citizenship||2015 (month not specified)||No||News1 (South Korea)|
|Neil Llamanzares||Businessman||Philippines||Public opinion (his wife ran for President, but lost after he renounced)||April 2016||No||Rappler (Philippines)|
|Lee Chih-kung||Physicist||Taiwan||Appointed Minister of Economic Affairs by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen||May 2016||No||Apple Daily (Taiwan)|
|Ned Mannoun||Politician||Australia||Run for Australian parliament||May 2016 or earlier||No||Liverpool Champion (Australia)|
|Yehuda Glick||Politician||Israel||Take office as Member of Knesset||May 2016||No||Arutz Sheva (Israel)|
|Judy Chan Ka-pui||Politician||Hong Kong||Run for Hong Kong Legislative Council||July 2016||No||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!