As I just noticed, last week the State Department released one of the final missing pieces of their Report of the Visa Office for Fiscal Year 2016: Table XX, “Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Ineligibilities (by Grounds for Refusal Under the Immigration and Nationality Act)”.
This latest update reveals that two out of the tens of thousands of people who have renounced citizenship since 1996 were denied U.S. non-immigrant visas last year under 8 USC § 1182(a)(10)(E) (colloquially known as the Reed Amendment) because they had renounced U.S. citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation by the United States. One was later able to overcome the finding of inadmissibility.
This is the first time the State Department have formally admitted to denying visas on that basis. However, for decades they have been denying visas to about a half-dozen ex-citizens or ex-green card holders per year whom they believe left or stayed outside the U.S. to avoid the draft.
The State Department acting on their own cannot legally find you inadmissible under the Reed Amendment, and the Foreign Affairs Manual warns consular officers against doing so. They need a determination of inadmissibility from the Department of Homeland Security. DHS have said they can only make such determinations if ex-citizens “affirmatively admit to renouncing their U.S. citizenship for the purpose of avoiding U.S. taxation” — the IRS cannot offer DHS any assistance, due to provisions protecting the confidentiality of tax returns, and State can only tell DHS what the renunciant tells State.
DHS revealed all these difficulties in a November 2015 report, which both myself and Patricia Moon have previously discussed. It is not clear whether the two individuals denied visas by State last year were the same two individuals mentioned in that 2015 report (to whom DHS had previously denied entry), though I suspect that may be the case.
In short, don’t tell DHS or State the obvious truth about why you want to stop being a U.S. citizen, and they — unlike the IRS — officially won’t treat you any worse than they treat other non-citizens. (Unofficially, there do seem to be a few reports of consular officers getting angry that anyone would dare apostatise from the American civic religion, and then using an outlandish finding of 8 USC § 1184(b) “failure to overcome presumption of immigrant intent” as an excuse to deny a visa.)