[APRIL 10, 2019 UPDATE: Notwithstanding the behaviour of Vice-Consul, a CLN was received today. Granted, readers were not with the person at the Consulate to verify absolutely what actually happened, but unlike some commenters I find the details below credible and personally feel that the behaviour of the Vice-Consul was clearly unprofessional. The young adult person involved read all of the comments, on many diverse subjects, in this post (which is now closed for commenting) and was "particularly amused/bewildered" by the comments that called events of the story into question and in particular, the comment from one person who suggested that the story might be "fake news".]
— Acknowledging that this is only a single case, my purpose for this post is to advise the public of the possibility that some persons who wish to renounce their U.S. citizenship might experience a similar “grilling” at a renunciation interview — and that they should consider preparing for the possibility of such intensive questioning.
Related issues are whether 1) the Vice-Consul crossed the line into “interference” of the right to expatriate; and 2) whether it’s really best for 18 year-olds to wait [until.... what...?].
I am posting below (with permission) details, which I received today, of the experience of a young person of legal age who attempted to renounce United States citizenship at a US Consulate in Canada:
“Anyone preparing to renounce their US citizenship needs to be aware of a situation affecting a young adult renunciant of which I have recently become aware.
This person attempted to renounce at a US Consulate in Canada and received an unpleasant surprise. Instead of the standard brief interview process, which typically involves being made aware of the consequences of renunciation and determination of voluntariness, this person was subjected an almost 30-minute grilling by the Vice Consul about how foolish their intention to renounce was, especially at their young age, accompanied by proselytizing about the virtues of American citizenship.
It was explicitly stated by this official that they had to know, in detail, why this person was renouncing and that they had to be fully convinced of the validity of their motives before the renunciation could be forwarded to Washington for approval, as if they were a minor under 18 instead of an adult.
The Vice Consul badgered the young person, asking again and again for an explanation, even though they had clearly said that they did not wish to make a statement about why they were renouncing, both in the paperwork and in person at the interview.
In particular, the Vice Consul insinuated that the young person was most likely being coerced by their parents because no young adult would have the life experience or understanding to take such a monumental action.
Also, they spent a good portion of this “lecture” extolling the virtues of maintaining US citizenship and even derided the young person for not considering attending university in the US. The Vice Consul called them “naive” and “blasé” and said that they were acting “rashly”, even though the person in question is very mature, intelligent, well-spoken, and firmly resolute in this decision and in their motivations.
The Vice Consul went on to say that it was extremely rare that an 18 year-old person would take this action and that “it didn’t make any sense.”
The Vice Consul also said there was no reason to renounce because there were no negative consequences to holding both citizenships.
She then implied that Canadian citizenship wasn’t as valuable because Canada couldn’t/wouldn’t help out like America could/would while travelling abroad (e.g., consular assistance, military rescue, etc.), even saying that the Canadian flag on the backpack would only get you so far but that travelling under the US passport gave you the most safety of all.
While the Vice Consul was technically polite and did not raise her voice, it appeared to the young renunciant that the official’s intent was to manipulate. In their opinion, the Vice Consul’s actions constituted a clear attempt to intimidate and to spread pro-American propaganda and to create doubt in their mind about whether they should renounce or whether they even had the right to renounce at this age (even though they are an adult). Accordingly, they are now afraid that the State Department will reject the renunciation and keep the USD$2350 due to the Vice Consul’s willingness to bully them in this way.
I don’t know if this is a new policy being implemented by the State Department or if it is a random occurrence happening to this one person but anyone planning to renounce should be prepared for an intense grilling about motives and unprofessional conduct by consular officials, especially if they are young adults.
This young person feels strongly that their human right to expatriate without interference, as guaranteed by the Expatriation Act of 1868, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was clearly infringed. Be aware and be prepared.”