Right before I left the US to go to university my parents filled in the “selective service” conscription card for me that came in the post. I haven’t in all honesty thought anything about it until today.
You see, whilst on the US Embassy website today I clicked on the “Selective Service” tab and was disturbed to learn that there is some penalty for not informing them of change of address. I’ve lived at more addresses than I can remember since then and never updated them about it. I thought about doing it now right before I renounce, but they need a “selective service number” in addition to the social security one. I have no idea where to find this information and my parents haven’t a clue.
What does this mean in terms of renouncing? Will I be drilled on this during the interview? For those still in the age range is it better to wait until reaching 26 to renounce? Will they even notice/Does the department that handles renunciations even communicate with the selective service people? What about those born abroad who renounce between these ages and never registered? Is there a financial penalty for that?
The only open threats that I see on the SS website is a penalty of 250,000 dollars and/or five years in prison for knowingly submitting a false address, but nothing seems to be mentioned for failing to update your old address. They also talk mention that those who are registered remain eligible for student aid, federal jobs, and citizenship if not a US citizen (BTW does anyone else find it perverse to enlist non-citizens on a conscription database??). In this case the US frames compliance more in terms of the benefits that one receives rather than the penalties that one may endure. Is this thinking correct?
Apologies for making this a blog entry which is full of more questions than answers, but I feel that it is important enough to get some attention on the main page since I haven’t seen this issue discussed anywhere. Please share your experiences or understanding of how the US is currently handling this!
The selective service registration is in effect a “sleeping” list. There currently is no obligatory military service in the list, but the law requres US citizens to register in case of a national emergency which results in reactivation on obligatory military servivce.
Foreign citizens resident in the US are welcomed as volunteers who wish to become a part of the US military. Those who do, and there are quite a few, can become US citizens on an accelerated basis, if they so desire, without the normal 5-years-of-residence having been met.
I have no idea what the penaltis are for having failed to resgister for selective service.
“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”
– Herbert Hoover
The only thing resembling a real-world consequence is that you can be denied student loans for failing to register. This actually happened to a US/Can dual citizen colleague of mine, which made him cranky since he wasn’t aware of the whole concept of draft registration, having lived his whole life up to that point in Canada, but had no objection to it. He was 26, so no comebacks.
I never registered either, out of ignorance – I was 22 or so when I got a passport at the US consulate in Toronto, and they never mentioned it. I wouldn’t have minded either – I was invloved with the Canadian military at the time. You’d think it would be a useful consular thing to point out to a draft-age male who has obviously lived his whole life abroad, but never mind.
I registered for SS when I turned 18 because I had seen many commercials about it and I thought that “it was my duty”. But I was active duty for many years afterwards. I didn’t know about the change of address though. From my “experiences” with the US gov., they like to assign a “permanent” address to you. In my case it was/is my parents address.
They were able to find me back in 2008 when my parents had only recently moved 2 weeks before and the address had not propogated all of the main databases. If they want to get in contact with you, they *can* and *will*.
I still stand by my story – US citizenship is good for people who want to live in America forever. It’s not so good for people who want to live overseas forever. People who are thinking of moving to the US should only be aware of these facts.
@Don, I think that you are my age or a little younger. I’m 35. I doubt you have much to worry about. I think even the US realises (what a surprise!!) that conscript = low quality. Maybe not all of them, but the statistic is low. Even my own personal experiences while on active duty supported this.
Gosh, I felt so “American” writing this comment. OK, American “feeling is already gone!”
Here we are:
Ignore the threats of prosecution – it hasn’t happened to anybody in the real world for at least a generation. The student loan/hiring issues are more realistic.
^^ A broken Man — THIS is why I find the treatment of US Expats as RIDICULOUS. If I renounced and then went to the US on a foreign passport, and I tell everyone that I was “BORN” there, do you actually think anybody is going to treat me as a non-American?? I highly doubt it. For the US, what’s the REAL value of a renunciation, ZERO. This is another reason why I’m against the $450 fee.
The only party who may have a clue if the DoS. The need to renounce/relinquish = ridiculous / harrassing US “persons” overseas = ridicuclous. The current US system has the practicality of a kindergarten or first-grade class. We live overseas because we have lives here, not because we don’t want to pay taxes. Alll the rich Americans live in America. If I wanted to renounce and then suck Welfare money, I could do it.
Fortunately for the US Social Security Admin, I don’t need it, and I don’t want to go back to the USA. Keep giving the money to lazy people who don’t want to work and see what happens. Cardinal rule #99, never encourage lazy behavior. US Welfare does this in 99% of the cases.
I left the US for Europe right after high school and I registered here with the US consulat during my first month here. About 3 months after registering with the consulat if got mail from the selective service asking me to fill out a form and sending it back to them. I remember it took about 6 month ’til I recieved a cheap slip of paper that when folded in half is about the size of a credit card. On it, as far as I can remember, is my SS # and some other # generated by the selective service. Did you loose the card?
I’m at work right now, I’ll try to post back this evening and let you know exactly what is on it.
This is an interesting thread, and something i never though about. My 23 yr old son is so far mostly off the radar. He is now travelling in Australia. I have been trying to get him to think about his options. Get a SSN, and passport to keep the option of working in the US open to him, and keep up to date with tax stuff, or to renounce now. But he will NOT be OK with anything that involves registering for the selective service, even if it means nothing in practice.
I wonder if anyone has or knows of what happens if someone who doesn’t have a SSN tries to renounce. In my case, neither of my children have made enough money to complete tax forms up until now. Do they make you get a SSN just so you can use it to renounce your citizenship?
I don’t think that you can really cut all of the ties if you don’t have an SSN, mainly because you wouldn’t be able to fill in form 8854 (the expatriation form that officially severs financial ties). This has to be submitted even if he doesn’t need to submit an FBAR, 1040 or whatever. Annoying to be sure.
As to the Selective Service issue, I am starting to believe that this will be a non-issue since it sounds like that they don’t ask anything about it and all of the penalties only relate to those living in the US.
So what do you suppose would happen if you submitted a 8854 with a covering letter explaining why there are no 1040’s and no SSN. Getting a SSN for the sole purpose of renouncing seems like a complete waste of everyone’s time. If you don’t have a pre-existing SSN, there is obviously not going to be any employment or income records connected to it, for them to find.
Does the DOS need a SSN for you to reounce? If not, if the DOS lets you renounce without a SSN, how would you go about getting one for the IRS after you’re already renounced?
I wonder if anyone has tried this yet. It’s what my daughter is planning on doing. I guess we’ll see what they say.
Doc That is precisely what is in the instructions.
Quote. ‘ IDENTIFYING NUMBER
Generally, this number is your U.S. social security
number. An incorrect or missing identifying number may result in a continued obligation to file U.S. tax returns as a citizen or resident of the United States for persons expatriating after June 3, 2004, and before June 17, 2008, and/or a penalty of $10,000. If you were never issued a social security number, please attach a statement explaining the reason.’
If you were to obtain a number for the purpose of renouncing, it would suppose you had ties that you don’t.
Great stuff! My family moved to Canada when I was 13. Along with FBAR and all that crap I’ve never heard of or registered for SS.
Sorry, I guess that I didn’t realise that there could be certain cases where you don’t need the number. I’ve just been overloaded by stories of people who had to apply for it in order to be able to file their back taxes and then renounce. I guess that if you are a young person who has never earned or had an account over 10,000 dollars then filing it alone would work I guess.
I would personally apply for the number even if I were in this situation so as to not attract any IRS attention. I am also going to renounce as opposed to relinquish, because I want to be 100% sure that the process goes fast and cannot be challenged or bogged down. Just me though.
My wife recently relinquished and there was not requirement to give a Social Security Number.