The Department of the Treasury has finally placed the latest Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who have Chosen to Expatriate on public inspection for printing in tomorrow’s Federal Register, ten days late. Congratulations to Innocente for being the first to post the news at 9 AM right on the dot. There’s about 1,130 names of people who have permanently cut off their legal ties to the U.S. government, making this a record-breaking quarter; more names have appeared in the first half of this year than in all of the previous record high year of 2011.
The number of names in Treasury’s list roughly matches the 1,106 entries the FBI added to NICS in the same quarter. However, this still doesn’t mean their list is complete: the FBI only records people who renounced U.S. citizenship under 8 USC § 1481(a)(5), whereas Treasury is supposed to record renunciants, relinquishers (8 USC § 1481(a)(1)–(4)), and theoretically even some of the nearly twenty thousand people who give up green cards each year (though in fact there’s evidence that they do not include the latter). Projecting from the FBI’s data, the total number of people who gave up U.S. citizenship last quarter in one way or another is probably two thousand; I’d guess during the same period there’s a similar number of people giving up green cards they’ve held for at least eight of the past fifteen years (the alleged standard for inclusion in Treasury’s list), though this is harder to estimate. And while some famous ex-citizens appear in Treasury’s list, others do not.
Public figures in this quarter’s list include Hong Kong Commerce & Economic Development Bureau official Bernard Chan who renounced in February, businesswoman & political candidate Erica Yuen (a bit late, as she renounced last summer), and Israeli legislators Naftali Bennett and Dov Lipman who both gave up U.S. citizenship in January after they were elected. A colleague of mine who renounced over a year ago also finally showed up in the list. Congratulations to all friends of Isaac Brock who made the expat honour roll!
However, famous ex-citizens of recent vintage who are included find themselves outnumbered by ex-citizens who turned in their blue passports in the past four quarters but are not included: legislators & legislative candidates Fauzia Kasuri of Pakistan, Sharon Roulstone of the Cayman Islands, Akierra Missick of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Victor Okaikoi of Ghana, as well as Zurich mayor Corine Mauch. That’s not including the dozens more who gave up citizenship between 2006 and early 2012 and aren’t included either.
And unsurprisingly, neither State nor Treasury worked fast enough this time to print the names of any of the public figures known to have renounced citizenship during the last quarter, among them Hong Kong banker Marshall Nicholson, Cuban spy René González, and Taiwanese basketball player Quincy Davis. Also I don’t think Tina Turner appears, though I’m not really sure under what name she’d appear, or whether she has even started the procedures for relinquishment after naturalising as a Swiss citizen earlier this year. I guess they and the rest of us ordinary folks are not as important as Afghan leader Hamid Karzai’s brother, who was rushed through the system to show up in the list in record time, making him one of the few to receive the honour of showing up during the same quarter in which he renounced.
Shadow Raider (to whom we owe thanks for getting the above-mentioned data on green card abandonments) has another FOIA request pending with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services asking for the number of Certificates of Loss of Nationality they receive from the State Department each year. It’ll be interesting to see if their figures match up either with the FBI’s or with Treasury’s; perhaps all these missing names are due to State not forwarding some CLNs, for whatever reason?
@bubblebustin: just for you, I made a post on this topic using not-so-great statistics I dug up:
I think there may be at least 20,000 babies per year whose parents don’t register them with the U.S. consulate, either because they don’t care, don’t know about the procedure, or explicitly want to hide their kids from the consequences of being a U.S. citizen. But this is just a back-of-the-envelope estimate.
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@Watcher wrote: ‘@bubblebustin, how about just “This listing contains some names.'”
I sure wish we had a “like” button! 🙂
USCIS declined to process my FOIA request asking for the number of CLNs, saying that it should be sent to the Department of State. I had already sent a request to the Department of State but it hasn’t answered yet (it has been more than 5 months). Meanwhile, I tried to obtain the information through a congressional assistant. She contacted the Department of State, which answered that it simply does not record of the number of CLNs. Others have received a similar response, so I gave up trying to obtain the number of CLNs. I think the Department of State really doesn’t have that information.
So I decided to ask for something slightly different: the number of cases of renunciation or loss of nationality requested at US embassies and consulates. The requests are almost always approved so the numbers should be practically the same as the CLNs. And the Department of State does have that information, recorded in the Consular Workload and Statistics System (CWSS), and it has even released the numbers for some years. So I made another FOIA request asking for this specific data from the CWSS.
Thank you for your persistence Shadow Raider. I believe that establishing this information – or as close to we can get to it is key.
Recently we had a commenter say that they were told at the Toronto Consulate that the wait to receive CLNs is currently 7-9 months. Whether that is due to the numbers rising of those renouncing/relinquishing or applying for CLNs, or to delaying tactics by the US government, we don’t know.
@badger, shadow raider
Save government shut downs and backlogs, the renunciations should really increase each quarter and begin to taper off as there are fewer US citizens living abroad – or at least willing to admit they’re US citizens.
If the figure of 7 million Us citizens overseas is correct, we are a very long way from renunciations tapering off!!
The end of American global migration will indeed take years!
@Bubblebustin, not really. America will simply declare everyone as being a “US Person”, just like how it already did so as mentioned in the latest news:
That was an interesting read. The absurdity continues in defining those who may be US Persons. I accessed article by putting a search into Google News for the title, “Derivatives: Redefining ‘US person’ creates fund manager turmoil” and answering a question like what would be the best gift I could think of for Christmas — I answered ‘peace on earth’ and it gave me access.
@Shadow Raider: the fact that the DOS cannot determine how many CLNs have been issued is an internal control weakness that the GAO (Government Accounting Office) would likely be interested in. an easy fix, prospectively, is to number the CLNs. This should also reduce the possibility of fraud since a unique number would be assigned to the CLN with the person’s name.
Would you consider reporting this internal control weakness to the GAO?
@Innocente, I too have wondered why the State Department doesn’t number CLNs, and I was puzzled when ShadowRaider’s FOIA request for numbers of CLNs was denied. As I recall, the letter he received said that State indexes its database of CLNs only by people’s names and that it would be a violation of individuals’ privacy for others to search the database. (@ShadowRaider, please correct me if I’m wrong about that. I can’t locate that letter on line now.)
CLNs seem to have a curious status as government documents. Unlike most documents issued by a government to an individual, a CLN, rather than documenting the beginning of a relationship between the government and the individual, documents the end of a relationship. (One possible parallel I can think of is a death certificate.) Considered as such, it may be in the interest of the government not to identify the certificates with unique serial numbers, because that would suggest some sort of continuing relationship (“ex-citizen number XXXXXXX”), implying the possibility of future communication between the parties based on that number, and conferring on that individual officially numbered membership in a class of individuals: Former Citizens of the United States.
Also, an embarrassing question would be: How many digits, maximum, should they plan for CLN serial numbers? Should they allow for the possibility of issuing, say, more than 999,999 CLNs?
Or more than 9,999 per year, if they wanted to number them by year as 2013XXXX?
Actually I’m kinda surprised the Sovereign Citizens types haven’t already suggested that their people try filing Form 8854. At worst, it wouldn’t work any less well than their usual tactics of filing frivolous motions in state court and complaining about capital letters on their birth certificates. At best, it would actually work … at least until IRS & State cleaned up their whole act with CLNs. (But I strongly suspect State would resist any such “cleanup”).
But other than that, at some point there is bound to be an unintentional case of a slightly confused taxpayer who files Form 8854 without actually “expatriating” first. Probably it will be an old lady who can’t make head or tails of the instructions, can’t afford a lawyer unless she decides to skip meals or turn down the thermostat that week, and mistakenly concludes that sending in Form 8854 itself is the way to cancel her citizenship. And then we’ll get to see whether Jacobson was telling the truth about not going after Canadian grandmas.
To the discussion about how IRS reconciles with state on 8854s, etc…
Approximately 2.5 yrs after filing my 8854 (read: 6 months before the statute of limitations expiry), I received a formal letter from IRS saying they were reviewing my expatriation-year tax return, and requesting a copy of my CLN, which I sent them.
I don’t know this for sure, but my strong suspicion is that this is all they have for a coordination system – if you stop paying U.S. taxes and start filing 1040NR instead (only required if you still have tax withholdings you want back), after a couple of years they ask for your CLN to make sure you didn’t just pretend to expatriate.
Again, I have no idea what their actual system is, but my strong impression is that it’s not terribly robust.
@Innocente, The congressional assistant I contacted said that she thought the lack of record of CLNs was “ridiculous”. She also said that the Department of State told her that they just send the physical copies of CLNs to the IRS, which is responsible for compiling the list of names. Maybe the problem is with the IRS. I don’t know how to contact the GAO.
@AnonAnon, My FOIA request to the Department of State hasn’t been denied, they just haven’t answered yet. You’re probably referring to the answer to a similar request made by a Canadian journalist (see here).
@ShadowRaider, you’re right. Thanks. What I confused with your FOIA request was a request from Global News that was rejected. The rejection letter is at
Here is a passage from it:
“After renunciation has been completed, the Office of Passport Services (PPT) maintains renunciation records. ACS, OCS and PPT do not compile renunciation statistics. Renunciation records are privacy protected name-retrievable only; for a third party to access such records, you would have to provide the name of each person who has renounced, and also obtain written authorization from that person.”
I find it strange that renunciation records are maintained only by the Office of Passport Services and that they are retrievable only by name. That suggests that their primary use, as far as the State Department is concerned, is to be checked to avoid giving new passports to people who are no longer citizens.
Maybe the renunciation records maintained by the Office of Passport Services are also accessible by border guards to verify the validity of CLN copies presented to them.
As other people have pointed out, for a government document with real-world significance, CLNs are ridiculously easy to forge.Especially if the banks are happy with a photocopy, and don’t need to see the original.
How about an Open Letter to
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
The United States of America
I have recently obtained a Certificate of Loss of Nationality approved by the Department of State. Can you please explain exactly what it entitles me to do?
@AnonAnon, when I was on vacation on Malta, Kerry’s daughter said on the radio that she comes from a family that cares about and listens to people in need. They probably don’t view expats or former Americans as being people, though.
What we’re seeing with “Journalism” and “FOIA”: http://freebeacon.com/journalists-obama-the-worst-since-nixon/