Citizenship and Nationality/United States/Loss

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8 United States Code § 1481 governs voluntary and involuntarily loss of citizenship and nationality. Therefore, an Application for United States passport has to ascertain an applicant's citizenship and nationality.

Voluntary loss[edit | edit source]

In 1990, the U.S. State Department adopted new regulations that would presume keeping U.S. nationality when doing any of these that might otherwise lose the nationality:[1]

  1. One is naturalized in a foreign country;
  2. One takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign state;
  3. One serves in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities with the United States, or
  4. One accepts non-policy level employment with a foreign government,

However, those doing these may still say that they do want to voluntarily lose the nationality, subject to official approval.

Formally renouncing the U.S. nationality is the most unequivocal way to voluntarily expatriate. Americans inside the United States are to ask the Department of Homeland Security, and those abroad are to ask nearby U.S. Embassy or Consulate for questions. The U.S. Government warns Americans how bad voluntarily going stateless is.[2]

As claiming a right to continue to reside in the United States does not automatically justify renouncing the U.S. nationality,[3] pre-applying for U.S. immigration from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security seems needed.

Special renunciants[edit | edit source]

The Foreign Affairs Manual has specific information for renouncing U.S. nationality involving minors, incompetents, prisoners, plea bargains, cults and other special circumstances.[4]

Minors[edit | edit source]

Parents cannot renounce the nationality of their U.S. children, so minors under 18 years old must convince consular officers that they do understand what exactly renouncing the U.S. nationality is. Even if approved while being minors, they have six months after reaching 18 to reinstate U.S. nationality.

Plea bargains[edit | edit source]

Renouncing the U.S. nationality does not automatically avoid possible prosecution for crimes punishable by the U.S law. However, plea bargains may reduce or even avoid penalties by renouncing the U.S. nationality. U.S. consular officers abroad are officially instructed not to enforce the plea agreement nor make comment on it to the renunciant.

On November 29, 2016, then President-Elect Donald John Trump said on Twitter: "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"[5] However, the United States Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), and reaffirmed in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), has ruled that due to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is unconstitutional for a government (whether federal, state, or municipality) to prohibit the desecration of a flag, due to its status as "symbolic speech." So his quote would be possible only in content-neutral criminality and plea bargains, like this scenario:

  1. Someone in the USA publicly and unsafely burns a flag and commits a content-neutral crime risking imprisonment, like the ordinance in Iowa City, Iowa, USA[6] or a hate crime for desecrating a flag representing a minority group.[7]
  2. A prosecutor as the plaintiff considers the circumstance worth a plea bargain, thus offering a deal to voluntarily renouncing U.S. citizenship and nationality to reduce, postpone, or even drop the charge.
  3. Then the suspect as the defendant will likely ask a reliable lawyer to carefully consider whether it is worth the deal.

Being law-abiding is the key to avoid trading U.S. citizenship and nationality to satisfy any plaintiff's possibly harsh demand. Wikibooks cannot give legal opinions.

Involuntary loss[edit | edit source]

Even the regulations in 1990 would not presume keeping American nationality when doing any of the following acts, thus making involuntary loss of nationality possible but not automatic, as United States consular officers will develop carefully these three cases to ascertain the individual's intent toward U.S. nationality:

  1. One serves as an officer in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities with the United States; (This act, but not burning American flag, would risk being convicted of treason, limited by s:Constitution_of_the_United_States_of_America#Article._III., Section 3.)
  2. One takes a policy level position in a foreign state.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Dual Nationality". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  2. "Renunciation of U.S. Nationality Abroad". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  3. "Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship by persons claiming right of residence in the United States". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  4. "7 FAM 1290 MINORS, INCOMPETENTS, PRISONERS, PLEA BARGAINS, CULTS AND OTHER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES". U.S. Department of State. November 22, 2017. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  5. McGinness, Brett (November 30, 2016). "For the Record: Trump's flag-burning tweet starts flame war". USA Today. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  6. "Resources and documents". Iowa City Fire Department. 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  7. Sahouri, Andrea May; Miskimen, Gage; Gehr, Danielle (December 20, 2019). "Iowa man sentenced to 16 years for setting LGBTQ flag on fire". Des Moines Register.