Is it possible to renounce to U.S. citizenship?

Each year, many American citizens living abroad renounce to their U.S. citizenship.

Renunciation is the voluntary relinquishment of the citizenship or nationality. It is the opposite of "naturalization", where a person obtains citizenship. On the other side, "denaturalization" is the involuntary loss of citizenship after Federal Court proceedings initiated by the Federal government.

Renunciation is irrevocable, as provided in section 351 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S. Code 1483 and cannot be canceled or appealed.

Pursuant to the Section § 349(a)(5) of the INA, 8 U.S. Code 1481(a)(5), a U.S. citizen can make a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign State, as prescribed by the Secretary of State.

A person seeking to renounce to his/her U.S. citizenship must renounce all the rights and privileges associated with it. On the other side, renunciation has no effect on U.S. tax or military service obligations and does not allow persons to avoid possible prosecution for crimes committed in the U.S., or escape the repayment of financial obligations. Your final tax return will be from January 1st through the day you expatriate. Renunciation of U.S. citizenship may not prevent a foreign country from deporting the individual to the United States.

If you want to renounce to your U.S. Citizenship, you have to make an appointment at the Embassy or Consulate in the country of future residency.

You have to review the renunciation Forms and prepare DS-4079 (Questionnaire, Information for Determining Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship), required by the State Department. Forms DS-4080 (Oath of Renunciation of the Nationality of the United States), DS-4081 (Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship), DS-4082 (Witnesses' Attestation Renunciation/Relinquishment of Citizenship), DS-4083 (Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States) will be required as well.

You will be provided with Form DS-4083, as evidence that you have completed the process. The DS-4083 needs to be approved by the State Department, a process that can take several months.

Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), sections 877 and 877A apply to U.S. citizens who have ended their U.S. resident status for federal tax purposes. You will be considered a "covered expatriate", if you expatriated after June 16, 2008 and if:

  • your average annual net income tax for the 5 years ending before the date of expatriation (or termination of residency) is more than a specified amount that is adjusted for inflation;
  • your net worth is $2 million or more on the date of your expatriation (or termination of residency);
  • you fail to certify on Form 8854 that you have complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the 5 years preceding the date of your expatriation (or termination of residency).

Parents or legal guardians may not renounce the citizenship of their minor children or mentally incompetent dependents. Minors seeking to renounce their U.S. citizenship must demonstrate to a consular officer that they are acting voluntarily and fully understand its implications.

U.S. Courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds. If you renounced your U.S. citizenship before your 18th birthday, you may have your citizenship reinstated, informing the State Department, within six months after turning 18 years old. Renouncing U.S. citizenship is a highly complex task and has very serious consequences. An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the impact of it and direct you in the renunciation process.

Categories: Citizenship
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