When the USA Rejects Your Expatriation

Concept art of an article about Expatriation Rejected: government office desk with lots of paperwork piled up (AI Art)

We’ve helped dozens of US citizens and permanent residents (“green card” holders) give up their US nationality or residence status. This is called expatriation.

While you have an absolute right to give up your US citizenship, you must make your intention to expatriate crystal-clear.

A few years ago, a former client discovered this for himself. After getting a second passport, he made an appointment at a US consulate and filed the paperwork to give up his US citizenship. After a considerable delay, the State Department informed him that it was rejecting his expatriation. [Please note: He did not engage us to assist with his expatriation.]

Does this mean that this gentleman can never expatriate? Not at all. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding this case make the State Department’s rejection of his application completely understandable. We’ll get to that shortly.

Ways to Lose Your U.S. Citizenship

A US citizen loses nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing US nationality:

  1. Being naturalized in a foreign country.
  2. Taking an oath or similar declaration of allegiance to a foreign state.
  3. Entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if (A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or (B) serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer.
  4. ( A) Working for a foreign government as a citizen of that government; or (B) if such work requires an oath of allegiance or similar declaration.
  5. Making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state.
  6. Making a formal renunciation of nationality in the United States in wartime.
  7. Committing treason, attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States.

The overwhelming majority of individuals who voluntarily expatriate do so under options #1 (“relinquishment“) or #5 (“renunciation“). For instance, obtaining a second passport from another country (#1) is a potentially expatriating act. If you choose to expatriate after doing so, that is your right under US law.

What’s the difference between relinquishing and renouncing?

There’s a lot of confusion about the distinction between relinquishment vs renunciation. The net effect is the same: You end US citizen status. But there are some important nuances distinguishing these two forms of expatriation. You can find more information here: relinquish vs renounce U.S. citizenship.

But again, an expatriating act must be done voluntarily and with the intention of ending US citizenship. In Afroyim vs. Rusk (1967), the court declared that the government may not involuntary strip an individual of citizenship. In Vance vs. Terrazas (1980), and in amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law was further clarified.

Simply acquiring a second citizenship and passport is not enough evidence of intent to lose US citizenship. The State Department must also be convinced by a clear preponderance of evidence that is your intent.

So Why Did His Expatriation Application Get Rejected?

The “intent” requirement is what tripped up the former client, who elected not to engage our firm to assist with his expatriation.

After acquiring his second passport, he continued to use his US passport for international travel. He elected to give up US citizenship under the relinquishment option. But the fact that he continued to use his US passport after acquiring his second passport cast doubt on his true intentions.

To expatriate successfully, he will need to make a formal renunciation of US nationality. This will remove any doubt as to his intention and I have no doubt that it will be successful.

What It’s Really Like to Expatriate

The actual process of expatriation isn’t as arduous as you might think.

You’re likely to encounter bureaucratic incompetence and unexplained delays. But giving up your US nationality is a legal right.

You can read more information here about what it is really like to expatriate.

How to Get a Second Passport: 7 Legal Ways

Thinking about a second passport? There are just seven official (legal) ways to get one. Find out which one is the best option for you: How to get a second passport.

Need Help?

We can assist in every phase of giving up your US citizenship or long-term residence. This includes helping you get a second passport before giving up US citizenship.

And if you’re not ready to expatriate, we can help you take advantage of tax breaks in the Tax Code that apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents living overseas.

Schedule a free no-obligation consultation with a Nestmann Associate to see if expatriation is right for you.

On another note, many clients first get to know us by accessing some of our well-researched courses and reports on important topics that affect you.

Like How to Go Offshore in 2024, for example. It tells the story of John and Kathy, a couple we helped from the heartland of America. You’ll learn how we helped them go offshore and protect their nestegg from ambulance chasers, government fiat and the decline of the US Dollar… and access a whole new world of opportunities not available in the US. Simply click the button below to register for this free program.

About The Author

Need Help?

We have 40+ years experience helping Americans move, live and invest internationally…

Need Help?

We have 40+ years experience helping Americans move, live and invest internationally…

As Featured on

Get our latest strategies delivered straight to your inbox for free.

Get Our Best Plan B Strategies Right to Your Inbox.

The Nestmann Group does not sell, rent or otherwise share your private details with third parties. Learn more about our privacy policy here.

The Basics of Offshore Freedom

Read these if you’re mostly or very new to the idea of going offshore

What it Really Takes to Get a Second Passport

A second passport is about freedom. But how do you get one? Which one is best? And is it right for you? This article will answer those questions and more…

How to Go Offshore
in 2024

[CASE STUDY] How we helped two close-to-retirement clients protect their nest egg.

Nestmann’s Notes

Our weekly free letter that shows you how to take back control.