Renunciation of Citizenship

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What Is Citizenship?

Citizenship refers to the status of a person that grants them certain rights and privileges under the laws of a state or nation. A person with U.S. citizenship (called a "U.S. citizen") is entitled to various rights such as:

Citizenship can be obtained through several means, such as by birthright (i.e. being born in America) or through the naturalization process for immigrants. Being a citizen may also involve duties, such as a duty to serve in the military if necessary.

What Is Renunciation of Citizenship?

Renunciation of citizenship is where a U.S. citizen renounces or gives up their citizenship, along with the corresponding rights. This can happen for instance if the person is relocating to another country and wishes to be a citizen of a different country. Some countries do not grant citizenship unless the person renounces their citizenship in other countries. Thus, renouncing U.S. citizenship may be a requirement for obtaining citizenship elsewhere.

In order to renounce U.S. citizenship, the person simply needs to file the required forms at with a U.S. diplomat while they are in a foreign nation. This usually occurs at a U.S. embassy in that country. Once the renunciation is processed, the person no longer has any of the rights or protections for U.S. citizens. They still need to settle any debts or legal obligations they picked up while they were a citizen of the U.S.

What Are Some Alternatives for Renouncing Citizenship?

In some cases, there can be other alternatives to renouncing U.S. citizenship. One common way to retain U.S. citizenship is to obtain dual citizenship. This is where the person remains a U.S. citizen, but then becomes a citizen of another country at the same time. This is not available in all situations and may also require extensive proof in the filing application.

Another option is to get a reinstatement of U.S. citizenship. This is where the U.S. immigration authorities allow you to get your U.S. citizenship status back after you’ve already renounced it. This may be available in very specific and limited circumstances. An example of this is where there is a miscommunication in the immigration requirements when relocating to another country (for instance, they required you to renounce your U.S. citizenship when in reality it was not necessary).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Citizenship Issues?

Citizenship matter can sometimes be complicated. You may wish to hire a qualified immigration attorney if you have any questions or concerns regarding U.S. citizenship laws. Your attorney can help you if you need to file any claims or applications. Also, if you need to make an appearance in an immigration court, your lawyer can be on hand to represent you.

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Last Modified: 03-27-2014 10:19 AM PDT

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