Renunciation of U.S. Nationality by Persons Claiming a
Right of Residence in the United States
Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that
“the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”
Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States. Section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481) governs how a U.S. citizen shall lose U.S. nationality. Section 349(a) states:
A person who is a national of the United States whether, by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality:
(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State; or
(6) making in the United States a formal written renunciation of nationality in such form as may be prescribed by, and before such officer as may be designated by, the Attorney General, whenever the United States shall be in a state of war and the Attorney General shall approve such renunciation as not contrary to the interests of national defense.
Renunciation is the most unequivocal way in which a person can manifest an intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Since nationality is a status that is personal to the individual U.S. national, it cannot be renounced by a parent or a legal guardian under any set of circumstances. Those contemplating a renunciation of U.S. nationality should understand that renunciation is irrevocable, except as provided in Section 351(b) of the INA , and cannot be cancelled or set aside absent a successful administrative or judicial appeal. Put another way, renunciation cannot be “taken back”, and it does not merely “suspend” nationality but irrevocably relinquishes it. Consequently, renunciation of U.S. nationality is not a step to be taken lightly and should be undertaken only after serious thought and reflection.
Pursuant to Section 358 of the INA, the renunciation of one’s U.S. nationality does not result in one’s expatriation until the Department of State approves a Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States (CLN). In order for a renunciation under Section 349(a)(5) of the INA to be effective, all of the conditions of the statute must be met. In other words, an individual wishing to renounce U.S. nationality must appear in person and sign an oath of renunciation before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer abroad at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Section 349(b) of the Act provides that:
Any person who has committed or performed any act of expatriation is presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.