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Backtrack
28th Jul 2004, 20:29
From The Daily Telegraph, 28th July 2004:

Dual citizenship: a passport to trouble

I should have been on holiday in America this week, with my husband, Johnnie, and youngest daughter, Tilly, 14. We were planning to spend two weeks in Martha's Vineyard and arrived at Heathrow on Saturday for our 3pm flight to Boston, full of the usual excitement. Several hours later, we were back home, parcelled in red tape, and I am still seething about it.
The problem began as we queued to check in. A Securicor official was asking all passengers for their passports and tickets. My husband's and mine were given a cursory look and then stickered. Our daughter's passport was whisked away and shown to another official; we were asked to leave the queue and move over to the Securicor desk.
"What's the problem?" asked Johnnie.
"Your daughter was born in America. She needs an American passport to travel."
"Don't be ridiculous, she's our daughter. We're British. She's lived here for 12 years and we've travelled to America endlessly with her. She went to New York with her mother just six months ago. She doesn't own an American passport. She's a little girl."
"Then she needs documents to prove she is no longer an American."
"But she isn't American."
"We need proof."
"Who needs proof?"
"We are employed by Virgin. It's a regulation."
"But Tilly went to New York six months ago and it was fine."
"Was she travelling Virgin?"
"Thankfully not," I replied. "British Airways."
"Different rules may apply."
Tilly has lived in Britain since she was two. She is legally entitled to dual nationality, but we have never bothered to exercise this right and, once her US passport expired, she has only ever travelled on her British one.
"If I can get someone from the embassy on the phone to explain, would that help?" I asked, sweetly. "I'm sure there's been some simple misunderstanding."
"You can do that," the first gentleman said, in a tone that implied it would make no difference to the outcome.
Eventually, with a little help from a well-connected friend, I got through to a voice of authority from the American Embassy. She explained that we had two
options open to us. Either we could go to the embassy on Monday and get Tilly an American passport, or else she could renounce her American citizenship. A new law, it seems, states that if you are entitled to an American passport or have dual nationality, you must travel on it. But not all airlines enforce it. Or, indeed, inform you when you buy your ticket that the law has changed.
"You could try British Airways," a Virgin rep suggested. "They're a much bigger airline and they seldom enforce this rule. It's just silly red tape," she confided. "If they do get fined, they don't seem to mind."
The woman from the American Embassy rang back. "I just thought you ought to be aware that if your
daughter decides to renounce her American citizenship, it will take slightly longer than just getting a passport, because she will obviously require counselling."
"Counselling? What on earth for?"
"To make absolutely certain this is not a decision she is being coerced into. I'm really sorry for all this inconvenience and I realise it's ruined your holiday plans. I don't see the point in it either, but it's just awful red tape."
The helpful Virgin rep came back. She could get us on to a British Airways flight, much later in the afternoon, but only in first class at an additional cost of 12,000. Eventually, we admitted defeat. Our holiday was over before it had even begun.
On Monday morning, Tilly and I spent six hours at the American Embassy and, fingers crossed, having paid $70, filled in copious forms, sworn under oath and produced a copy of her American birth certificate by next Tuesday, she should be the owner of two passports.
When she next travels to America, she will have to exit and re-enter Britain on dual nationality, or she will be breaking the law. The embassy informed me that "we were lucky" we weren't picked up before and that part of the problem was the fact that this change in the law - which came into effect last October - gets very little publicity.
So now we're off to France instead. The only counselling that will be required is anger management for me and my husband.
Sarah Standing

av8boy
28th Jul 2004, 20:59
The embassy informed me that "we were lucky" we weren't picked up before and that part of the problem was the fact that this change in the law - which came into effect last October - gets very little publicity.

Uh, no. The requirement for a valid US passport under these circumstances was signed into law October 25, 1994. October, sure. But last October? No. (Of course, I could be missing something here, but I don't think so...)

For those with an interest, the legislation I'm looking at is PL 103-416, codified as 8 USC 1185(b). Prior to the 1994 change, the law said, "...it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid passport." The 1994 change inserted the words "United States" after "valid."

Not defending the rules... just trying to be accurate.

Dave

christep
29th Jul 2004, 05:41
Is the problem here that the daughter for some reason took a US passport when she was young? Surely if she had taken a British passport as soon as she was born then she is solely a British Citizen?

Or is it the case that being born in the USA requires you to take US Citizenship rather than just giving you the option to do so?

If I was this girl I would renounce the citizenship as soon as possible, and certainly before she hits the other big problem, which is US tax on all her income. Frankly I can't see why anyone living outside the US would choose to have US citizenship if they have almost any other option.

richterscale10
29th Jul 2004, 07:17
I'm glad that I read your story - I have a daughter born in the US and now we are living in the UK.............she did have a US passport originally - but, like Tilly has only ever used her British Passport since the US one expired. Her father lives in the States - and last year was the first time that she didnt get over to see him. We have talked about sending her over this fall...........
So - we may have found ourselves in the same predicament as you and Tilly ---------

Counselling ? The whole of the US community need counselling!!!!!!!


THANKYOU FOR YOUR POST.......and I guess we will be off smartly to the Embassy too.......

matkat
29th Jul 2004, 08:43
So much for the "special relationship"just a myth in the eyes of Politicians me thinks!another good reason to stay away from the States.

skydriller
29th Jul 2004, 11:26
...and I thought that they only gave foreign passport holders a hard time when you go to the US of A....:rolleyes:

This is the bit I like ;
The woman from the American Embassy rang back. "I just thought you ought to be aware that if your
daughter decides to renounce her American citizenship, it will take slightly longer than just getting a passport, because she will obviously require counselling."
"Counselling? What on earth for?"
"To make absolutely certain this is not a decision she is being coerced into.

:yuk:

with an attitude like that why on earth have you renewed here US passport......Im guessing it was the easy option.......:hmm:

richterscale10
29th Jul 2004, 11:58
One other point that I forgot to mention is that I prefer for my daughter NOT to travel on an American Passport........
I believe that travellers on US Passports are primary targets for sabotage/terrorism/hijack due to the United States political agenda and would prefer to stay far away from those sort of travel events...................

Wino
29th Jul 2004, 14:27
Christep.

You do not have to pay US taxes on income outside the United states if you don't live in the united states and are a US citizen. Furthermore if you work outside the USA and don't spend more than 30 days or so in the USA as a US citizen (like many expats do) you can bring 70,000 dollars into the USA completely tax free every year and any money you keep outside the USA is untouched....

But the long and the short of it is, if she holds dual citizenship but doesn't live the USA she will never be taxed by uncle sam.

Just more crap from the bash the USA crowd... :* :*

Cheers
Wino

NZLeardriver
29th Jul 2004, 15:02
the legislation I'm looking at is PL 103-416, codified as 8 USC 1185(b). Prior to the 1994 change, the law said, "...it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid passport." The 1994 change inserted the words "United States" after "valid."

Are you sure about this AV8boy?
It is my understanding that when a US citizen goes to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and most of Sth America, they can leave the US, enter these countries, and then re-enter the US with only a drivers license or birth certificate.

Just wanting to make sure about this cos I am flying US citizens in and out a lot and dont want to be caught out if this law is suddenly enforced and me with a handful of drivers licenses.

christep
30th Jul 2004, 03:58
Wino,

That's an interesting statement.

A quick look at the IRS site here:
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p54/ar01.html
shows that the basic principle is:
"As a U.S. citizen or resident alien, your worldwide income generally is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you are living. Also, you are subject to the same income tax filing requirements that apply to U.S. citizens or residents living in the United States."

There are many thousands of US expats in Hong Kong (just an example because that's where I live and I know some of them) who would love to know how to avoid paying US tax. As I understand it, you can claim some credit for tax paid overseas, but there is a limit on how much income can be treated in this way (US$80K?) and in any case you can only credit the actual amount of tax paid, so if you are in a low tax environment like HK then you will still have to pay a substantial amount of tax in the US.

A further symptom of this type of behaviour is that banks in HK refuse many types of investments to US Citizens here because were they to offer them the US Government requires the HK bank to send them details of the investment, refusing them a licence to undertake banking in the US if they do not. This is an outrageous, but typical, example of US arrogance.