Renunciation

April 2nd, 2012

I was at the US Embassy this morning to renew my passport; I’ll be traveling in May to attend this workshop (I know! Squeee!) and my current passport expires three days after my expected return to Switzerland, which is far too close for comfort for me – and potentially problematic since US citizens entering Switzerland without a visa need to travel on a passport valid for three months past the arrival date; according to information R dug up for me, my status as a legal permanent resident would trump that requirement, but I don’t like taking chances so off I went to the embassy. The situation has improved enormously since I wrote this post:  I was able to make an appointment and I was in and out in twenty minutes. (Well done, US Embassy in Bern!)

While I was there – and mind you, I really was only in the building for twenty minutes – two unrelated people renounced their citizenship. I didn’t mean to spy, but it’s a small waiting area and you can pretty much hear everybody else’s business. Both people were dual US-Swiss citizens; each had received Swiss citizenship through one parent and US citizenship through the other. Like my boys, like the children of so many of my friends. I couldn’t help but wonder, if the boys grow up here, stay here as adults, will they too see their US citizenship as a burden? And it is burdensome to be an Overseas American, the tax filing requirements alone drive many a US-expat nearly insane with frustration and don’t get me started on bank account reporting requirements; but for me the burden is worth it because I grew up in the US, I’m American in a way my boys will probably never be, and it’s almost impossible to imagine renouncing my citizenship. I overheard the consular officer declaring to one of the people “As of today you are no longer a citizen of the United States” and I thought no, I’m pretty sure I could never do that. But I can imagine my boys, men one day, perhaps doing it. If they live here always, marry Swiss girls…I can imagine, perhaps, one day, my boys surrendering their US citizenship.

That thought makes me terribly sad.