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.

5 Responses to “Renunciation”

  1. Lara on April 2, 2012 2:05 pm

    That is a sad thought, and there are certainly times when being a US citizen certainly tries my patience. But I think you are doing a good job of showing your children the good things about the US, which will hopefully help them to value that side of their heritage. (and hopefully that stupid tax thing will change by the time they are men!)

  2. Tracy on April 2, 2012 2:56 pm

    We were at the Consulate last week to have some documents notarized (for $50 each, wowza!). I wish we were in and out in 20 minutes. The security to get in takes 20 minutes, alone. We had to bring two witnesses and each person goes through security individually. They collect all of the passports first, then bring each person into the security room to be screened and then you are sent to the lobby. I went first, then my husband. Our witnesses followed. After my husband joined me in the lobby, one of the THREE security guards brought us our passports. Though the passport photos share a slight, and I mean slight, resemblance, they gave my husband the passport of one of our witnesses. And this was after they hold up your passport and compare it to your face while being screened. We didn’t even realize until our witnesses came through and we were flipping through our documents. Sheesh.

    I hope your sons retain their citizenship, too. It’s always good to have options!

  3. Jennifer on April 3, 2012 8:11 am

    Tracy – I guess I had about 10 minutes of security to get to the office area – two locations where we had to go through metal detectors and a wanding – but now that we can make appointments it is much better, since we get bumped to the head of the line when we show our appointment slip. So it’s something. Sorry to hear you were there forever. I certainly remember those days. It took about 3 hours to get Boychen’s first passport paperwork dealt with when he was an infant. That was the BEST.

  4. Betsy on April 16, 2012 2:01 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately. The Netherlands is close to passing a law which says that anyone applying for Dutch citizenship will have to renounce their current citizenship before they can become Dutch citizens. My kids and I will be grandfathered in and thankfully we can keep both passports. But I just keep thinking about what I would do if faced with that kind of decision. Like you said, since I was born and raised in the States I can’t imagine ever giving up my citizenship. Having a European passport makes life and travel here so much easier but not enough that I’d be willing to give up my US citizenship. I’m not sure what our boys would choose, though. Both the US and the Netherlands make up such a large part of who they are– thinking about them being forced to choose between either one of those countries makes me sad as well! Let’s hope it never happens!

  5. Arturo on July 2, 2012 8:35 pm

    It doesn’t always jeottsin the US tax issue straightaway, but for the folks who want to renounce perhaps a section on countries that offer easy second passports via family ancestry they’ll still need a good quality visa waiver passport for travel.For example in Ireland you need only one grandparent born in Ireland for an Irish passport, a UK grandparent will get you a lifetime work permit for a (check for any age limits) and then you can get a UK passport after 5 years (3 if you’re married to a British citizen) and if you have a UK born parent there’s a good chance you’ll get a UK passport as well, it’s suprising how many Americans do not realise they’re eligible for second passports based on past 20th century immigration into the US this figure must be easily in the tens of millions for EU passports.If you check there’s a number of EU countries that haven’t abandoned the children of their emigrates. Also for those who don’t know when you’ve got an EU passport from one country it allows you to live / work visa free in the other EU 26 plus Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.Don

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