June 21, 2010: Can A Person Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship?

Can A Person Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship?

If I want to willingly give back my Naturalization, can I do it? If so, how can it be done?
— Anonymous

Generally, a native born or naturalized United States citizen may lose their citizenship by voluntarily relinquishing it through an act of expatriation.

For example, a person may make a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship in front of a diplomatic or consular officer on a Department of State form. When a person has lawfully naturalized, s/he cannot lose their U.S. citizenship without a determination by the Department of State that citizenship was voluntarily relinquished. Furthermore, the expatriation is only allowed when the U.S. government can prove that the expatriating acts where done voluntarily and with the intent to relinquish citizenship.

On the other hand, a person may be denaturalized through revocation of their naturalization. This may occur if a person is found, by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that s/he is a member of or affiliated with certain subverse, communist, or anarchist organizations, or if the person concealed material evidence or willfully misrepresented information when applying for naturalization, or illegally procured naturalization, or was removed form the U.S. Armed Forces due to something other than an honorable condition.

There are very specific statutes under the immigration laws and case law that explains the requirements for denaturalization. It may be wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys