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Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.


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Loss of nationality: How to lose your citizenship

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Dateline: Cebu, Philippines

With all of the madness coming out of western governments today, it’s increasingly common for even the most benign critics of the state to ask “can I lose my citizenship?”

In fact, you can…

An Iraqi-born man British citizen has just been stripped of his British citizenship. And it’s not the first time.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May has made the unilateral decision to strip an Iraqi man naturalized as a British citizen of that very citizenship… for the second time. Rather than hand the man his British passport back after his court victory to have his citizenship reinstated, the Home Secretary merely cancelled said citizenship again.

It’s a chilling example of the powers Big Governments have to screw with their own citizens.

I’ve written before on just how interesting the concept of citizenship is; it’s really just a big genetic lottery. Sometimes you get lucky; sometimes you don’t.

But in an era of Big Government run amok, your “rights” are nothing compared to their unilateral authority to act.

Citizenship is a statist’s favorite crutch. Your merely being born on a certain patch of dirt requires you to fulfill certain obligations: paying taxes, obeying their little rules (even overseas), and more.

If you’re a United States citizen, the miracle of your birth on US soil compels you to pay taxes no matter where you live, so long as you live, until you renounce US citizenship.

Yet the number of cases of the government canceling your citizenship for you are increasing.

Under Britain’s Labor Government, only five British citizenships were cancelled by the Home Secretary. That includes those cancelled under the reign of former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, known to many as the woman responsible for banning talk radio host Michael Savage from entering the country due to his alleged propensity to “incite violence”.

However, since the “conservative” party took over in Britain, twenty Brits have had their UK citizenship revoked by the government under a unilateral, no questions asked, no notification process.

The lawyer of Hilal Al-Jedda, the Iraqi-born man now fighting his second citizenship revokation, calls it a process akin to “medieval exile”.

Citizens of the United States and most other countries have a hard time simply canceling their own citizenship. Countries don’t want to allow their citizens to become stateless, allegedly because they believe they’d still be on the hook for said former citizen should no other country take him or her in.

If you don’t believe me, try walking into any US Embassy with no second passport and telling them you want to renounce your US citizenship.

They’ll likely tell you you’re barking mad.

While there are some cases where you can apply to become stateless, it’s not recommended and it can be very hard to even convince the government to let you do it.

Yet bankrupt, war-mongering western governments are increasingly using the citizenship revocation card as a tool in their tool chest. In the case of the UK, government lawyers have actually argued that it’s not their fault that British citizens would become stateless by having the Home Secretary canceling their citizenship.

I see this as just the latest way that the United States – and other increasingly totalitarian western states – are the new USSR.

Most ironic of all is that Edward Snowden is hiding out in Russia with asylum papers after his home government cast a pall of statelessness over him.

Citizenship revocation is further proof that while governments of the US and UK claim to be the world’s greatest harbingers of freedom, they much more closely resemble the draconian regime of Hitler and Stalin.

While I’m all for letting people opt out of citizenship, I don’t believe the state should be able to force such loss of citizenship upon its slaves – ahem, citizens – after they got to make the rules in the first place.

How to lose your US citizenship

It is possible to lose your US citizenship. While most of the ways to do so require a conscious effort on your part, there is a growing movement in the United States – as in Britain – for the government to give itself great latitude in revoking the citizenship of potentially anyone they please.

The US State Department lists what it calls “potentially expatriating acts” that include ways Americans can cause loss of citizenship through “voluntary” acts, such as:

1. Obtaining naturalization is a foreign state, or taking an oath to a foreign state.

While the US does allow for dual citizenship, it doesn’t really recognize it. No slave master wants to admit their slave got off the plantation. It is possible to get a second citizenship as a US citizen, but if you do it with the purpose of relinquishing US citizenship, they just might cancel your US citizenship. Of course, this leaves a lot of potential discretion to the government to decide just what you did or didn’t mean to do.

2. Serving in the military of a foreign state.

Probably a bit more tame. Countries like Singapore that require citizens to participate in military service don’t allow for dual nationality to begin with (Israel, which has a military requirement, does allow for dual citizenship). There are some low-level and civilian positions which may not lead to loss of citizenship, however.

3. Working a foreign government as their citizen, or if an oath is required to accept the job.

The US government has no compunction requiting its cheap, farmed out consular workers to pledge allegiance to the flag, but please don’t you do it.

4. Conviction for an act of treason.

If you see something, don’t say something. Look what happened to Edward Snowden. Treason has always been a political tool rooted in the idea that citizens are nothing more than property of the state.

5. Formally renouncing US citizenship in a US Embassy abroad or from within the United States.

When you tell them you’re leaving for good, they may actually believe you. You can learn how to renounce your US citizenship here.

6. Refusal to testify to Congress about your “Subversive Activities.

What a way to welcome new US citizens to The Land of the Free. The government actually has ten years after the naturalization of any non-US born citizen to call them in front of Congress to testify… or else. There couldn’t possibly be any political motivations behind this, Mr. McCarthy.

There is also a movement to grant the US government more powers to revoke citizenship for political reasons. Just as alphabet soup agencies like the IRS have the power to cancel your passport, the government wants more latitude to rid itself of “undesirables”.

And while you have to pay $450 to renounce your own citizenship, they’ll just give you a swift kick if they decide to exile you from the country.

The value graph for US citizenship is on the decline. More and more people I meet around the world don’t want it, and more and more people are waking up to see just how financially toxic having it can be.

I don’t believe this will remain unique to the US or the UK. More western countries will eventually turn to greater worldwide taxation – including possibly on expats of all sorts – as they seek to fill up the coffers and tighten their grip on those who dare not fall in line.


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