Dianne didn’t know the United States still thought she was an American

The phone rang this morning.  For a few minutes, my actual phone number was on the blog, by mistake, and one very quick reader, Dianne, phone me from Winterpeg.  Not long ago, she learned that the United States still considers her to be an American, even though she hasn’t believed herself to be American since the age of 18.  So I asked her to write up her story so that the Isaac Brock Society could help her sort out this issue.  Here it is:

I was born in the USA in 1957 to two Canadian parents. My father was working on his Phd there and they returned to Canada when I was weeks old.  Since then I have never lived in the US.  I do not have a US passport or social security number.  I have never voted in the US and do not own property there.  I have lived and worked my entire life in Canada.  It was my understanding when I turned 18 (in 1975) that if I did not actively seek American citizenship I would be considered only Canadian.  I was shocked to hear that the IRS may consider me American. I am interested in finding our how to clarify that I am not an American citizen.


111 thoughts on “Dianne didn’t know the United States still thought she was an American

  1. Unless the US is going to go through birth certs from every US State and waste money on “McCarthyism” style tracking you down – sleep tight. There’s a limit to this US cititzenship based taxation.

  2. @Petros, I am afraid she is a US citizen. Unfortunately if you are born in the United States thinking that you are not a US ciizen does not make you not a US citizens or cause you to lose your US citizenship. I wonder where she obtained the information that if she did not actively pursue US citizenship she would be considered Canadian when she reached 18 years of age? Certainly under Canadian law she was considered Canadian but under US law, she is considered by the US to be an American citrizen until she formally renounces her US citizenship before a US consular official located outside of the United States.

  3. @John and Dianne – If you have a Canadian passport that says your place of birth is U.S.A, and if FATCA requires Canadian banks and other financial institutions to report the accounts of U.S. born persons to the IRS, then I would suggest Dianne consider relinquishing her U.S. citizenship. If your passport doesn’t say born in the U.S.A, then I would carry on and not worry at all. Then, when banks start complying with FATCA, just say you were born in Canada.

  4. I also acquired US citizenship through being born to parents completing post doctural work in the US. We moved back to Belgium shortly thereafter and we had no idea that I was a US citizen until I was 14. It is simply ridiculous to grant citizenship to somebody simply due to being born in a country whilst the parents are on a student visa. Citizenship should only be automatic if the parents were citizens, or at the very least, permanent residents. Jus solis citizenship is an abominiation and doubly so when the US variant attaches these kinds of complications to somebody with little to no connection to the US whatsoever. It is time that the US and the rest of the Americas adopt jus sanguinis citizenship: jus solis citizenship is a dinosaur and almost unheard of anywhere else in the world:

    I wish the above poster all the best and understand only all too well what it is like to be in this situation. I only hope that the US will see sense soon and change their citizenship laws to match the times.

  5. It’s an interesting set of problems. “if I did not actively seek American citizenship I would be considered only Canadian” *is* the practical reality. She won’t be on any US database.

    OTOH over time there may be issues crossing the border, given the US birthplace. She can probably ignore the whole issue, but be aware that she may be told at the border to get a US passport and/or refused admission. Does that matter? Hard to say.

    ‘Accidental Americans’ born here who have never done anything to assert US citizenship should ignore the issue.

  6. @Petros

    She is a US citizen no doubt. She shouldn’t panic at this point but she needs to start following the issues here and probably write a letter to her MP.

  7. @baird68
    But Canadian banks don’t collect/care about birthplace information.


    That remains to be seen. I am reasonably optimistic at the moment though. We should be hearing the latest position of the Canadian Bankers Association soon.

  9. @ Roger, Tim: With all due respect, I think that your responses are superficial. The question of citizenship is also one of the will of the individual. Dianne is a naturalized Canadian citizen who has never wanted nor ever did anything consistent with a desire to obtain or retain United States citizenship. The requirement that she file taxes in the United States is the sort of act that caused the war of 1812. Those who were naturalized Americans were being inducted back into the British navy against their will. Surely, we are not just going to simply sit here and say, Oh I guess she’s an American and that’s that. Indeed, even just two weeks ago, the United States Border Service allowed her to cross over the border on her Canadian passport, just as she has done for the last 50 years or so. De facto the United States has treated her as a Canadian, therefore she is de jure Canadian not American. To say anything is absolute insanity. I understand that this is what the United States thinks, but this is not a unilateral decision on her part. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives her a choice in the matter.

    I wonder Dianne, if you have any American stamps in your Canadian passport. Why all these years did the United States government treat you as a Canadian? Because, my dear friend, you are a Canadian.

  10. You know if this US taxation gets out of control the countries of the world could stop it in its tracks – a US born citizen is listed on the second passport as being born in the country’s capitol city for example, go to the bank open an account job. How is the bank to know?

    The rest of the world is “allowing” the US to get away with this. I would only be half as upset with the US and more upset with foreign governments not protecting their own citizens. Carl Levin and company must be laughing out loud that the rest of the world doesn’t just say NO.

  11. @petros, I fully understand that Dianne never wanted or realized she was a US citizen. I am not conversant with the citizenship laws of Canada, but it may well be that Canada also considers her to be a Canadian by birth. Did she actually have to go through a naturalization process to acquire Canadian citizenship

    According to Wikepedia there are some 30 countries that consider a person born in that country to be citizens by birth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soliS

    I note that Canada is on this list. Does Canada not automatically grant citizenship to persons born in Canada to foreign parents?

    Unfortunately the citizenship and nationality laws of the different countries of the world have little uniformity but when you are in a country that considers you to be a citizen of that country you are governed by nationality laws of that country. And that includes conscription involuntarily for military service in countries in which such invountary service is obligatory. I have heard more than one story of children born in Argentina, who left their as babies, having been conscripted when they went back for the first time and were by this time of military age. I personally traveled to Argentina with a co-worker, a UK citizen in his 60s, who was refused entry because he had been born in Argentina but did not have an Argentine passport. His military status was checked, but it was determined that persons born the year he was born did not have an obligation. He was, however, deported back to Lima, Peru where he lived and had to obtain an Argentine passport from the Argentine counsulate there, before he could return to Argentina. Some countries are even more fussy about this than the US.

    I did not mean for my response to be superficial. If she is not in any US data bases as a US citizen, she should try to avoid getting into any. So far I have heard no cases of US immigration turning back a Canadian citizen whose passport indicates that the person was born in the US, but there is no guarantee that this might not happen, because US law is very clear that US citizens are required to enter and leave the US using a US passport. I would hate to be a Canadian born in the US crossing into the US on the first day someone with authority in the US decreed that this law would start being enforced.

    Or it might be well for her to formally renounce US citizenship. I remember so well that the FBAR law has been on the books since 1970 but it has been only recently been rigorously enforced. It was on the books when I lived in Brazil and indeed when I transferred funds from the US to purchase a house there, and when I later sold that house, I did not file FBAR reports. I had never heard of them, even though US law required that I do so. I now realize that I should have done so. But it is a little late now.

    There was a time under US nationality law a person born abroad was required, to declare which country they wished to have recognize them as their citizen. But that was part of what the US Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional. Now you have to formally renounce your US citizenship in order to no longer have US citizenship. No parent or third person can do it on your behalf; even if you are mentally incapacitated.

  12. @bubblebustin Exactly right. If the citizenship based taxation didn’t matter, the US wouldn’t bother trying to force people like Dianne to acquiesce to their definition of who she is. Let’s suppose that Dianne was a man. And she moved to Canada, and in 1973 when she was 18 years old the United States drafted her into the army. I actually met someone who was a border baby that was drafted by the United States. He refused the call and joined the Canadian military instead. But what if this were Dianne. Would we say, Oh you have to go down to the United States and fight for them in Viet Nam. When her parents were PhD students in the United States when she was born? Give me a break. No one here in Canada would stand for that kind of crap. So why are we letting our people be harassed by the IRS. It is the same question of citizenship. It is just in one case it is military service and in the other case it is taxation. Both are acts of war (with all due respect to Mr. Mopsick–this behavior is classic act of aggression against another country).

  13. The problem in America with the 1% leaving must be much worse than we think. What if some of these people actually fled to Canada with our high tax rates and all? They’d be sending a message. They’re not leaving because of high taxes, they’re leaving cause they think things suck down there.

  14. @ Roger Thanks for your response. I’d like you to clarify the following lines:

    There was a time under US nationality law a person born abroad was required, to declare which country they wished to have recognize them as their citizen. But that was part of what the US Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional. Now you have to formally renounce your US citizenship in order to no longer have US citizenship. No parent or third person can do it on your behalf; even if you are mentally incapacitated.

    Now this is where ex post facto comes in. If you can, can you elaborate when the Supreme Court made this decision and why? The point is that if the law favors the individual, that is all well and good. But a law rigidly and stupidly applied in retrospect against an individual falls under ex post facto prohibitions and is thus extremely unconstitutional and unjust by its very nature. Thus, if the US told people they were no longer citizens, and it cannot turn around today and say that they are now citizens–unless the individual wants that citizenship. To force them to be citizens today against their will just so that they can exact tribute is ex post facto.

  15. @Petros,
    When the US had obligatory military service, foreign citizens resident in the US were indeed subject to being drafted. During the Viet Nam war when we were living in Peru, the Peruvian Congress was considering legislation that would obligate US citizens of military age who were resident in Peru to serve in the Peruvian military. It was a retaliatory law because Peruvian men living in the US were then being drafted into the US Army, and some had been killed in action. In those days not every male Peruvian was drafted, but when the Army needed manpower, it sent trucks with soldiers out to pick up persons of military age anywhere they found them – walking on the street, at the beach, working as a clerk in a grocery store, or wherever. That was how they were selected and conscripted.

    I watched that legislation very closely when it was introduced in Congress, but it was never enatcted.

    By the way, a US citizen born in Argentina who goes back there and gets conscripted gets absolutely no support from the US. As you are clearly warned in US passports if you are traveling to a country which considers you to be a citizen of that country, you cannot expect any intervention on the part of US diplomats to intervene on your behalf if you are arrested or conscripted for military service. The US has no power or authority to interfere with a foreign government’s enforcement of laws with respect to those who it considers to be their citizens.

    Argentina is very tough in this regard. It has only been very recently that the nationality law there has been amended to permit Argentine citzens to renounce their citzenship. And it is still not easy. It must be done before the competent official in Buenos Aries. There is no other way to do it.

  16. As a practical matter much depends on whether Dianne has any interest in entering the US, or how comfortable she is with a very theoretical risk of being turned away at the border.

  17. @Roger, the age 18 + citizenship issue came up today in conversation as well, and I think it is because for a while, in Canada, the person could not be a dual, they had to make a choice – within a certain time period after the age of 18? I don’t remember if it was Canada’s rule or the US.

  18. @Petros, I have not researched this massive change in US nationality law, but I seem to recall that it was the result of a US citizen who became a naturalized Canadian citizen, but did not believe that doing this should cause him to automatically lose his US citizenship. As I recall his case went up thrlough the US court system to the Supreme Court which ruled in his favor, stating that Congress had no Constitutional authority to deprive anyone involuntarily of US citizenship. All citizenship laws that were contrary to this Supreme Court ruling were judged unconstitional and therefore null and void. That was when the concept of the requirement that a person had to formally renounce US citizenship in order for it to be effective. That was a big change.

    When we lived we had a number of American friends who were Christian missionaries there. Many of them had children born in Brazil and I recall that there was often mention of when they reached 18 they had to formally chose to opt for either Brazilian or US citizenship. As I understand it that was a US law because under Brazilian law if they were born there they were Brazilian and had to use Bazilian passports to enter and leave Brazil. But opting for US citizenship, which back then most of them did, they had US passorts to enter and leave the US.

    We still maintain contact with many of them as do our adult chldren. They grew up and went to school togtether in Brazil

  19. @Roger, re; “So far I have heard no cases of US immigration turning back a Canadian citizen whose passport indicates that the person was born in the US, but there is no guarantee that this might not happen, because US law is very clear that US citizens are required to enter and leave the US using a US passport.”

    I found an article “Border Crossings trip up travellers with latent tax liabilities” by E.Buscaglia and E. Martin, in ‘The Lawyers Weekly’ March 19, 2010 (I can’t attach an excerpt, but you can search the title on the web for it – and I found a copy here; Border Crossing and Tax Liabilities
    it describes the problem with travelling on a Canadian passport with a US birthplace. It also goes on to touch on CLNs, and ties in the taxation issue.

  20. Thanks for the article: “Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the U.S. to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter the U.S. unless he bears a valid U.S. passport.” 8 USC 1185(b). Thus, as I said, the border guards have de facto recognized Dianne’s Canadian citizenship by permitting her to lawfully enter and leave as a Canadian on her Canadian passport. This means she is not US, otherwise, she would be breaking the law.

  21. @Roger
    I believe the Supreme Court case you refer to was in 1980 and it resulted in the 1986 Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Law regarding ‘voluntary and intent’ to relinquish.

  22. I should mention that article is full of b.s.: “The WHTI may be the cause for many new U.S. citizens to begin filing U.S. tax returns.” LOL. That’s what they want. The article makes it clear that the US is trying to trap tax payers, and that is the only reason for the WHTI. But what they are going to get and what they want are not the same thing. What they are going to get is a lot fewer Snow Birds and Winter Texans. What they are going to do is not get more taxes, but to stir up resentment towards the United States that hasn’t been here in Canada since the last time they invaded Canada in the War of 1812.

  23. @Dianne and all
    I think that Dianne should read all that she can on this site but most definitely not panic. And do not start to back file income tax returns. The worse case scenario in my opinion is that Dianne might eventually need to file for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. I do not for one minute believe there is any obligation to file American tax returns with the IRS.

  24. @Petros, I suspect that push to shove, the decision of a border immigration officer to allow a person born in the US entering the US with a Canadian passport would not constiute an official decision by the US that the person is not a Canadian citizen. Clearly allowing such a person to enter the US with a Canadian passport is a violation ofthe law you have cited. But getting by with speeding witout the officer issuing a traffic ticket does not mean that you can continue speeding with impunity.

  25. @tiger, If Dianne did not file any US tax returns and she would have owed no US tax had she filed. Then she is not subject to any tax return non-filing penalty, as I understand it. But if she had foreign bank accounts or signature authority over foreign bank accounts that exceeded the threshold value that requred filing, that is a different matter. Here there are severe non-filing penalties, so she needs to tread very carefully in this area. Some in her very same situation in trying to “get legal” have been severely burned. I would certainly hate to see her fall into this trap.

  26. @All,

    Where does precedence play a role or why does it not in crossing the border? The US has turned a blind eye for decades to this and our non-filing of US tax returns.

    The border guards the US hires to protect their border are ignoring what is US law each day by letting 99.9% of Canadians born in the US through on our Canadian passports. (They did however harass me into obtaining my first and only US passport in 2009 by saying the next time I entered the US it was to be with a US passport, my tolerance for risk being close to zero.)

  27. I think whenever possible it’s best to avoid dealing with humans (especially border guards that can do things just on a whim). That’s why it can be helpful to have a Nexus card. You almost never have to talk to a border guard.

  28. Thanks so much for all of the posts. In terms of crossing the border – I am afraid that I have a very low tolerance for being pulled over. I do want to freely enter the US as my brother and his family live there. I would find it extremely difficult to miss weddings, funerals, etc. My problem is the I am a very law-abiding citizen. My accountant describes me as his most squeeky-clean client. Unfortunately I am near retirement and have been busy accummulating RRSPs. I would not be happy to give the US any of my hard-earned savings. Regarding the chosing citizenship at 18 years – I remember my parents telling me about this. My father is now deceased and my elderly mother’s memory is not great – so I cannot find out the details. My mother did find a letter from the Canadian consulate General in New York stating that “once registered she will be recorded as a Canadian citizen by birth under Section 5(1)(B)”. I , also, have a Certificate of registration of birth abroad. I am not sure what significance these are. I do not want to be rude – but at this point I am not interested in being an American. Any suggestions as to how I should proceed now?

  29. @Dianne, I can totally understand why you are a Canadian citizen, which you were from the moment of birth in the US to Candian parents, and how you interpreted this to mean that you were not a dual citizen of the US. The “recording” of citizenship by birth was the formality of recognizing your Canadaian citizen, but you were indeed already a Canadian citizen.

    The realities of dual citizenship have only become apparent in more recent years and you have indeed by caught in these shifting citizenship sands. As a US citizen I don’t want to recommend what you should do because it might be the wrong thing. But some who have also gone through the same experience are probably in a better position to do this. But do not do anything hasty until you have good solid information.

  30. @omg
    I have a friend, Canadian citizen born in the U.S., when applying for a Nexus Card in Canada, was told that as she was born in the U.S., she needed to apply for the card in the U.S. That would most definitely create a problem for Dianne.

  31. My suggestion is to do nothing that you have not been doing, wait indefinitely to see what happens, and endure the limbo and uncertainty in the meantime. Welcome to the club of Brock. The club where getting out through that exit door, even for squeaky clean compliants in Canada, appears to become evermore fraught and parlous and abusive. No way can you be squeaky clean when confronted with a two-faced slimy tentacled monster that only wants to pursue you and latch onto you. Bad dream. Sit tight.

  32. @ Roger : I think that a major stink can be made in a court case against the US position, if a person wanted to prove that he is not a citizen. Consider that if you travel using a US passport your claim to have relinquished your citizenship is belied by your actions. Thus, the government must be held to the same standard. If (1) the government permitted you to travel into the United States for forty years on a Canadian passport that was clearly marked with US place of birth, and (2) there was a law that said you may not travel to the United States on a foreign passport if you are a US citizenship, then the government has tacitly agreed with the assertion of the foreign citizen that he is not a US citizen. Thus, the United States’ action permitting the foreign citizen to travel into the United States with a foreign passport is a tacit acceptance that that person is not a United States citizen. Why should a government be held to a different standard than an individual.

    Remember, the United States’ only interest in this forcing US citizenship on people is to increase its revenue base. Therefore, non-US citizens must fight this tooth and nail. And we should be getting a lot more help from our governments.

  33. @Dianne,
    Your situation is not unlike many of us on this site. I was American born but first came to Canada as an 18 year old, ‘landed’ here as a twenty-one year old, and became a citizen of Canada 40+ years ago. So like you my Canadian passport has a U.S. place of birth. I, too, have siblings, nieces and nephews in the U.S. I would like to be able to continue to visit them.
    At this point, ‘we’ are not being turned away at the U.S./Canadian border. So you will be able (at least in the short term) to visit family in the United States.
    Again, I repeat what I said in an earlier post, I believe it would be a travesty for someone like yourself to either enter a voluntary disclosure program or even to start filing U.S. tax returns and other forms going forward. Of course, none of us wants to be hassled at the border or feel we are doing something ‘illegal’, like not filing income tax returns. But I do believe it is important that we ‘wait and see’ what our government will do to protect us from the ‘big,bad wolf’ south of the border.

  34. @ Tiger You do well to advise people in your situation and Dianne’s not to file. Thank you. I was telling her the same thing on the phone today. You’re also right that it is a feeling that the beast wants us to feel, that we’ve done something wrong. Dianne hasn’t done anything illegal. She is a law abiding person. The United States is the one who is violating laws: US constitutional law, international law, and natural law–by pursing its so-called citizens to the ends of the earth. It is most greedy and corrupt (by volume of corruption) country in the world. Do not feed the bear!

  35. @Dianne, I know how you are feeling, our son was born in Canada with US mother and was registered at birth with US Consulate. He does not want US Citizenship, has no SSN or Passport. He is a very young guy 29 and we feel the only way to get rid of the US Citizenship is to file and renounce. He also has RRSP, TFSA and Mutal Funds but I am sure it does not come close to what you have saved over the years, and we are worried about the outcome of his savings. I hate it that he is filing I do not want him in the system but am afraid of what may happen down the road . He will renounce and so will I.

    I have been in Canada for 35 years and STUPID ME did not get my Canadian Citizenship..so now I have to wait probably another year to get it before I renounce.

    I am sure my son could just stick his head in the sand and not do anything, but at his age it is probably best to just get rid of the US Citizenship before he moves ahead with his career and savings.. I have been sick to my stomach worrying about this. I hate what this has done to the US Citizens abroad.. It is true crime.. the cost of health and our savings.. THE US GOV. SHOULD BE ASHAMED. NOT THE COUNTRY I USED TO BE PROUD OF!!
    NO WAY!!

  36. Hello Dianne:

    Some advice.

    1. You are in panic mode. Don’t panic. You need to make a decision. A decision is NOT an emotional reaction which is all you are capable of now.

    2. The first question is whether you really are a U.S. citizen. I am going to suggest that you may have very good reason to believe that you are not. Here is why. Let’s start with your facts:

    “I was born in the USA in 1957 to two Canadian parents. My father was working on his Phd there and they returned to Canada when I was weeks old. Since then I have never lived in the US. I do not have a US passport or social security number. I have never voted in the US and do not own property there. I have lived and worked my entire life in Canada. It was my understanding when I turned 18 (in 1975) that if I did not actively seek American citizenship I would be considered only Canadian. I was shocked to hear that the IRS may consider me American. I am interested in finding our how to clarify that I am not an American citizen.”

    Although the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution says that if born in the U.S. then U.S. citizen there are ways to lose your citizenship. These are as follows:


    “USC › Title 8 › Chapter 12 › Subchapter III › Part III › § 1481

    8 USC § 1481 – Loss of nationality by native-born or naturalized citizen; voluntary action; burden of proof; presumptions

    (a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—
    (1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
    (2) taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
    (3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if
    (A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or
    (B) such persons serve as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer; or
    (A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state; or
    (B) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years for which office, post, or employment an oath, affirmation, or declaration of allegiance is required; or
    (5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State; or
    (6) making in the United States a formal written renunciation of nationality in such form as may be prescribed by, and before such officer as may be designated by, the Attorney General, whenever the United States shall be in a state of war and the Attorney General shall approve such renunciation as not contrary to the interests of national defense; or
    (7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.
    (b) Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this chapter or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.

    Now this is the current statute. Prior to 1986 (in other words up to when you were 29 years old), the statute did not require that these acts be performed with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. So, all that was required prior to 1986 was that you voluntarily performed any of these acts. Now, I really find it hard to believe that you did not do a single one of these things before you turned 29.

    To put it another way, if you did any of these acts prior to 1986, then according to U.S. law you are no longer a U.S. citizen. Assuming that you did perform one of these acts, I would simply take the U.S. at it’s word, honour its laws, and agree with them that you are no longer a U.S. citizen.

    If you performed any one of these acts before 1986, you can cry yourself to sleep with the knowledge that the U.S. stripped you of your U.S. citizenship. Of course, the good news is that you would no longer have any obligations to the U.S. I take it this is a position that you could live with.

    Now, do you have children? How might any of this impact on them?

    In any case, I suggest that you do NOT consult anybody but a good lawyer who understands U.S. citizenship law and its permutations through the years. Of course, if you are certain that you have performed one of the above expatriating acts prior to 1986, then there may no reason to see the lawyer.

    What you should NOT DO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES is walk into some law or accounting firm and announce that you are a U.S. citizen (when you may be able to determine that you are not).

    If for some reason that you decide you are a U.S. citizen, then you should under no circumstances under OVDI. OVDI is for criminals. You can’t be a criminal if you didn’t know you had filing obligations in the U.S.

    So, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite and dream about all the things you did before your 29th birthday.

    You might find this interesting:


  37. Renounce: After speaking with Dianne on the phone, I was sure that some of the people here had already studied the issue of US citizenship during the period that Dianne claims to have lost her citizenship. Indeed, the statute that you cite would have been rewritten in 1986 to reflect the recent Supreme Court decision. Does anyone here know how that statute read before 1986 when it was revised?

  38. Thanks for the info. In the mid – late ’70’s I worked for several summers at a Canadian Federal Crown Corporation. I know that they fingerprinted me, however, i do not recall if I took any oath. A lawyer (who specializes in this area) did not think that my summer job would be helpful. My personal inclination is to file my taxes quietly and relinquish my american citizenship – however, my husband and many of you are not in favour of this. So I have agreed to sit tight and am trying to figure out what is the best course of action. My husband may differ on this – but I do not feel that I am panicking – I am just busy gathering as much information as I can. I do not plan to make any hasty decisions. I am not too happy that I have not heard back from my MP, Flaherty or Stephen Harper. I am very appreciative of all of your comments.

  39. Dianne: What is a Canadian Federal Crown Corporation? Are you allowed to tell us its name? It sounds like a government job to me. They fingerprinted you? That is really good. Sound very ominous.

    Your case is very strong for an early relinquishment. Your whole life is consistent with having relinquished, having done nothing that would be inconsistent with that claim (like obtain a US passport).

  40. @Petros

    Prior to 1986 the statute was almost the same but did not have the language “with the intention of relinquishing” U.S. citizenship.

    I could find this, but for now see the following:


    1978 citizenship law amendments (Pub.L. 95-432)

    On 10 October 1978, President Carter signed Public Law 95-432 (92 Stat. 1046; 1978 U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News 2521). This bill repealed several provisions which had previously allowed revocation of US citizenship.

    Some of the provisions abolished by Pub.L. 95-432 had already been rendered unenforceable by the Supreme Court. For example, the bill repealed provisions revoking citizenship for voting in foreign elections (Afroyim v. Rusk), moving abroad following naturalization (Schneider v. Rusk), and desertion from the armed forced during wartime (Trop v. Dulles) were all repealed.

    Certain other provisions were also repealed, however — not because of adverse Supreme Court rulings, but because (judging from the legislative history) Congress appears to have decided these provisions were rarely used and/or were not worth keeping. For example, Pub.L. 95-432 repealed provisions revoking citizenship of foreign-born US citizens who failed to move back to the US as adults (a rule upheld by the Supreme Court in Rogers v. Bellei); children who failed to move back to the US as adults after their parents had lost or given up US citizenship (a weaker version of the rule previously struck down in Perkins v. Elg); and dual nationals who lived abroad and had voluntarily claimed benefits of a foreign citizenship as adults. It should be noted that the abolition of these provisions was not made retroactive; people who had lost US citizenship under these provisions did not automatically get it back.

    1986 citizenship law amendments (Pub.L. 99-653)

    On 14 November 1986, President Reagan signed Public Law 99-653 (100 Stat. 3655; 1986 U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News 6182). This bill amended the INA to conform to the requirements of various Supreme Court decisions on loss of US citizenship.

    The most significant change made by Pub.L. 99-653 was to the preamble of Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 USC § 1481]. The revised wording made it clear that an action, in order to result in loss of citizenship, needed to be performed voluntarily and with the intention of giving up US citizenship. This change brought the law into line with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Vance v. Terrazas.

    Pub.L. 99-653 also revised the conditions under which foreign military service could result in loss of citizenship. Previously, a person could lose US citizenship through foreign military service unless said service were approved in advance by US officials. Also, a US citizen who entered a foreign military service prior to age 18 could lose his US citizenship if he had been given an option by said foreign country to leave its army at age 18, and failed to do so. All this was replaced by a new provision, under which foreign military service would result in loss of US citizenship only if performed voluntarily and with intent to relinquish US ties (see above) — and, additionally, only if the person served as an officer, and/or if the foreign army were engaged in hostilities against the US. Note that the Supreme Court had previously ruled, in Mandoli v. Acheson, that coerced foreign military service could not result in loss of US citizenship.

    Previously, if a US citizen were also a citizen of a foreign country, had spent one or more periods of time in that country totalling at least ten years, and performed any of the listed actions that could result in loss of US citizenship, the action in question would be conclusively presumed to have been performed voluntarily and without duress (i.e., the person in question would not have a legal right to present contrary evidence in a court case). This provision had been put on shaky ground as a result of the Terrazas ruling, and it was repealed by Pub.L. 99-653.

    Prior to Pub.L. 99-653, a naturalized citizen who moved away from the US and set up permanent residence abroad within five years following naturalization risked revocation of his citizenship — on the grounds that his promise (made on the citizenship application) to reside permanently in the US after naturalization had been made in bad faith. This five-year period was reduced to one year. (In 1994, this provision was repealed altogether.)

    For a basic application of this see (I know the facts are different, but it does the irrelevance of intention):

    Richards v. Secretary of State et al., 752 F.2d 1413 (9th Cir. 1985)

    The following Court of Appeals case (one step below the Supreme Court) isn’t nearly as relevant nowadays as it was in 1985, in light of the State Department’s current (and much more permissive) policy on loss of US citizenship.

    William Richards became a Canadian citizen in 1971. At the time he did this, the Canadian naturalization oath included a clause renouncing prior allegiances. Accordingly, a lower court concluded that Richards had lost his US citizenship.

    Richards argued that he had acquired Canadian citizenship only because he needed said citizenship in order to get a job with the Boy Scouts of Canada. Although he conceded that he had made an explicit statement of renunciation of US citizenship as part of the Canadian naturalization procedure, he contended that this action on his part was not voluntary because he had been under “economic duress” at the time.

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Richards’ economic duress argument, observing that he had worked in Canada for several years as a teacher without being a Canadian citizen, and that there was no evidence that he had been forced to leave his teaching job or that he had made any effort to find a job that would not have required him to obtain Canadian citizenship and renounce his US citizenship.

    The lower court found (and the Ninth Circuit agreed) that Richards knew and understood the significance of the renunciatory language in the Canadian naturalization documents. Although Richards would have preferred to keep his US citizenship, such a wish was not sufficient to negate the presumption that he had chosen, in the end, to give up that citizenship. “We cannot accept a test”, the Ninth Circuit stated in its opinion, “under which the right to expatriation can be exercised effectively only if exercised eagerly.”

    It should be noted, by the way, that Canada no longer requires new citizens to give up their other citizenships. The renunciatory language in the Canadian naturalization oath was ruled illegal by a Canadian court in 1973 on technical grounds and was subsequently removed — and Canada has allowed dual citizenship without any restrictions at all since 1977. Hence, the Richards case is generally not relevant to Americans who became Canadian citizens after that time.

    Further, the State Department’s current (post-1990) policy on loss of US citizenship specifically says that taking a “routine oath of allegiance” to a foreign country will not normally be interpreted as showing an intent to give up US citizenship. Contrast the ruling in this case with a very different ruling in a 1991 case, discussed below.


    Assuming the factual predicate (that she did indeed do any one of the things listed), then she should start with a presumption of having lost U.S. citizenship. Legal advice is always advisable, but get a good citizenship lawyer who understands the situation prior to 1980 when the U.S. was stripping people of their citizenship, left, right and center.

    Also, as you point out, Dianne has not done anything which would suggest that she has a claim on U.S. citizenship.

    If Dianne decides that she does not have facts that support the loss of citizenship she should NOT walk in to some law or accounting firm and announce that she has a tax problem. It will be more of a compliance problem than a tax problem. The first step is to evaluate her situation over the last six years and determine whether there is tax liability and why. Then and only then should she decide how to come into compliance.

    Again, OVDI should not be entered unless there is a compelling reason (and I believe this would be hard to find).

    Anyway, this is NOT legal advice, but practical advice for how to get organized.

    Dianne if you are reading this – only go to a lawyer who understands the citizenship issue between 1957 and 1986. You need to ask yourself whether you have done one or more of the things described in the statute. Secondly, don’t just pick a tax lawyer out of the phone book.
    Be careful who you work with on this.

    But, after all of this, my guess is that you have little to worry about. If the U.S. were to go after you, then why not Boris Johnson?

  41. @Petros

    Federal Crown corps are entities like CBC, Via Rail, and the Bank of Canada. In the past CN, Air Canada, Telesat Canada, and Petro Canada were all crown corps too.


    My sense is to hold tight for right now. I agree with the suggestion of find a lawyer who understands the citizenship laws from 1957 to 1986. Unfortionately I suspect one will be very difficult to find. Many cross border “professionals” tend to be of the mold of trying to find very simple answers to very complex problems. I also want to repeat the suggestion of friend of site Stephen Mopsick who was a long time IRS attorney. Basically he said one of the worst things to do at this point for someone who has never filed returns or hasn’t since the 1970s is start filing them out and sending them one. At this point I believe you are going to have hold tight as uncomfortable as that may seem. They are a lot of people involved with this issue and the number are growing by the day.

  42. @Everyone

    On the subject of Steven Mopsick I want to congragulate him for being named to American Citizens Abroad tax advisory panel today.

  43. @Everyone

    In case you were wondering other friend of the site Phil Hodgen is already a member of ACA’s tax advisory panel.

  44. @ ax How can she pass US citizenship to her children when she isn’t even a US citizen. Come on people.

    Citizenship is also a question of what Dianne wants and what claims she can make. Since she worked for the Canadian government, she has a good claim that she relinquished her US citizenship under this point:

    (4)(A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state;

    She did this very thing and it is a potentially relinquishing act. She has done nothing to indicate a desire to retain her US citizenship. Thus, it should be a open and shut case in favor of her relinquishment in 1970. One problem with the law, is that the person who is naturalized as a child may never commit a relinquishing act. But if the CDN citizen goes into the Consulate and claims to have committed a relinquishing act and the Consulate refuses to recognize that act of relinquishment, the United States is waging war on the citizenry of Canada and the vast majority of us have no idea what is going on.

    Dianne is a Canadian. We are not going to let the United States claim her. She is not a US person. Her act of relinquishment is already of fait accompli. The US government will have to launch a lawsuit if it wants to try to prove she is a US citizen, and if they try to do that here in Canada, they will be laughed out of court. The citizenship claims of the United States on this person are patently ridiculous.

    The same hold true of the person I met who was a border baby and was drafted by the US during Viet Nam. When he joined the Canadian military he committed a relinquishing act and his loss of United States citizenship was a fait accompli. Dianne case is no different since she worked for the Canadian government in crown corporation. At least this is how I see it, and this is what she should fight for.

  45. @petros, you are correct that Dianne could not pass US citizenship on to her Canadian-born children because there is a requirent in US citizenship law that she would have to have resided in the US for a certain minimum number of years in order to be able to do that. Since she only resided there for a very short time after her birth before her parents took her to Canada, she would fall far short of that minimum time for passing US citizenship on to Canadian-born children.

  46. @ Roger Yes that’s right. Thank you.

    I wonder however if you can see this one point: Renounce pointed out that the immigration act pre-1986 did not have the language, “with the intention of relinquishing” United States citizenship. This means that if she had applied for a US passport pre-1980 and she admitted to having worked for the Canadian government, her passport application could have been refused, and likely would have been. Thus, she is not a US citizen, because she has never had the intention of being a citizen: so whether the act was pre-1986 or post-1986, she has effectively relinquished her claim to be a United States citizen.

  47. @petros, Indeed she never applied for a US passport and had she done so it would have been refused on the basis that she had performedn an expatriating act and indeed was not a US citizen. It does sound like a solid argument to me, a layman, but really don’t know for sure if it would stand up. The best thing is for her to stay clear of the IRS, I would think.

    Perhaps I am beiing over optomistic but since FATCA and FBAR overkill enforcement has broght into focus issues that have never been seriously addressed before, I am hopeful this focus may bring these issues to the forefront. I am not predicting it will happen, but hopefully enough sticks of dinamite are being placed to perhaps bring the monstrous policy of citizenship-based taxation into focus of other countries whose citizens, by their dual US nationality, are being so adversely affected. Switzerland is a mere mouse compared to the elephant United States, but the fact that Swiss citizens resident in the US are having their Swiss bank accounts closed down would seem to me to be a pretty disturbing action for that government which rightly prides itself in the excellent relations it maintains with its expats everywhere in the world.

    Let us all work toward this, which is the basis of almost all of the problems with FATCA and FBAR.

  48. @Dianne

    On this thread you have just received some of the best advice that money CANNOT buy. The reason is that nobody here has any interest in generating fees from you.

    If you go to a lawyer and he/she tells you something different, would appreciate it if you would post that advice here. As Tim points out that are very few lawyers who understand the law of U.S. citizenship from 1957 to 1986. One must have actually lived it to understand it.

  49. @ Dianne, here is another citation from a lay expert, writes regarding 1986 law that changed the presumption of loss of citizenship. Note what he says about conditions which existed previously:

    Previously, if a US citizen were also a citizen of a foreign country, had spent one or more periods of time in that country totalling at least ten years, and performed any of the listed actions that could result in loss of US citizenship, the action in question would be conclusively presumed to have been performed voluntarily and without duress (i.e., the person in question would not have a legal right to present contrary evidence in a court case). This provision had been put on shaky ground as a result of the Terrazas ruling, and it was repealed by Pub.L. 99-653.

    So before 1986, the United States would have stripped you of your citizenship and you would have no means of presenting contrary evidence.


  50. Also regarding 1978 law change: Did you vote in a foreign election before 1978?

    1978 citizenship law amendments (Pub.L. 95-432)

    On 10 October 1978, President Carter signed Public Law 95-432 (92 Stat. 1046; 1978 U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News 2521). This bill repealed several provisions which had previously allowed revocation of US citizenship.

    Some of the provisions abolished by Pub.L. 95-432 had already been rendered unenforceable by the Supreme Court. For example, the bill repealed provisions revoking citizenship for voting in foreign elections (Afroyim v. Rusk), moving abroad following naturalization (Schneider v. Rusk), and desertion from the armed forced during wartime (Trop v. Dulles) were all repealed.


    [Apparently, the Supreme Court had already made that law unconstitutional in Afroyim v. Rusk, in 1967. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afroyim_v._Rusk However, this is the summary of the ruling:

    The court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that “Congress has no power under the Constitution to divest a person of his United States citizenship absent his voluntary renunciation thereof.”

    Thus, voting in foreign election was a potentially expatriating act, provided the person’s intention was to relinquish US citizenship. This should go in Dianne’s argument, provided that she voted before the law was changed in 1978.]

  51. Dianne google Monty Python ‘How not to be seen’

    also remember what Steven Mopsick has said

    “The whole issue of the IRS chasing after Canadians through treaties and foreign litigation is a red herring which is not going to happen. The IRS has enough trouble going after all the low hanging fruit it has in front of its nose inside the United States to even think of expending valuable resources on dubious, expensive, divisive and unseemly extra-territorial collection of routine penalties or tax outside the borders of the fifty States,”

    “Phil and I are not permitted to advise you to “not obey the law.” But as Phil’s hilariously funny U Tube Video (which is an early 1950′s US Government civil defense film about what to do in the event of an attack on our fine homeland by way of the detonation of an atom bomb) says–this may be a good time to “duck and cover”!”

    Respectfully submitted,
    30 Year IRS Vet

  52. I was also born in the US in the 60s to Canadian parents. When I moved to Canada as a child the Canadian government actually processed paperwork for me as a landed immigrant. It was only recently that I discovered I was a dual citizen at birth.

    @Dianne – I did not have the patience, energy or money to fight the US government on whether or not they have the right to my financial information. I wanted the freedom to travel to/from the US as I too have family there including an elderly parent. Therefore I filed 5 years of tax returns with the IRS plus FBARs then I flew to Calgary (renunciations cannot be done in Winnipeg) and renounced at the US Consulate in late 2011. Then I filed my 2011 IRS return and FBAR. The IRS has processed all 6 of my returns and I ended up paying less than $100 to them in taxes/penalties. This week when I called the IRS I was told that my Social Security Number is invalid which I hope means that my renunciation has been processed.

    I made a choice to do all of that on my own rather than contact an accountant or lawyer. My theory was that I hoped that my costs to the IRS would be less than to tax professionals… The IRS has definitely spent more money on my returns than they collected!

    When I filed the FBARs I knew there was a chance the US Gov could penalize me but I had decided that I would fight them or just not return to the US. I have not been contacted about my FBARs and hope that I never am! I did not have a problem paying the taxes because although I do not agree with it, that is the law of the US that all citizens file returns. However, regarding FBARs, I refuse to pay a penalty for simply saving money in my country of residence!

    I did not like doing any of this paperwork for a country I left 40 years ago but it was worth it for me to have peace of mind that I can go in and out of the US as a proud, 100% Canadian citizen!

  53. big p.s. to Dianne — each of our situations is completely different and I am not recommending anything to you — simply sharing what worked for me. Since I did not know that I was a Canadian citizen at birth, I obtained a US passport and social security number as a young adult which is very different than you. Then in my late 20s I submitted the paperwork for my Canadian citizenship — which because I was a citizen from birth I did not have to do a citizenship ceremony – simply received my citizenship documentation by mail.

  54. I’ve been doing a fair amount of research and may have found some relevant sections.
    INA 1952: b) Any person who is a national and citizen of the United States at birth under paragraph (7) of subsection (a), shall lose his nationality and citizenship unless he shall come to the United States prior to attaining the age of twenty-three years and shall immediately following any such coming be continuously physically present in the United State(s) for at least five years: Provided, That such physical presence follows the attainment of the age of fourteen years and precedes the age of twenty-eight years.
    INA 1972 Amendment: Section 301 (b) Any person who is a national and citizen of the United States under paragraph (7) of subsection (a) shall lose his nationality and citizenship unless (1) he shall come to the United States and be continuously physically present therein for a period of not less than two years between the ages of fourteen years and twenty-eight years; or (2) the alien parent is naturalized while the child is under the age of eighteen years and the child begins to reside permanently in the United States while under the age of eighteen years.
    INA 1978 Amendment: Act of October 10, 1978 (92 Stat. 1046) repealed subsections (b), (c) and (d) of section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, effective as of October 10, 1978.
    This is from a website American Citizens Abroad
    However, I have found these exact references on other sites such as law institutions, etc.
    My opinion, Dianne, is that you are not a US citizen on many fronts. There is a preponderance of evidence clearly showing that you’ve done nothing to ever claim US citizenship, and that you have lost it in several different ways.
    Now, to be honest, I have special interest in proving this, as I, while born to US parents, came to Canada as a small child, and became a Can citizen while a minor, so it’s in my best interest to interpret the various INA acts and amendments to my advantage – NOT a US citizen.
    Just so you know, Dianne, I am not filing US taxes, NOT filing FBARs and am sticking to my guns absolutely that I am not a US person. However, I do understand that each of us must do what feels right personally. Whatever your choice, you’ll find support here, I have no doubt of that.

  55. @outragedcanadian, Was this modified by later legislation to invalidate this loss of citizenship? Even if it was, there is certainly a solid argument that a person who met the criteria when it was the law of the land lost US citizenship.

    How could citizenship be restored by subsequent legislation with neither the person’s knowledge or consent?

  56. @ Roger That’s where the ex post facto comes into play. A later law cannot be retroactively applied to detriment of the wishes of a citizen. It is a constitutional right.

  57. Outraged wrote:

    Now, to be honest, I have special interest in proving this, as I, while born to US parents, came to Canada as a small child, and became a Can citizen while a minor, so it’s in my best interest to interpret the various INA acts and amendments to my advantage – NOT a US citizen.
    Just so you know, Dianne, I am not filing US taxes, NOT filing FBARs and am sticking to my guns absolutely that I am not a US person. However, I do understand that each of us must do what feels right personally. Whatever your choice, you’ll find support here, I have no doubt of that.

    Good for you. I think this makes it much harder for the IRS to stake claim against you. First they must prove that you are a did not lose your citizenship as you have claimed.

  58. @Petros, does the
    “cannot be retroactively applied to detriment of the wishes of a citizen. It is a constitutional right” apply to all laws, or just to citizenship laws?

    I ask this question because when President Ford signed the Tax Reform Act of 1976 on October 5, 1976, the effective date of that Act was retroactive to January 1, 1976. Was that unconstitutional?

    That is the tax law that “sent me packing’ to move back to the US from Brazil, which I did in January 1977. There was a lot of grumbling about that law because it brought several hundred thousand American living abroad back home. It’s effective date was in fact delayed by one year by subsequent Congressional action, but that did not happpen until well over a year after its original effective date. The reason was not because it had been enacted retroatively but because it caused such complete caos with Americans abroad that Congress had second thoughts about what it had done. But the damage had already been done.

  59. @Roger, most of the laws do contain dates when they are effective, and from what I’ve read, it’s almost always from that date forward. I have found some that explicitly said they are NOT retroactive. I don’t have the references handy right now, but I’m fairly confident that they cannot be applied retroactively. Or, at least that’s my position.

  60. @Petros, and the way I read all this is that if the US wants to claim me, it’s on THEM to prove it. I cannot see them going to such lengths for such a tiny minnow as myself. Imagine all the work involved to prove that they can re-claim the hundreds of thousands of us…I don’t think it’s feasiblle.

  61. @Roger, 1994 amendment: – Amended Section 324 (d) (1) allows former U.S. citizens who lost their citizenship through failure to meet the former conditions of physical presence in the United States to retain their citizenship to regain their citizenship without having to file an application for naturalization.

    — If they had to REGAIN it, then they LOST it. —

    From US department of State Foreign Affairs manual:
    The intent of Congress in repealing Section 301(b) is made clear in The Report of the House Judiciary Committee (House Report 95-1493) which stated that Congress desired to repeal the section
    prospectively in order not to provide a basis to restore citizenship to those who lost their citizenship prior to enactment of the bill.

    However, I am well aware that almost everything depends upon who’s doing the intrepreting…

  62. @outragedcanadian, is it retain or regain? You did use both words and so please check and re-clarify. Thanks! This is very helpful. But you are so right, it depends on who is doing the interpreting.

  63. @saddened123; re; “I hate what this has done to the US Citizens abroad.. It is true crime.. the cost of health and our savings.. THE US GOV. SHOULD BE ASHAMED. NOT THE COUNTRY I USED TO BE PROUD OF!!
    NO WAY!!”

    Hang in there @saddened. I’m glad to see your sparky spunky side showing!
    : )

  64. @Badger, Thanks for your support!! This situation we are all in is pure crap!! Hate It!

  65. I am amazed and humbled that so many of you have taken the time to write comments. I am very grateful. In terms of the voting question – I have voted in Canada both federally and provincially. Unfortuately according to my research there were no federal elections between 1975 and 1978. Pierre Trudeau was in power from 1974 – 1979. There was a provincial election in Manitoba in the fall of 1977. I do not know if voting in a provincial election is enough.

  66. @outragedcanadian
    As I understand the 1994 Amendment, the US offered to those persons (like myself who became Canadian in 1972), who performed an expatriating act, the right to ‘reclaim’ U.S. citizenship if we could show we had not ‘intended’ to relinquish.
    In fact, I have a University friend, who became a Canadian in 1974, was sent a CLN in 1982 (without asking for it) and then decided in the early 1990s that she might like her U.S. citizenship back. She filed for it, told them she had only become a Canadian in order to obtain a particular job with the Ontario government as she needed to support her two sons (as a single mother) and she now has her U.S. citizenship back. Bet she regrets it now!

  67. @Roger, I read it to mean that if they didn’t retain their citizenship by meeting the conditions of residence, then they could regain it.
    This is another site (an immigration law firm’s site).
    ‘However, as persons who have previously lost citizenship for failure to comply with prior retention requirements may now regain their citizenship by taking the Oath of Allegiance, the issue is no longer as significant as it once was. ‘

    However, obviously I am certainly no expert, and I have a particular slant/bias I’m looking for. I’m not sure if all of this can even be legally used, and it is probably dependent upon a person’s particular situation. I think only a good lawyer well versed in the issue (as others have stated) could say for sure. It’s all mixed up with children born abroad to US parents, children born in US and then taken as minors to other countries, etc. I’m finding it difficult to get a really concrete, defined answer for my situation.
    But it bolsters MY personal belief I’m Canadian only.

  68. @Tiger, thanks for that real case scenario!
    @Dianne, this site is a sanity saver, for just that reason..
    @Saddened, probably because I was so young when I left the US, I didn’t have any feelings about it as my birthplace. I do now, and they’re not good, unfortunately. However, I think I can understand your feelings, as my mother, I believe, feels much the same as you. From what I’ve read here, and from others I’ve talked with, there is a prevailing sense of betrayal. For me, the anger I feel does a fairly good job of battling the depression of being caught in this situation. Let’s keep our chins up and fight in each our own way.

  69. @outragedcanadian, You are right we should keep our chins up and fight. I also feel lots of anger, I don’t really care about what happens to me. I just hate that it is dragging our children into this. As I see it, it is a no win situation. They either have to comply or stick there head in the sand. Which is the best?? Either way it may bite us in the A@@.

    I wake up 10 times or more a nite, it is more than a nitemare..it is hell.. I admire the one’s that are strong and just don’t let it bother them.. I have alway been a easily frightened and nervous person. I know it is not the end of the world, but it is just a miserable way to live right now. I don’t think I will ever complain again after this nitemare. I just wish it would go away..

    Must just keep fighting! Thank God for this site, so many wonderful people.

  70. @Diane, You may want read my life story here on Brock. I was born in 1956 in Florida. My husband (Canadian born, US citizen through his father, never lived in the US) and I decided to enter 2011 OVDI, (still in process) because we at the time felt our own circumstances required it. My MP has taken up our cause and I am using my voice to the best of my ability. I don’t want to give up my US citizenship under these circumstances, but do not I wish to be a citizen of a country that would do this to its people. You are going to die on a hill, you have to decide for yourself which one you can live with.

  71. @Dianne, Sorry for rambling on about my situation.

    Dianne, I think you will get alot of good advise here.. I glad you came to this site. You have lots of friends here.

  72. @saddened123;
    Re: “I wake up 10 times or more a nite, it is more than a nitemare..it is hell…” That’s not rambling. Don’t apologize.
    You’re not alone. I will try to think of you when I’m awakened by this too! Hang in there.

  73. Dianne. Don’t worry if voting in a provincial vs. federal election is ‘enough’. You are Canadian. Rest easy. Forget about it. Sleep well. They can’t and won’t bother you.

  74. The tale of Tiger’s university friend, about ten comments above in this thread, reminds me of this occasional Catch-22 PhilDickian one-more-twist thought:

    Over the past decade or two, the United States has created a nightmare for itself and its deemed persons, by intricating into a situation where no one can be allowed to relinquish or renounce because all are under duress and therefore cannot make a compulsion-free decision. If anyone is allowed to exit, the exit cannot be real, because the way back can always be reopened with a subsequent claim of having felt compelled …

    The flip side of the Hotel California syndrome, if you will. You can always check back in, no matter what. Even if the country isn’t Canada and you’re not Conrad Black.

  75. I think its criminal the way that the US changed its nationality law to automatically give citizenship back to those who lost it. Mass forced re-naturalisation should not occur in a democratic country.

    When I was born I obtained Belgian-Italian citizenship jus sanguinis. At the time Italy expressly forbade dual citizenship except for cases like me when you were born with it. In 1992 the constitution changed and all restrictions were removed and Italian emigrants who had acquired another citizenship anywhere in the world were given a 10 year window to reapply for their citizenship through the nearest Italian embassy to have it reinstated. If they didn’t apply they weren’t forced to obtain it and if they missed they deadline, well, they missed the deadline then.

    PS Has anyone else noticed how the US also seems to be the only country that, if you renounce, has absolutely no provision for allowing you reacquire the citizenship under preferential conditions? Off the top of my head Italy and Canada allow former citizens to reacquire citizenship after one year’s residence, and the UK even just lets former citizens reapply without any residence requirements whatsoever. I mention this merely because I imagine that, assuming the US dumps FATCA, FBAR and citizenship-based taxation in the future some renunciants might want to reacquire it but they won’t have any way of doing so (Not that I would want it back at this point personally…)

  76. Try to get citizenship back? Never!

    The door hit me in the arse too hard for that.

    Uncle Sam: once a tyrant, always a tyrant.

  77. As far as the US is concerned, voting in a foreign election makes no distinction as to whether it was a Federal, provincial or municipal election. They are all “foreign” as far as the US is concerned.

  78. Roger wrote: “@Petros, does the
    “cannot be retroactively applied to detriment of the wishes of a citizen. It is a constitutional right” apply to all laws, or just to citizenship laws?”

    The Constitution of the United States prohibits Congress from passing ex post facto laws. The basic premise is that no law may be retroactively applied to detriment of the citizen. No one complains when the law changes in their favor. Citizenship would seem to be an advantage, so Congress believes it’s doing you a favor by reinstating your citizenship. But it is not a advantage, it is a disadvantage, and that is why it is an ex post facto law and unconstitutional. It is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that recognizes the right of each person to change their nationality.

  79. Roger wrote:

    As far as the US is concerned, voting in a foreign election makes no distinction as to whether it was a Federal, provincial or municipal election. They are all “foreign” as far as the US is concerned.

    I think that’s correct. Also voting is just part of a total argument: job with Crown Corporation with a strong desire to relinquish American citizen, voting in Canada, became Canadian at birth or a little later, but before the age of 18, never resided in the US, never worked in the US, never voted in the United States, never travelled on a US passport, entered the United States consistently only on a Canadian passport, parents were visa students (temporary residents of the United States- not permanent residents–I think this is an important aspect of the argument); never paid taxes in the United States; never registered any children as Americans; never tried to ever claim any benefits of US citizenship. This means in a preponderance of evidence type argument, any reasonable person will acknowledge that Dianne exited definitively the Hotel California five decades ago.

  80. @all

    I see that there is a lot of discussion about the U.S. “retroactively making former U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens”. I haven’t read all the comments (we are now in the 80s and counting), but here is what I think the situation with this is:

    The law gives U.S. citizens who had their citizenship taken from them by the U.S., the option, but not the obligation to get/take it back.

    Here, is the reasoning.

    Prior to the 1986 amendments to S. 349 of INA, the expatriating acts resulted in the loss of citizenship as long as the act was performed voluntarily. The intention did not matter. So, lots and lots of people lost their citizenship. Many of those who lost their citizenship considered this to be a great loss (and it was at that time). Now, you need to remember why the law was changed in 1986. It was NOT because the U.S. was trying to be nice. It was because of a couple of Supreme Court decisions that specifically said that the U.S. could not terminate citizenship if the person did not intend to relinquish it. This decision followed from the 14th amendment. Now, the 14th amendment has been around for a long time. When the Supreme Court held that the 14th amendment protected one’s citizenship, the court affirmed a fact that was always true (as a matter of constitutional law), but that had not been acknowledged by the U.S. government. This led to the 1986 amendments to the law. But, it also meant that the U.S. had illegally terminated the citizenship of a large number of people. But, now remember that that the court ruled that a person has a right to either retain or relinquish citizenship.

    Therefore, what I understand to be happening is that:

    Those of you who had your citizenship terminated by the U.S., because we did NOT consider your intention, can get your citizenship back (meaning that we will continue to recognize that you are a citizen). But, if your position is that, at the time you performed the expatriating Act, that you were NOT intending to retain your U.S. citizenship, that you have lost your citizenship.

    So, what does all this mean? You are NOT being automatically made a U.S. citizen. But, you have the option to continue to be recognized as a U.S. citizen if you want.

    I am trying to make the point again and again, that the first step for anybody is a consideration of your citizenship status. Obviously the cross border professionals want you to be a citizen. This also a very precise area of law and you need to work with a lawyer with a long term view and understanding of U.S. citizenship law.

    Unfortunately, many lawyers with that “long term view”, have taken that “long term view” to their graves.

  81. @ renounce This is the way I see it too. However, there are couple difficulties to overcome: (1) border guards are telling people that they are citizens, and must therefore travel to US only on a passport. This is like the retroactive reinstatement of citizenship. (2) the Consulate/State Department are also being uncooperative when the person goes in and say, Hey I lost my citizenship years ago. They will sometimes deny that the person relinquished; we know of at least one case where a person went into a consulate and was harassed and told that she was still a citizen, even though she lost her US citizenship several decades ago. Therefore, it becomes a citizenship war.

    Thus, I think a thread like this is extremely helpful to some, so that they can get create legal arguments how they may prove they are no longer US citizens, so that when they enter the consulate they have the best chance for being able to convince State that they have legally relinquished.

    I consider border guards and consular officers to be like airplane pilots: they know how to operate the plane, but they are not engineers. The laws are the domain of legal arguments. The officers enforce the law based on their training and operational manuals, but they are not experts on the citizenship law. We need to arm every Brocker with a knowledge of the law and their rights, so that these bureaucrats stop stripping them of their international and constitutional rights.

  82. @Renounce – very cogent analysis. Thank you. I agree with you completely. My only concern, really, is with FATCA and the banks. I do not believe the iRS would ever find me or if they did, come after me. However, my Canadian passport shows me as being born in the US. If all of that crap the US is growing comes to fruition, I may have to have something that proves to my banks that I am not a US citizen. I think, therefore, that I may need a (backdated) CLN. And that’s where I think I need to have my arguments lined up, and why I’m digging into the quagmire of the history of US citizenship laws and how I have to have lost that decades ago for many reasons.

    @Saddened, I feel for you, I really do. When I first heard about all of this back in early February, I was the same. A constant lowgrade thrumming that could flare into a full grown panic attack at any mention of the US. I had trouble falling asleep. Trouble staying asleep. Trouble thinking about anything other than this. It affected my work, it affected my home life, it affected my friendships (can anyone say ‘obsession’?) For me, I discovered, it calmed down when I made my decision that as a Canadian I will not be bowing down and presenting my neck to the US. Come what may, I will not be filing anything. In an odd way, I’d almost welcome the IRS to challenge me so that I could fight back openly. However, as I’ve mentioned previously on other streams, right now I’m keeping a low profile for the sake of my family and their wishes. You have a difficult road to follow, and I hope you know I wish you the best with that.

  83. If you believed that you had lost your citizenship and then now believe that you hadn’t really lost it, but in fact you really had, it would seem very important that you don’t go and do something like vote in a US election thinking you can change things by voting!
    Imagine this to be a conversation between a US expat and a US border guard and have a chuckle:

  84. @outragedcanadian and saddened, I feel under attack and betrayed by a country that I once had some pride in. Although it’s difficult, don’t let them take your health too. Talk to your doctor (take advantage of what we’re envied for south of the border), but don’t take your BP while doing so. Mine was through the roof and I’m now having to monitor it. I think that a great many of us are depressed over this. Brock is great therapy, but we are the converted.

  85. @All
    I hope we’re not all going to be stuck for life at FIRST BASE! or is it second. I don’t know ==> THIRD BASE 🙂

  86. @all

    Most of you are Canadians, have been Canadians for a long time and will die as Canadians. When you opened your bank accounts nobody asked you for your citizenship. And even if they had you would have answered “Canadian”.

    Now, before I go further, I want to make clear that I believe and would encourage everybody to be compliant with the law. But these law apply to U.S. citizens. They are not written to apply to anybody born in the U.S.

    You are a Canadian citizen and the banks have no reason to think that you are anything but. You have no reason, at least at the present time, to worry at all.

    Now what you need to do is act as the Canadian citizen that you are and only as the Canadian citizen that you are. Furthermore, if you are not a U.S. citizen (and I am talking to you), you don’t do anything that is required of U.S. citizens. This means no voting, passports, tax compliance or anything else.

    At the border: I am aware that border guards have asked people born in the U.S., where there U.S. passport is. But, I have not heard of anybody (although there may be one or two) who have been denied entry to the U.S. because they did not have a U.S. passport. Now, please read carefully. Not all non-U.S. citizens are the same relative to the U.S.

    Canadian citizens do NOT require a VISA to enter the U.S. In other words, under U.S. law they can enter.

    Now, let’s get in the head of a border guard. He has two rules in front of him.

    Rule 1. § 53.1
    Passport requirement; definitions.
    (a) It is unlawful for a citizen of the United States, unless excepted under 22 CFR 53.2, to enter or depart, or attempt to enter or depart, the United States, without a valid U.S. passport.
    (b) For purposes of this part “United States” means “United States” as defined in section 215(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1185(c) ).


    Rule 2. A Canadian citizen can be admitted without a VISA.

    Now, the border guard can (and I believe in most cases will) apply rule 2. Why? The rule is easier to understand and the U.S. wants your money.

    Your Canadian passport is proof of your Canadian citizenship. You are denying that you are a U.S. citizen. Simply tell the border guard that you have relinquished your U.S. citizenship.

    Look, I understand that practicalities and that this could be unpleasant. But, a Canadian citizen can enter the U.S. without a Visa. That gives the border guard a reason to admit you and that is what is important.

    For the border guard to do anything else is to assume that once born in the U.S. you are always a U.S. citizen. The existence of 349 of the INA is proof that this is not true..

    I suspect that, at a bear minimum, any border guard would know that is is possible to lose U.S. citizenship …

    Finally, sure get the CLN if you want. Problem is that then you will get them thinking about what you did … So personally, if I were sure I had relinquished, the last place I would go is to the U.S. consulate.

    Also, this is going to blow over. Try to relax, there is going to have to be some directive handed down to the border guards on how to deal with this. I suspect the directive will be:

    If Canadian passport let them in. I would add that the failure to admit Canadians traveling on a Canadian passport would be something that will create friction with the government of Canada.

    But, at the end of the day, they will admit you. They want you money.

  87. I was reading a story about a 4 year old girl in the US who went through security and then decided to hug her grandmother. Well that did it. The security people started to frisk her and she started screaming because she’d just learned about stranger danger.

    The more they touched her the more she screamed. They started referring to the 4 year old as an “uncooperative suspect”. They wouldn’t just let her go through the security screening machine again, saying she needed a complete pat down. She ran all over the airport screaming.

  88. @renouncecitizenship
    Thanks for putting things so concisely. Your explanation agrees with what I have come to believe regarding the nationality law of the U.S. This is also what the Department of State follows and thus they will backdate the Certificate of Loss of Nationality to the date of the expatriating act.
    @Outraged @ Dianne
    As I said above, I am taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. At this time, I really don’t wish to show up at a Consulate office as I know the IRS has no way of ‘finding’ me. However, knowing and understanding the 1986 Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Law has given me the comfort to believe that come what may regarding FATCA and my Canadian financial institution, I can prove to them that I am only a Canadian – NOT A U.S. PERSON.

  89. @renouncecitizenship
    Your post of 10:43 A.M. – again, such good advice. The problem, as I see it is, as yet, border guards have only been told ‘if born in the u.s., then they are u.s.’. They may question you, they may even hassle you, but they still will let you into the country. One friend who crossed at Vancouver airport recently, was told by the border guard “look, lady, you are an American until we tell you otherwise”. This after she explained that she had relinquished U.S. citizenship in 1980. However, bottom line is she did get through and caught her plane
    I will be crossing at a land crossing toward the end of this month. I plan on having with me the copy of my Canadian citizenship record. In that record, there is a ‘renuciatory oath’, signed by me. Of course, I am hoping that all goes smoothly and I am not questioned. But another part of me hopes they do question me. I would like to ‘educate’ the border guard by showing him that renunciatory oath.

  90. @renounce,

    Thanks so much for your reasoning on this. It gives me some comfort in ever again crossing the US border with my son (developmentally delayed and for whom I am denied the right to renounce on his behalf). He has never been registered with the US and I will never go through with registration, social security, etc., etc., for him.

    In hindsight, how I wish I had been better schooled about all these implications when I entered back into the US system by going to a cross-border accounting firm for my advice instead of to an immigration/nationality lawyer and making one damning move after another — filing back US tax returns, obtaining a US passport when I was told that the next time I entered the US it was to be with a US passport, and then, fatally, voting in a US election now that ‘I was again a US citizen whether I thought otherwise previously or not’. Why were you not in my life earlier, renounce?


  91. @all- back in the late 70’s when I was attending college I remember talking with a fellow student who was a citizen of both Canada and the U.S. She had aquired dual citizenship because when she was born her Canadian father was a pastor in a U.S. church. She told me that eventually U.S. law required her to choose which country she would claim as her citizenship.
    I remember her telling me that when the time came that she would opt to claim her Canadian citizenship as her sole citizenship.

  92. @Petros

    Is it possible to make links on the homepage to some of the more recent “external articles” like the one from Atossa and perhaps one or two of the other recent good ones on renunciation?

    I think the most recent external article with a link is “WSJ: Washington’s Assault on American Expats.”

  93. I think the article by McGurn is worth making a link to as well. The canary in the coal mine analogy is spot on.

  94. @Renounce, thank you. I agree with you wholeheartedly and am in no way rushing into anything. I think the need for a CLN is fairly far into the future, for me, so I’m hopeful that something will happen to positively settle this. Like a simple statement from the US govt that those living in another country for more than 10 years (or whatever period) who have not utilized US citizenship are not considered US persons. Probably too simple, though.

    As for dyspeptic, tyrannical border guards, I have stated far and wide, when given the opportunity, that I will never visit the US again. And I mean that sincerely. Who knows what might happen in 30 years time, but at this point I have zero need and zero desire to ever set foot on US soil. Many years ago I had my Canadian passport thrown at me by one who saw my US birthplace and since then the fond feelings have been fading. To the point that now, after all, this there is nothing but ill feelings. Mexico will be getting my vacation money, not Las Vegas. (Sorry, went into my rant, again…)

  95. If one chooses to fly under the radar should they put their house and bank accounts in the name of their Canadian spouse?

  96. @Dianne, not only does that seem like a good idea but a highly-recomended course of action. US citizens living abroad and married to foreign spouses have been taking this precaution for many years to avoid their assets being confiscated by the IRS.

    The US citizens married to American spouses and living abroad don’t have this escape route open to them.

  97. @ Dianne: I wouldn’t. You are now touching the delicate grounds of women’s issues. A woman should have control over her own assets, otherwise she is not liberated. Do you want to get the women’s groups mad at Isaac Brock?

    Since you are not an American, I would suggest the first course of action is to simply write a statement, prepare forms and go to the Consulate and see whether they will acknowledge your relinquishment. If they do, you’re off the hook. If they don’t, then I would get an immigration lawyer and perhaps also get Revenue Canada involved, in order to make a more strenuous and powerful case against your US citizenship. That is, State Department is supposed only to make judgment, but it is far from that last court on whether you are a Canadian citizen only.

  98. @Dianne, I’ve thought of that, as well, but it’s just too extreme for me right now. I also wonder if it’s any kind of protection? Whether the house is in my name or my husbands, according to Alberta law, we own it 50/50. If things get that bad, is not having my name on the house any protection? I also cannot bear the thought, as Petros talks about, of giving up my right to have my name on my house, have my own bank accounts, etc. Having everything in my husband’s name just goes against the grain. But then, again,I am counting on the fact that the CRA won’t try to collect from me (IF the IRS even ever finds out about me), and maybe it’s easier for me since I won’t be crossing the border into the US ever again.
    I guess it comes down to what makes you the most comfortable and gets you through this mess!

  99. Dianne not as simple as that but doable. If you have a rrsp you can’t do it without deregistering. Investment accounts continue (for Canadian purposes) to be taxed in your name under the attribution rules. Putting your house in his name can be problematic.

    I firmly believe it to be unnecessary. I firmly believe you can put it all on the back of the back burner. You are Canadian. Read Renounce May at 9:51 again

    ‘The law gives U.S. citizens who had their citizenship taken from them by the U.S., the option, but not the obligation to get/take it back.’

    I don’t agree with Petros that you should march into a consulate. He chose to wave a flag but you have no need to. You are a tiny minnow in a large ocean. You are safe.

  100. @ Chester Yes, that is an option, until the United States insists that Dianne travel on a US passport and refuses her entry into the United States. Dianne wants access to her family down there.

    Also, I hardly waived a flag (at least not a white one, if that’s what you mean). Remember, I was in compliance and the IRS knew about me. Also I was very clearly a United States citizen until 28 February 2011 when I became a Canadian. The best course of action for me was to finish the course and check out–whether they finally let me leave the Hotel California, that’s another question. Cheers.

  101. @dianne, I would not transfer your property to your Canadian spouse either. If you had started out that way with your income being dedicated to everyday living expenses and your spouses income going to purchase you house and for other investments and savings, so that assets would be in your spouses name, then it would be different. And that is what many overseas Americans did to minimize their tax obligations.
    But doing it retroactively would likely attract attention as tax evasion.

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