Federal Register undercounts people giving up U.S. citizenship again: 1,158 published expatriates for Q1 2016

cross-posted from The IsaacBrock Society

One of Brock’s finest authors, Eric regularly posts on the inconsistency of reporting figures regarding renunciation. As far as I recall, he is the first person to bring to light, the contrasting numbers to be found on the FBI’s NICs list, which generally refer to far more than the “Name and Shame List” provided on a quarterly basis by the U.S. Treasury.


The Q1 2016 Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen to Expatriate, as Required by Section 6039G has been placed on public inspection for printing in Thursday’s Federal Register, five days later than required by law. By my count, it has 1,159 names (41 names per full page and 27 full pages, plus 22 names on the first page and 30 on the last page, with no entries taking up two lines this time). Let me know if you get a different count. Correction: As Andrew Mitchel and Haydon Perryman both point out, the actual count is 1,158; there’s an entry on page 7 of the the pre-publication PDF which takes up two lines.

In contrast, the number of renunciant records held by the FBI in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database increased by 1,281 during the same period, from 32,666 at last year’s end to 33,947 as of 31 March (and they added another 860 in April). The NICS renunciant figures have outstripped the Federal Register count of “published expatriates” every year since 2012, with the gap last year growing to more than a thousand — even though NICS only covers 8 USC § 1481(a)(5) renunciants while the Federal Register is supposed to include all relinquishers under any paragraph of 8 USC § 1481(a), as well as some of the estimated five to seven thousand people who file Form I-407 to abandon their green cards each quarter.

All of the people added to NICS definitely paid the US$2,350 State Department fee — twenty times that in other developed countries — which has been in effect for renunciants since September 2014, meaning that Washington D.C. collected at least US$3 million from people seeking to exercise their human right to change their nationality last quarter. The State Department claimed this obscene fee “protects” the right to change nationality — well, that’s one mighty profitable protection racket they’ve got going on there! (And it could have been even more profitable if some consulates weren’t restricting renunciation appointments to an hour a week, leading to ten-month backlogs in Dublin and Toronto.)

Media reports on individual ex-citizens

Here’s a table of nineteen people mentioned by name in media reports as having given up U.S. citizenship since the beginning of 2014; seven of their names are missing from the Federal Register (three out of eleven from 2014 and four out of six from 2015), while for two more — the ones from this year — it’s too early to say whether they’ll show up or not. I’ve also included one person who posted his own CLN on Twitter and later showed up in the list (I haven’t included people who tweeted their own CLNs but didn’t show up in the list).

Names of public figures included in this quarter’s list: South Korean pop singer Alex Kim, who renounced nearly two years ago; and Jonathan Tepper, who said in a New York Times op-ed in December 2014 that his big appointment at the U.S. consulate was scheduled for early the following year. No public figure who spoke to the media about their renunciation in 2016 has yet been included, though this quarter’s list does have one name matching that of a Hong Kong government official who took office recently: Sandra Leung Shuk-bo.

Name Occupation Other
Giving up US citizenship Appeared in
Reason Date
Lu Shu-hao Military Taiwan Service in Republic of China Army January 2014 or earlier No Taipei Times
Sandy Opravil Housewife Switzerland Save her mortgage February 2014 Q3 2014 Newsweek
Roger Ver Bitcoin investor St. Kitts & Nevis Libertarian political opinions February 2014 No Bloomberg
Sophia Martelly Politician Haiti Run for Senate of Haiti March 2014 Q3 2015 Haiti Press Network
Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah Writer Israel Complicated; see source March 2014 Q2 2014 Times of Israel
Sean Cavanaugh Technology Canada FATCA April 2014 Q1 2015 Tweeted own CLN in August 2014
Mona Quartey Politician Ghana Become Deputy Finance Minister of Ghana July 2014 No Graphic News (Ghana)
Alex Kim Singer South Korea Obtain South Korean citizenship & serve in military August 2014 Q1 2016 Herald Business (South Korea)
Nicole Beaudoin Unknown Canada FATCA September 2014 Q3 2014 La Presse (Canada)
Kim Sungkyum Military South Korea Be commissioned an officer in the Republic of Korea Army December 2014 Q1 2015 Kookbang Ilbo (South Korea)
Lin Jou-min Architect Taiwan Take position in Taipei city government December 2014 Q3 2015 Central News Agency (Taiwan)
Rachel Azaria Politician Israel Members of Knesset cannot hold foreign citizenships January 2015 No Times of Israel
Jonathan Tepper Macroeconomic analyst United Kingdom FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements January 2015 Q1 2016 The New York Times
David Alward Politician Canada Become Canadian consul-general in Boston April 2015 or earlier Q3 2015 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Alfred Oko Vanderpuije Politician Ghana Stand for election to Parliament August 2015 No Starr FM (Ghana)
Philip Ryu Singer South Korea Serve in South Korean army September 2015 or earlier No Money Today (South Korea)
Rachel Heller Writer Netherlands FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements even when no U.S. tax is owed November 2015 No Blog (will be included in TV news programme at a later date)
Neil Llamanzares Businessman Philippines Public opinion (his wife is running for President) April 2015 No Rappler (Philippines)
Lee Chih-kung Physicist Taiwan Appointed Minister of Economic Affairs by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen May 2015 No Apple Daily (Taiwan)

Congratulations to all those who made the expat honour roll this term!