Is the State Department Shutting Down Expatriation Appointments in Canada?

 

An interesting conversation is taking place on the FB group American Expatriates. Journalist Serena Solomon from the publication VICE has requested stories from expats describing the emotional effects of renouncing. You might want to go over and take a read as many are quite interesting. It is a public group so I believe one can read without being a member; not sure if one needs a FB account.

 

Earlier today, there was the following comment, which forms the basis for this post:

Tom Paine A question for those in Canada: It appears that few or no renunciation appointments have been confirmed since January of 2016 when they switched to a centralized Renunciation system for all of Canada. Has anybody in Canada received a renunciation appointment in Canada who applied after February 1, 2016. If so, where was the appointment location? Again, I am asking about those who have applied for an appointment NOT those who had pre-existing appointments under the old system. For those outside of Canada, what has happened is that the demand to renounce in Canada is so great, that DOS has created a centralized renunciation system for all of Canada.

 


 
The change to a centralized renunciation system for Canada occurred this past February. A detailed post describing the procedure can be found here.
 


 
From the Globe & Mail:
 

“It’s very clear that there is no particular attempt to make it easier to get out – to provide more resources or expedite the process,” complained John Richardson, a Toronto citizenship lawyer, who has guided numerous Canadians through the complex process. “Toronto may be the renunciation capital of the world,” Mr. Richardson said.

A U.S. embassy spokesman would not comment directly on the reasons for the long wait times, but he confirmed that it currently takes anywhere from 45 days to 10 months to arrange a mandatory meeting, depending on the location. He acknowledged that the process is not meant to be easy, even as the embassy works to “refine” it.

“Due to the serious implications the decision to renounce U.S. citizenship carries, the process is intended to be deliberative in order to permit individuals to reflect upon their decision before returning to execute the Oath of Renunciation,” the official said.

Is this man serious? A 15 month wait is required to contemplate the seriousness of the action? Since only one appointment is now the norm, the wait is from application until the appointment. Sorry, but this is ridiculous beyond belief. The previous policy of requiring two appointments was designed to accommodate this perceived need to reflect. I originally scheduled my second appointment a week following my first. Seven days. Point being, there was no huge wait necessary before. What could possibly justify the difference between waiting a week and waiting 19 months for an appointment? Are there that many people renouncing and if so, why does the Federal Register not reflect those numbers? We know the Federal Register falls short of what is reported on the FBI’s NICs list. Something just doesn’t add up here (in more than one way).

The original attitude of the Toronto consulate back in the last quarter of 2011 was to try and accommodate the new surge of people applying. I remember phoning Mrs. Anderson at the Consulate for an appointment in late October and she told me it would have to wait until the 2nd appointments of those 22 people were finished. My first appointment was November 30, 2011.

An interesting comment from Kevyn Nightengale:


Over a year and a half before this change of procedure (November 4, 2014), Stephen Kish had a most interesting discussion with 2 members of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto.

I had conversations with the C-G and two Consular officials on the wait time to obtain a renunciation meeting in Toronto.

This evening I attended a Toronto meeting of students, Democrats, Republicans, and Toronto US Consular officials which was sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs. U.S. Consul General James Dickmeyer gave a short speech and I had conversations with the C-G and two Consular officials on the wait time to obtain a renunciation meeting in Toronto.

Consular Official “R” — I pointed out to R that there are many Canadians in the Toronto area with unwanted U.S. citizenship who need to renounce this citizenship. R advised that the wait time is now up to September 2015, in part because of a three week or so delay caused by the Pan AM games (yes, you heard that right).

C-G — I then spoke to the C-G, explained the situation that these unfortunate people need to get on with their lives, and asked that since he is the “boss” he needs to reorganize staff duties and shorten the time to a renunciation appointment as bookings are now in September. There was some confusion as he felt that I must have meant September past (I believe that he was unaware of the wait time). Once this was clarified he argued that the boss really does not have that much power and that I should go back and speak to R (apparently the man with the money) which I did (see below).

We debated a few points: C-G feels that citizen-based taxation is not “so bad” as taxes are never owed to the IRS because Canadian taxes are higher (I corrected this impression). C-G complained that Canadians are “only now” coming to renounce. I explained that many are only now finding out that the U.S. considers them to be U.S. citizens. I mentioned our FATCA IGA lawsuit and C-G responded by saying that we will just hurt the banks etc…

Consular Official R (second conversation) — Told R that his boss claims that R has the power to shorten renunciation wait times. R responded by saying that the renunciations are a low priority that do not compare with high priority activities such as passport renewals, and that there will be no change in priority. R advised that Toronto people should go to Calgary or Montreal to renounce. I asked R how would a low income person find the funds to do this.

IRS compliant American — Happened to get into conversation with American very proud of filing tax returns to IRS for 30 plus years and paying no tax. Feeling nasty I asked him what does he think will happen when he sells his expensive house that he has lived in for all these years (now he knows).

Dems Abroad — In a short speech Dems Abroad promised that Americans abroad should not worry about the safety of voting in an election because the information is not passed on to the IRS (I think the fellow was serious). One DA presented to R their approach to FATCA (modify but do not kill). I explained that the Alliance and Republicans Overseas want to kill the entirety of the beast.

There was nothing else for me to say, so I left.

Could an official’s personal perception (negative) have an effect on policy? We have seen before, that the State Department is sometimes slow to follow changes that they are legally required to make. One instance of this concerns the issue of CLNs for reqlinquishment via an expatriating act and intent. This affects thousands of Canadian citizens who relinquished in the late 1960’s – 1980 when case law began to include “intent” as a factor in whether citizenship was lost by performing an expatriating act. The difficulty is that those relinquishants were not advised to come down and apply for a CLN. Since at least the 1940 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the State Department was supposed to issue CLNs (see Section V Miscellaneous – Paragraphs 501 & 502-but this in no way amounts to a a relinquishment being valid only if one has a CLN).

Another post appearing on FB today:

Today (July 13) Just received an email from Milano Consulate saying to contact them in September for the 2nd appointment for renunciation. My first appointment was in April in Genoa – Her lame explanations were that they are backed up in Milano because of all the renunciations from Switzerland being handled and that there are 200 death certificates to handle.

Why such a difference time-wise? Yes, likely more Canadians trying to renounce but less than 2 months compared to over a year? What gives?

At what point would the actions of the State department amount to disregard for the law and the right of citizens to expatriate?

*****

To reiterate, the primary focus of this point is to determine if the State Department is shutting down/seriously limiting the number of renunciations in Canada by making it more difficult/longer to obtain an appointment. In order to verify that, we need to know/ask:

  1. Has anyone who has applied for renouncing in Canada since mid-February received an appointment (your application would have been processed through Vancouver via the email address: CanadaCLNInquiries@state.gov
  2. Has anyone who has applied for renouncing in Canada under the new system actually completed an appointment?

NB: We are NOT asking if anyone has actually renounced after this date because the appointment may have been made before these changes took place.
 

4 thoughts on “Is the State Department Shutting Down Expatriation Appointments in Canada?

  1. Rita Apgar Ribero says:

    I would like very much to say how much I appreciate the work of the Consulate Officer in Genoa. I don’t remember her last name but I know her as Annamaria. She is a truly capable and caring person. I don’t know how she manages to do everything that she does but the Embassies should be staffed only by people like Annamaria. I will write the appropriate office of the State Department to let them klnow what a wonderful Consular Officer they have in Genoa. She really deserves the recognition!

  2. Rita,

    It is very nice to hear that the consulate staff are helpful and that they care Back in 2011-2012, the people working in the Toronto consulate were also like this. One lady in particular, Mrs. Anderson bent over backwards to always return calls quickly, respond to messages and she was extremely supportive. She did not try to sway you one way or the other and she understood what a terrible predicament we were in. In later years, I heard many stories where people were not treated as well.

    She retired about 3 months after my renunciation. I felt incredibly lucky and sad for those who came after as I am sure no one else put in that kind of effort and attention. Such a contrast to the attitude exhibited by the IRS Commissioner of the time, Douglas Shulman, who constantly tried to terrorize us with promises/threats of “this is your last best chance to come forward” – everyone felt like there would be a note from the IRS in your mailbox when you got up the next day. It was a truly terrible time.

    Does this mean that you have renounced?

    Tricia/nobledreamer

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