The race for the White House is in full swing, and the contests to determine who will represent the two major parties in the November presidential elections has not be without its share of controversy. Ted Cruz, for example, brought the issue of renouncing dual citizenship into the primary races when his opponents pointed to his birth in Canada as making him ineligible to satisfy the constitutional requirement of being a "natural born citizen." He responded by publicly renouncing his Canadian citizenship.
As it turned out for former presidential hopeful Cruz, he did not survive long enough in the primaries for his opponents to attack his verbally renouncing dual citizenship as ineffective. Renouncing Canadian citizenship is a formal process, as is immigration to Canada, requiring the filing of paperwork and strictly following procedures and guidelines.
Renouncing dual citizenship as a political statement
Americans holding citizenship in both Canada and the U.S. who want to make a political statement might consider doing a reversal of what Ted Cruz attempted to do by renouncing their U.S. citizenship. Before submitting your paperwork to renounce your U.S. citizenship, there are four factors that should be considered first:
- US Taxes
- Travel and work restrictions
- Loss of right to vote in U.S. elections
- Loss of government protection granted to U.S. citizens overseas
Freedom from filing U.S. tax returns
U.S. citizens must comply with federal laws requiring them to disclose transactions with banks located overseas. Americans with money on deposit in offshore accounts must now report such holdings to the Internal Revenue Service or face hefty penalties. Renouncing dual citizenship would allow a person to retain their Canadian citizenship, and avoid being without a country, while being free of most U.S. tax reporting requirements.
Travel and work restrictions that come with renouncing dual citizenship
Individuals holding dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada enjoy relatively unrestricted ease of travel between the two countries and access to the job markets in both of them. Renouncing dual citizenship makes a person subject to travel restrictions and limitations a country may impose on individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents. For example, a criminal record could make it difficult for a person to gain entry into a country.
Another thing to keep in mind concerning travel restrictions into the U.S. is Immigration and Nationality Act. If the government determines that you renounced dual citizenship to avoid U.S. taxes, you could be denied entry into this country.
Loss of the right to vote
The Constitution grants citizens of the U.S. the right to vote. You might not be happy about the results of the upcoming presidential election, but renouncing dual citizenship will take that right away from you.
Services and protections offered to U.S. citizens
Unless you travel to parts of the world where the protection offered by military or consular services of the U.S. is required, the loss of these protections by renouncing U.S. citizenship while retaining your Canadian citizenship might not be a factor in making your decision.
Consider all of the factors before making a political statement
Renouncing dual citizenship is not something to be taken lightly. Depending upon the circumstances, a person with dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship might be better served through immigration to Canada as a political statement rather than the finality associated with renouncing dual citizenship.