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Friday, September 22, 2017

Laws Against Dual Citizenship - Moves and Counter Moves

After finishing Notes on a Foreign Country I returned to another book that I picked up recently:  Dual Citizenship in Europe (2007) edited by Thomas Faist.  This book is 10 years old which says to me that the citizenship laws cited must be checked against the current laws.  Yes, a lot can happen in just one short decade.

What sparked my interest this morning was a reference in this collection of articles to Turkey and Germany.  Germany is a state known for its jus sanguinas citizenship laws which meant that citizenship was transmitted by "blood" and not by place of birth (just soli).  This meant that the children of immigrants and their children were not German at birth and that led to a large population of  resident aliens many of whom were of Turkish descent.  This is not the only country where this has happened:  Japan still has a large population of Koreans who are "special permanent residents" but not citizens.

I note that some of the resident Koreans are descendants of individuals who did have citizenship at one point and lost it after World War II. Today they can apply for naturalization and many have.   In Germany Jewish citizens were stripped of their German nationality before World War II and Article 116 of the German Constitution allows them and their descendants to reacquire German citizenship.  Peter Spiro, an American citizenship scholar  whose books I highly recommend, did so in 2013.

 German citizenship law changed in the year 2000 when a limited form of jus soli was introduced and Turks (and others) were allowed to naturalize under certain conditions.  However, for the most part the German rules against dual citizenship remained for non-EU migrants.  Renunciation of all other citizenships is required in most cases (as it is in Japan).

The renunciation requirement is not always enforceable.  It's hardest to enforce when it's a birthright citizen who goes out into the world and naturalizes in another state since states don't generally inform other states about who naturalizes.  It's not impossible to enforce, however.  One method might be to ask during a consulate administrative procedure like passport renewal for the citizen abroad to produce her residency papers or visa for the state of residence.  From my experience (and let me know if yours is different) consulates abroad don't do this which effectively makes dual citizenship "tolerated."

Enforcing a dual citizenship ban is easiest when it concerns a naturalized citizen.  The receiving state can require proof of renunciation of the prior citizenship before granting citizenship (or making it contingent on the presentation of the necessary documents).  Both Germany and Japan do ask for this as part of the naturalization process.

But that, it turns out, is not foolproof either and Turkey is an excellent example of the kind of counter move another state can make against another state's citizenship laws.  One is the easy reacquisition of a former citizenship citizenship and the other is a special status conferred on those living outside the national territory who have ostensibly renounced  which nonethless allows them to retain most of the rights of citizenship including the right to return and so on.

According to this 2012 EUDO report, in 1981 Turkey changed its citizenship laws and permitted dual citizenship as long as the person who acquired another informed the Turkish government of the fact.  It also allowed Turks to be "released" from Turkish citizenship and then permitted them to have it reinstated once the naturalization process in the other country had been completed.  Neat trick.

The Germans then turned around and changed their law to allow them to unmake a German citizen who had "illegally" taken on another citizenship after becoming German.  And they did.  At least the ones they were able to find. (And how they found them deserves its own post.)

In 1995 The Turkish government created a special status for its former citizens abroad.
"[T]the amendment created a privileged noncitizen status. This status permits holders of a pink card to reside, to acquire property, to be eligible for inheritance, to operate businesses and to work in Turkey like any citizen of Turkey. Pink card holders were only denied the right to vote in local and national elections." (p. 6)
Another neat trick.  One could argue that this is just citizenship under another name. Note that one had to be a birthright citizen of Turkey in order to have this status and  it was "never intended to include the minorities who left Turkey before 1981."  This was primarily about Turks in Germany, not an open door for the acquisition of rights by other former residents and citizens.  Fascinating.

In 2004 Turkey extended some of the rights of these non-resident-sort-of-citizens and they renamed the Pink Card the Blue Card.

In 2017 the Turkish Blue Card is still around.  Have a look at this government website which says who is eligible and what rights and exemptions this status confers.

Question:  Is this an acceptable compromise?  Naturalized citizens can retain the right to return and reside in the home country but they can't vote and they are exempted from things like military service.  Would this be a partial solution to the issue of  citizenship-based taxation?   For those of you who are naturalized, would you accept a status like this in your former country of citizenship? Would you have liked to have had that option?


Inaka Nezumi said...

So sounds like Turkey is giving former citizens the equivalent of a US Green Card?

If the US did that, it would not change the tax situation of a former citizen, since Green Card holders have basically the same tax obligations that citizens do.

Even if it were a tax-free version of a green card, I don't think I'd be interested in it, simply because at my age I'm unlikely to want to move (yet again), and also because I am kind of dependent on the health-care system in Japan now, which works really smoothly. Couldn't afford to give that up for the mess that prevails in the US.

It would be a nice option for my kid, who will be required to choose nationality by age 22. At that age, with most of life still ahead, the more options the better.

Ellen Lebelle said...

Many years ago, when Jean-Marie Le Pen was running for president, one of his platform positions was making dual citizenship illegal. At that time, my thought was that if such a law were passed, I would choose the country not making the choice obligatory, the U.S.
The U.S. has since passed a law that has led to discrimination against Americans abroad in banking: FATCA. I have become more aware of the problems created by U.S. taxation. In the past, it was a mere nuisance, but as I get older, it's become more complicated to save and invest. In addition, American institutions have made it increasingly difficult to retain accounts and invest in the US. I feel as though the United States is forcing me into a corner where I have to choose and, now, my choice would be to lose the US citizenship. And the $2350 fee to do so is adding insult to injury.

Maria said...

Spain does not acknowledge dual citizenship. You are either Spanish or something else. I was Spanish, living in Boston and renewing my Spanish passport at the consulate there. When I was sixteen, I pledged allegiance to the American flag and became a U.S. citizen. In front of the American judge I renounced my former citizenship. When I went to renew my Spanish passport afterwards, they asked me for my green card. I said what I had done, and I wasn't allowed to renew.

After I moved here, I asked for information on my status at the Policia Nacional, which is in charge of issuing Spanish identity documents. They asked if I had renounced my Spanish citizenship in front of a Spanish judge. I said no. They went on to say that Spain does not recognize renouncement of Spanish citizenship in front of any official that is not a representative of the Spanish government. With that technicality, I have kept my Spanish nationality.

Now, I would renounce my American citizenship, because it is not bringing me any benefit. I don't think I will ever move back to the States, and an American passport is suddenly becoming something to keep under wraps in too many countries. My daughter has both nationalities. Under Spanish law, a minor can have dual citizenship, but must choose the definitive one upon reaching 18. She hasn't, and her options to someday live in the U.S. are open. She's also young.

Citizenship is becoming like poker; depending on which card you have, you have a good hand or a bust. And sometimes it's very difficult to choose which card to discard.

Andrew said...

Dual nationality for many is simply a pragmatic necessity, making travel easier or in some cases, possible (e.g., Iranians have to enter Iran on their Iranian passport - and their other passport usually when leaving Iran).

Voting rights are a separate issue, where imposing limits makes sense for those with long-term absences from a country.

Sprudeln said...

I have permanently settled in Germany and would love to have dual citizenship. The main reason I won't renounce my US citizenship is because I need to be certain that I can travel to the US without impediment in case something happens to my aging parents. I don't trust that the US government wouldn't revoke any special status. Just ask the DACA dreamers.

Anonymous said...

Sprudeln: to the best of my knowledge (but you should double check), to renounce US citizenship, you have to go through a renunciation process in front of US officials, and sign official US renunciation papers. Renouncing your US citizenship to another government might not be accepted or even recognized by the US. In addition, even if you officially renounce your US citizenship, it does not officially end your potential liabilities to the IRS.

Andrew: you say "Voting rights are a separate issue, where imposing limits makes sense for those with long-term absences from a country." As an American (with French nationality), I feel strongly that as an American, limiting my rights to vote in the US is an affront to my US citizenship rights. I've been living outside the US for most of the last 27 years. Nonetheless, given how easy it now is to get information (and I'm also a bit of a news junkie), I feel that I'm probably far better informed than most Americans on US foreign policies, and at least as well informed as most Americans on most domestic issues. And as Ellen said, as an American citizen, I'm directly affected by the horrible FATCA laws. And yet you say "imposing limits makes sense for those with long term absences"? I beg to (strongly) disagree. Presence doesn't necessarily make for knowledgeable decisions, and physical absence certainly doesn't always make for ether a lack of knowledge or for a lack of a need to affect the directions or policies of one's birth country.

In fact, limiting voting rights of expats could have a serious anti-democratic effect. Namely, any time any government talks about limiting voting rights to any of its citizens, it's talking about limiting voting rights for all of its citizens. Either all citizens have voting rights, or "voting rights" become an arbitrary concept devoid of meaning.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Nezumi-san: Call it a Green Card Plus Plus. Almost all of the benefits of citizenship - Turks with a Blue Card don't even have to apply for residency. They can just show up in Turkey when they like and leave when they please. I hear you about the healthcare in the US. We are watching the debates closely. Even with Obamacare the deal is much less than what one gets in France or Japan. Without Obamacare and with a pre-existing condition it would be catastrophic. My medication, cancer checkups and treatment for conditions related to my treatment alone would be extremely expensive without insurance. And if the cancer returns better to be in France (where by the way I have paid for years into the system).

Ellen, Yes. this was made clear to me last time we were in France and in the US. Visits to my bank and to Merrill Lynch were extremely frustrating. I am 52 with some savings and a need to think about retirement and no one wants my money because I'm an American abroad. I will write a post about it.

Maria, So you never lost Spanish citizenship even though the consulate refused to renew your passport? Fascinating.

Sprudeln, That is one of my top reasons for keeping my US citizenship. My parents are getting old. As for trust, well, Americans seems to have a great of trust when it comes to keeping their US citizenship or being able to exercise their right to return. I just renewed my passport and this time around they asked for my social security number because there are new rules that say that you can be denied a passport if you are in trouble with the IRS. If you are abroad and this happens how will you exercise your right to return to your country of citizenship if they will not issue a travel document for you? Very worrisome...

Andrew, It can be pragmatic and/or it can be a strong desire to retain ties with a place, family, friends. It can also reamin a strong element in one's personal identity which is often reinforced by the citizens of the country of residence in whose eyes you will always be "l'Americaine" even if you do become a citizen. As for voting rights Anonymous has a good point which is that the home country makes laws that affect citizens abroad. FATCA was mentioned but Brexit is an even better example. It is a travesty that British citizens abroad were not able to vote on this one. My .02.

Eric said...

If you are abroad and this happens how will you exercise your right to return to your country of citizenship if they will not issue a travel document for you?

State Dept. will issue a one-way travel document for you to "go back" to the US. 22 USC 2714A(f)(2). Unlike South Korea, they're even courteous enough to keeping calling it a "passport" on the front cover and leave the scarlet letter Hotel California one-way notation to the inside, IIRC. You just can't return to the country where you actually live afterwards - unless (1) you have another passport AND (2) non-enforcement of 8 USC 1185(b) continues. (2) looks dubious as Republicans push for "biometric exit" (allegedly inapplicable to citizens, but it would make everyone show a passport upon departure, thus leaving an obvious way to enforce 1185(b)).

In 2017 the Turkish Blue Card is still around. Have a look at this government website which says who is eligible and what rights and exemptions this status confers. Question: Is this an acceptable compromise?

Not for me or my loved ones, for one big reason: deportation.

If she were an actual citizen she'd have been out a bit of cash, maybe lost some roles, and she could go get professional rehabilitation treatment. But she's a non-citizen "compatriot", so South Korea revoked her F-4 visa, kicked her out, tore her away from her friends and her doctors, and effectively ended her career. All of these so-called "overseas citizenship" programs let the origin country reserve the right to kick you out if you're not a "good citizen" (pun intended), instead of being forced to stick with you no matter how screwed up you are.

About the only place I know of where this is not a problem is Hong Kong: due to odd historical circumstances, the "rights of citizenship" arise from two different sources (Chinese nationality and local permanent residence); permanent residence is an independent status instead of just a "precursor" to nationality; and undeportability happens to be one of the rights that got allocated to the permanent residence "bundle of rights" instead of the nationality bundle - so an HKer can give up Chinese nationality to naturalise e.g. in Germany but still be undeportable if they move back to HK, and expats can be secure against deportation after seven years without having to give up their citizenships of origin either.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Thank you, Eric, for those clarifications.