Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Renouncing My U. S. Citizenship, Part 2

י"א לחודש השנים עשר ב' תשע"ד

Read the Prelude: Toying With the Idea of Renouncing my U. S. Citizenship.

Read Renouncing My U. S. Citizenship, Part 1.

Read why Batya won't Renounce her U. S. Citizenship.

1. What to Bring with You
U. S. Consulate, Jerusalem
Well,...today was the day, I was to renounce my U. S. citizenship at the Consulate in Jerusalem, emphasis on the word "was." You'll see why shortly.

As I mentioned in part 1 of the record of this journey of mine to renounce my U. S. citizenship, I had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning at 9:00.

After getting a helpful tip that the Consulate staff prefers to deal with renunciations in the afternoon, I e-mailed the Consulate, saying that although I had already scheduled an appointment for the morning, I did not mind having it moved to the afternoon. The automated reply I received said that they generally take care of any inquiries within 48 hours. That was last week.

Monday afternoon, I finally received an e-mail reply from the Consulate, along with an apology for the delay, rescheduling my appointment for Tuesday at 2:30 PM. I was told to bring...
1. My U. S. Passport
2. Request for Determination of Possible Loss of U. S. Citizenship form (DS-4079),completed, but not signed.
3. I was also asked to read Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481 - Loss of nationality by native-born or naturalized citizen; voluntary action; burden of proof; presumptions, which was e-mailed to me, along with form DS-4079.
With me, I also brought...
3. $450 in sheqqels (NIS 1,620 rate of 3.6 to 1), as this was the fee mentioned for renunciation on the Consulate's website.
4. My Israeli Passport, to prove citizenship in a country other that the U. S., and photocopy*
5. My birth certificate, and photocopy.* I did not need this, but the official accepted the photocopy anyway.
6. Renunciation form (DS-4081), not signed. It must be signed in front of the Consular official.
*I always bring my own photocopies to government offices, in order to save time. This way whoever is helping me does not get distracted or "lost" on the way to the photocopy machine, nor on the way back.
2. How To Get There
Buses 7א and 78א go straight to the U. S. Consulate. Coming back toward the center of town, be aware that you may have to go through the East Talpioth neighborhood first.

Please note. These are the updated routes, as of the massive changes made to the bus routes within Jerusalem, on March 7, 2014/ה' אדר ב' תשע"ד.

Bus Routes to the U. S. Consulate, Jerusalem
Screen shot from Jerusalem Bus Maps
(Click to enlarge)

Many other routes come close, such as the 71, 72, 74, and 75, which run along Derech Hevron, as well as the 7 and the 78, which go to Ramath Rachel and East Talpioth respectively.

3. Security
The guards at the front desk, all Arabs, were given my name, and let me it. I was early, like the instructions on the website said to be, for the sake of allowing enough time to go through security. My habit in Israel to begin most verbal interactions in Hebrew was met with perplexed faces, and so I switched to English.

I had to empty my pockets, before going through the metal detector. No one checked to make sure that I had fully complied. I had to leave my phone at the front, which I had assumed from my previous visits to the Embassy in Tel-Aviv. I was then given directions to cross the courtyard to the waiting room.

Although I had been nervous before arriving, nervous as in the good kind of nervous, I felt immediately relaxed upon entering the waiting room. There was only myself and the Israeli security guard, with whom I chatted until I was called for my interview. I think that the guard was happy for the company. His English was pretty good, but we lapsed into Hebrew, and stayed there.

He could not get over why I would want to renounce my U. S. citizenship. "Doesn't it help you?" he asked. I said that I would be happy to give him the details over coffee, after I had the certificate in my hand. I joked about how our conversation was probably being recorded, although I cannot say that it was.

I commented that there weren't any clocks in the room. He had to look at his screen for the time, when I asked. I cannot tell you exactly why there weren't any clocks, nor how that would or would not effect a waiting crowd.

I was called up at least 15 minutes before my appointment. I was that I was early. I acknowledged this with, "Yes, because the Consulate's website said to arrive early." I also aid that I did not mind waiting. I was told that was fine that we began early.

4. The Interview
In the back I could see mostly Arabs, I think. Just an observation. However the officials with whom I spoke were native English speaking Americans.

I handed in my DS-4079 form, not believing that I had relinquished my citizenship in any way, especially since 2007, when I had renewed my U. S. Passport. Renewing ones passport implies the intention of retaining citizenship. So, any act of relinquishment would had to have occurred after that action had been taken.

Nonetheless, I turned it in with my passport. The form was reviewed, and I was told that I would have to come back after at least a week. U. S. State Department regulations state that a time of reflection is required.

My reflexes kicked in, and "I would like to speak to your supervisor please," was out of my mouth before I knew what I was doing.

This official's supervisor happened to be standing nearby. No one made a fuss, the supervisor just came right over. I told her even if she was simply going to tell me the same thing, that I had no choice but to return, I requested her indulgence over a few questions I had about the renunciation process, including the "required" time of reflection of this decision. She said that it was no problem at all; she was happy to answer my questions, but that it was State Department policy (in the regs.) that returning for a second appointment was required. She also confirmed my suspicions that it was "out of her hands."

I asked the Consular supervisor where exactly a one week period of reflection was written. She took a few minutes to find this on-line and printed it out for me. 7 FAM 1262 Interview with Potential Renunciant: scroll down to page 3, find and read 7 FAM 1262.2 (c) (*Notice that a time period before being able to return is NOT specified.).

The original official then returned, and he explained to me what should happen next in my process of renunciation. He pointed out what he believed were the most important items to point out on the DS-4081 Renunciation form:
1. The renunciation of citizenship is irreversible.
2. Any previous tax burden I may have does not disappear.
3. In time of need, the U. S. still has the right to call me to military service. It was pointed out that Israel would probably not let me go. 
At my next visit I was told to bring...
1. 2 completed, but not signed DS-4081 Statement of Understanding Renunciation forms.
2. 2 completed, but not signed DS-4080 Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of United States forms. (*Can be filled out on-line and printed out.)
3. My U. S. Passport
4. My Israeli Passport
5. $450 in sheqqels (NIS 1,620 rate of 3.6 to 1)
6. A self-addressed, stamped 8 1/2" x 11" envelop, with regular or registered postage, if I chose not to avail myself of the Consulate's courier service.
It was later suggested to me that this time of reflection did not appear to be law, only State Department regulations. So, if I had brought a lawyer, I might have been able to fight it. My guess is that it probably would have taken a week anyway, cost more money, and wasted even more of my time than just accepting the week wait.

The last question I was asked was why I wanted to renounce my U. S. Citizenship. I very nicely pointed out that on form DS-4081 at the bottom, it states "I ⌚do ⌚do not choose to make a separate written explanation of my reasons for renunciating/relinquishing my United States nationality."

The official said, yes, but that refers to a written statement, that I did not have to make a statement, but that the process would probably go more smoothly if I did. The reason for the statement is that this official must include a memo of his with my signed documents to be sent to Washington, DC for final approval.

My answer was something generic about no longer feeling American nor connected with the U. S., and that my decision to renunciate was based on ideological reasons. The official said that was what most people said in their answer as to what they wanted to renunciate. What's done is done. By the way, my answer was most definitely a truthful one. However, I intend to elaborate for you, after the process has been completed, and I have certificate in hand.

He then offered to schedule my next appointment right then and there. But, I said that I had to check with my boss first to see what would be convenient for her.

All in all, I have to say that the officials at the U. S. Consulate in Jerusalem were professional and efficient, but also friendly and genuine. I was not at all treated like a number, possible statistic against their record, nor like some sort of plebeian. On the contrary, these officials treated me like a fellow American and equal, there to serve me, and not the other way around. Even though I no longer wanted to be one of their fellow Americans.

Although I still would rather not jinx it, I anticipated that the next meeting I have at the Consulate will go just as smoothly.

Stay tuned for Part 3, as early as Thursday, March 20!

5 comments:

Rafi G. said...

congrats! you are almost ready to become an MK!!

Batya Medad said...

This post is included in Shiloh Musings: Havel Megillah Havelim, The Poorhim Edition.  Please read all the other posts, comment and share thanks.

I hope you'll take an active role in Havel Havelim and the other Jewish blog carnivals.

Esser Agaroth said...

Rafi G., Great! :-/

Batya, Thanks!

Akiva said...

Does renouncing your US citizenship disqualify you for (earned) Social Security payments?

Esser Agaroth said...

Akiva,

Thanks for commenting.

That's a good question. I suppose I should ask tomorrow when I go in.

I did't bother looking into yet, as I did not work enough in the U. S. to qualify, at least I do't think.

I'll post on this final visit to the Consulate next week.

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