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How to Appeal a Renunciation or Loss of US Citizenship


Citizens of the United States, either natural born or citizens via the naturalization process, may at some earlier point in their lives decided to renounce their United States Citizenship. Sometimes this is a direct decision, sometimes it is a decision by their parents. The crucial inquiry is whether the citizen engaged in some voluntary act or actions that shows an intent to renounce U.S. citizenship. Via statute, there is a specific procedure that can be used. To use this procedure, a person must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:

  • Appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer,
  • In a foreign country at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; and
  • Sign an oath of renunciation

But, there are other methods whereby one can lose U.S. Citizenship (including actions that may not be intended as renunciations of citizenship). Note that the United States generally allows dual citizenship, so simply being a citizen of another country and the United States is not sufficient to trigger a loss of citizenship. Examples of voluntary actions that may cause loss of U.S. citizenship include:

  • Taking an oath, affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or its political subdivisions after the age of 18
  • Entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the United States or serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the armed forces of a foreign state

When a person commits or performs acts like those listed above, the law presumes that the person has committed or performed the acts voluntarily. However, that presumption can be defeated if the person seeks to challenge loss of citizenship.

Challenging Loss of Citizenship

Under current law, a person who is said to have lost his or her U.S. citizenship starts by seeking administrative review with the U.S. Department of State. If the person presents substantial and not previously considered evidence of involuntariness or lack of intent with respect to whatever actions led to loss of citizenship, the Department may overturn the loss of citizenship. If the determination is not overturned, then the person seeking to appeal a loss of citizenship can appeal to U.S. federal courts.

A leading case is Richards v. Secretary of State, 752 F. 2d 1413 (Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1985). In that case, William Richards was born in California. Later in his life, after the age of 18, he became a naturalized Canadian citizen and, as part of that process, took and signed an oath of allegiance to Canada containing an explicit renunciation of his U.S. citizenship. U.S. officials considered Richards to have lost his citizenship. Richards appealed and, ultimately, the court affirmed his loss of citizenship. There was no question with respect to the actions taken by Richards and there was no evidence to rebut the presumption that his actions were voluntary.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.


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