The Guard Post Gota’s us citizenship
Posted on June 16th, 2018

By Udaya P. Gammanpila Courtesy Ceylon Today

After the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, dual citizens are barred from contesting presidential elections. Hence, government politicians who suffer from Gota-phobia, spread rumours that the US Government had rejected Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s application for renunciation of US citizenship. Some say, the US Government would sit on the application until the conclusion of the presidential election and renunciation of the citizenship would be accepted soon after.

He will then lose both citizenship and the candidacy. In the backdrop of these rumours, the true legal position and the procedure in respect of renunciation of the US citizenship is noteworthy.


Renunciation of US citizenship is not unusual among American citizens. Every year, more than 5,000 US citizens renounce citizenship for various reasons. Serving in armed forces of a foreign State engaged in hostilities against the USA, formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign State for government employment are two reasons. Most Americans have given up their citizenships because of US tax policy, although most of the countries charge taxes on people based on their residency.

However, USA charges taxes on people based on citizenship. As a result, some people who have never set foot in the USA, pay taxes to the US Government just because they have inherited US citizenship. The only choice available for them to get rid of the US tax burden is relinquishing US citizenship.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 is the governing law in respect of renunciation of citizenship. According to Section 349(a) (5) of the Act, any citizen who wishes to relinquish citizenship can do so without any restriction. However, two restrictions have been introduced by case law. Firstly, if the citizen lodges the application, being in the USA, it will definitely be rejected. That is because he would not have any right to stay in the USA soon after the renunciation as decided in Colon Vs State Department (1998).

Second passport

Secondly, if the applicant does not have any other citizenship, his application may be rejected. After losing solitary citizenship, he will not be entitled for a passport, franchise and many other benefits. In this backdrop, the first step towards renouncing US citizenship is obtaining citizenship in another country. Presentation of a second passport is crucial in relinquishing the US citizenship. Gotabaya has already met this condition being a Sri Lankan citizen.

The second step is collecting requirements mentioned in Form DS4079 to DS4083. Those are Questionnaires – Information for Determining Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship (DS 4079), Oath of Renunciation of the Nationality of the United States (DS 4080), Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship (DS 4081), Witnesses’ Attestation Renunciation/Relinquishment of Citizenship (DS 4082) and Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States (DS 4083).

Thirdly, the applicant should make the renunciation appointment with the US embassy. As the fourth step, he should attend the appointment with two persons to witness his signature. After briefing the applicant about the consequences of renunciation of the citizenship, the documents will be executed. Thereafter, you will be issued with DS4083, Certificate of Loss of Nationality. It is similar to an insurance cover note or a temporary driving licence. It will be later replaced with a permanent certificate issued by the Department of State.

Fifthly, the applicant shall file his final tax return to the US Government covering the period from 1 January to date of renunciation. It is a prerequisite for the permanent certificate to be issued by the State Department. Until then, DS4083 can be used as the proof for the renunciation. Usually, it takes one to six months. If the person has duly filled the tax return, has no assets or liabilities in the USA, the permanent certificate can be received within a short period of time. Gotabaya has no assets or liabilities in the USA.

Gotabaya has no pending legal suits in the USA, even if he has civil or criminal legal suits, those are not barriers to renounce citizenship as decided by US Courts. When US citizens relinquished citizenship to avoid compulsory military service in 1960s, Courts permitted them to renounce citizenship but continued their cases for evading compulsory military service. In the end, they had to serve prison terms as foreigners who were not entitled to rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens.

In the light of above, two conclusions can be arrived in respect of Gotabaya’s US citizenship. Firstly, US Government cannot prevent Gotabaya from relinquishing US citizenship as he has the citizenship of another country, i.e., Sri Lanka. Secondly, renunciation of US citizenship is unilateral and a simple action to be performed by Gotabaya. Soon after administration of the documents mentioned above, he will be entitled to the Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the USA. It is so simple and so quick. Therefore, it must be stated with great responsibility that US Citizenship would not be a bar in any manner for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to contest the forthcoming Presidential election.

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