Obtaining a U.S. Visa after Renouncing U.S. Citizenship – The Cloud of the Still Living “Reed Amendment”

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To state the obvious, every non-U.S. citizen must have a visa (or participate in the visa waiver program as a citizen or national of one of the 38 countries such as Chile, Hungary, Estonia, Spain, Monaco, etc.) to enter into the U.S.  There are numerous visas all with different immigration law requirements and restrictions and many which have specific U.S. federal income tax consequences.

A future post with immigration counsel will discuss the type of visas available for entry into the U.S.

To date, I have yet to see any clients not be able to obtain a visa for re-entry back into the U.S.; after renouncing U.S. citizenship.

Importantly, the Attorney General still has the statutory authority to make a determination that a former U.S. citizen is inadmissible under the so-called “Reed Amendment” that was passed into the law in 1996 into the immigration law, Title 8 ((8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(10)(E)) as part of the so-called Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.  That provision, which should be obsolete based upon intervening changes in the tax law, nevertheless provides as follows:

(E) Former citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation
Any alien who is a former citizen of the United States who officially renounces United States citizenship and who is determined by the Attorney General to have renounced United States citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation by the United States is inadmissible.

There are no regulations or administrative guidelines implemented by the US Government agencies to enforce this provision and no former US citizens have ever been found to fall under this category to date.  More posts to follow on this important topic, including federal government reports on its applicability.

Please see also, The 1996 Reed Amendment – The Immigration Law with “No Teeth” and “No Bite”

Can the Attorney General make this provision have “teeth”?  Will it ever be invoked by the government to make a former U.S. citizen inadmissible into the U.S.?


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