Over the past 2 weeks, Paul Keating has written a 2-article series regarding US Citizenship, and the implications and procedures to relinquish US Citizenship. I have been following Paul’s articles keenly, trying to glean what information I could, because it is an issue that has been on my mind for a couple of years. Over the past couple of years I have written several articles regarding the possibility of becoming a Philippine Citizen myself.
On June 10, 2008, I addressed the topic for the first time, and at the end of my article I flatly said that I was going to pursue Philippine Citizenship. After writing that, I went and saw an attorney and discussed the possibility of becoming a Philippine Citizen.
Later, on February 25, 2009, I wrote another article about Citizenship, and said that I was considering applying for Philippine Citizenship, but was still unsure. Why the difference? Well, when I wrote the first article, I was really sure that I wanted to do it. Some 6 or 7 months later, though, I was having second thoughts.
In another article, early this year, on January 13, 2010, I again said that I am still considering it.
So, over the past 2 weeks, I have followed Paul’s articles with interest. I have particularly been watching the comments to see what others have to say.
Why am I undecided about this topic? Well, I am a US Citizen. I have no hatred or ill feelings toward the USA. I love the USA, even if I don’t live there. So, why consider Philippine Citizenship? Because I have also come to love the Philippines very deeply. In Paul’s articles, one of the things that there was a big focus on was taxes. Lately, there have been several articles in the news (NY Times, Wall Street Journal and others) stating that more US Expats are starting to relinquish their US Citizenship, because of the US tax bite. Let me say, my internal debate has nothing to do with taxes or anything at all financial. What it comes down to is love of country. My problem is that I love the USA, but I also love the Philippines.
Part of my consideration also includes the fact that I don’t plan to ever return to the USA, I believe I am in the Philippines for good. Oh, I will take vacations outside the Philippines, I am sure, but I honestly don’t even plan to vacation in the USA any longer. I’ve been there… I’ve done that… and I don’t feel a desire to return. So, because I love the USA and I love the Philippines, it is a tough decision. Because I am in the Philippines, and I have lived here for a decade, I have an inkling to become a Citizen of the Philippines. But, I don’t feel right about denouncing my US citizenship either. It is a very hard decision that I have truly struggled with for a couple of years now. I qualify to apply for Philippine Citizenship, and I am sure I would have no problems becoming naturalized here.
What about dual citizenship? Well, there are catches there. For a former Philippine Citizen who became naturalized as a US Citizen (or other countries too), it is a simple matter of filling out a paper, taking an oath, and they will become a citizen of both the Philippines and the USA. However, the Philippine Dual Citizenship law only applies to former Philippine Citizens. If a foreigner elects to become a naturalized citizen of the Philippines, he must renounce his citizenship to other countries as part of the process. As part of becoming a Philippine Citizen, you must raise your hand and say:
I hereby renounce my US Citizenship.
Here is a catch, though. If you say that, the USA does not accept that as being enough to actually give up your citizenship. It is a complicated process to actually give up US Citizenship. However, saying those words is all that the Philippines requires. So, is it possible to be a dual citizen? I believe that it is. You can satisfy the Philippines by saying those words, yet you won’t lose your US Citizenship, because you have not done enough to lose it. However, the USA also has a policy (not a law, just a policy) that by becoming naturalized in another country, that is an act showing that you no longer want to be a US Citizen. Technically, though, they say that you must do certain things to relinquish your citizenship. So, which is it? Technically, I believe that you would be a dual citizen by simply going through the Philippine naturalization process. However, you would also be technically breaking the intent of each country.
So, so, so… what to do? I am still unsure. I have a desire to be a Philippine Citizen. I also want to be a US Citizen. I know that a lot of readers will think that I would be stupid to become a Philippine Citizen. I can already hear it – “what is the benefit?” Well, for me the benefit is that I love the Philippines, and I have a desire to “make it official” – if you know what I mean. I can’t explain it better than that. I also, though, feel a need to make a decision on this, rather than just letting it linger, as I have for a couple of years now.
For those who think I would be crazy to do this, let me say this… for many years, I felt the same. I always said that I would never give up my US Citizenship. It has only been in the past few years, as I developed a stronger love for the Philippines, and become more understanding of the culture here and such that I even came to consider it.
It’s not easy to decide, though, and I can now feel and appreciate the feelings of the millions of immigrants who came to the USA over the past 200+ years. I know that it was a struggle for them to make this decision too.