A naturalized US citizen who makes a decision to relinquish US citizenship should understand that this matter involves a process. The completion of the official renunciation is not immediate.
Accomplishing, signing and submission of the required consular forms are just the start of a process and there is a time period required for its approval to be an effective renunciation.
In the same way that there are steps to take in applying for US citizenship, there are also certain steps one must take to renounce US citizenship.
An immigrant wishing to be naturalized to become a US citizen must wait until his oath-taking in order to be officially considered one.
In the same manner, an individual who wishes to renounce citizenship or a renunciant is considered to have effectively done so only after the Department of State approves the certificate of loss of nationality.
The naturalization application currently takes some four to six months before the applicant officially becomes a US citizen. For renunciation, the process varies approximately from four months to a year depending on how fast the Department of State issues its final approval on the loss of citizenship.
Pending the oath-taking ceremony, a naturalization applicant who passed the interview and submitted all the application forms is still considered a Filipino citizen and may still use the “green card” for purposes of travel.
In the same manner, the individual who voluntarily renounces US citizenship by executing a sworn statement before the consular officer is allowed to use the US passport pending his/her approval of the application for renunciation by the Department of State.
The use of travel documents as a US citizen while the application for renunciation is pending is still considered valid by the Department of State. In fact, there are specific instructions on the Foreign Affairs Manual (7 FAM 1229) on the use of passport even after the acts of renunciation.
The US consular officer after receiving the signed forms of renunciation is specifically instructed not to cancel the US passport right away but rather they are mandated to keep the passport in the safe place until the certificate of loss of nationality is approved and returned by the Department of State.
During this period, should the renunciant have any need to travel to the United States, he or she can request that the consular officer return the US passport to him/her but only for the specific travel. When the certificate of loss of nationality is approved by the Department of State, the renunciant will then be called to appear before the consular officer and surrender the US passport.
This is the reason why Sen. Grace Poe was still able to use a US passport during her travel despite her act of renunciation. She may have the intent to renounce it but since there is a process she had to undergo before completing the renunciation, nothing is really final until approval by the Department of State.
Taking the oath of allegiance completes the naturalization process. In renunciation, the final act of approval by the Department of State completes the renunciation. However, unlike naturalization, renunciation is retroactive to the date of the voluntary act of renunciation and not the date the certificate of loss of nationality is received from the Department of State.
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