Pending Decision – apply for a backdated CLN or wait?

I’ve been going back and forth the last few weeks trying to decide if I should apply for a backdated Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN) from the US State Department. One of the questions is the date of my actual relinquishment. I swore an oath of allegiance to the Queen and Canada when I was almost 16, and received my certificate of Canadian citizenship in January 1976, when I was 16. According to the US’s Immigration and Nationality Act, a minor cannot relinquish US citizenship.  However, I also signed another oath of allegiance in 1984, at age 24, when I began working for the federal government. I think the 1984 date would have to be the one I ask for, although, in my mind, I relinquished US citizenship back in 1976, and the oath in 1984 was only a confirmation.

If a backdated CLN was approved, it could give me much need peace of mind, and also provide me with a piece of paper to prove to my banks that I am not a US citizen. This would also give my mother and sister some peace of mind, since their relinquishments are much more straightforward than mine. If I successfully obtain my CLN, they may not even have to apply for theirs, as they would then have ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that they successfully relinquished their US citizenship back in the 70’s.

I do think that a CLN or a ‘reasonable cause explanation’ will be required. I no longer believe that my government is going to protect my rights by telling Canadian banks they cannot commit an illegal act in order to abide by the laws of a foreign country (FATCA).  It may come to a class action suit against a bank, or several banks, or even a challenge to the government, but I think the damage will already have been done to thousands upon thousands of Canadians by that point.

If a backdated CLN is denied it could bring me to the attention of the IRS sooner rather than later.  Then again, sooner or later we all will find our way onto the IRS’s radar, so perhaps it would be best to just get it over with. Other people have received backdated CLN’s to the 70’s and 80’s, so that proves that the determination is based upon the laws in force at the time of the relinquishment action.

Why not just wait? It’s not just living with the uncertainty, although that’s painful enough. I’m also concerned about how difficult it may become to obtain a backdated CLN in the future. If enough requests are coming through the US State department, they may make efforts to slow down the process, or to make it much more difficult to attain a CLN. After all, the IRS looks on the retroactive reclaiming of former citizens as a way to increase revenue (even though that’s been proven to be a fallacy).

There are four main points in the US’s Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that give me hope that a backdated CLN would be approved:

  • “A national who within six months after attaining the age of eighteen years asserts his claim to United States nationality, in such manner as the Secretary of State shall by regulation prescribe, shall not be deemed to have lost United States nationality by the commission, prior to his eighteenth birthday, of any of the acts specified in paragraph (3) and (5) of section 349 of this title.”
    I did NOT assert any claim to US nationality after turning 18.
  • “taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after having attained the age of eighteen years; “
    I DID swear and sign an oath of allegiance to Canada and the Queen when I was 24.
  •  “accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after attaining the age of eighteen years, if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state; or (B) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after attaining the age of eighteen years, for which office, post, or employment an oath, affirmation, or declaration of allegiance is required;
    At age 24, I DID swear an oath and accepted, served in, and performed the duties of employment in the Canadian federal government.
  • “Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after the enactment of this subsection under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.”
    I signed two oaths of allegiance voluntarily, and the preponderance of evidence will confirm that I have acted as a Canadian-only citizen since 1976. The preponderance of evidence would include never having applied for a US passport, never working in the US, never living the US (since I left at age 6), never owning property in the US, and having travelled to the United States and other countries on my Canadian passport.

I need to mull this over for a while more, but my inclination at this time is that I will bite the bullet, fill out the DS-4079 (Request for Determination of Possible Loss of United States Citizenship form, and try to get a backdated CLN.

This site, of course, is my personal story. A while ago Blaze and I started a new site, the Maple Sandbox, which has more resources and links. Anyone looking for less personal information sources, please do go check it out.

4 thoughts on “Pending Decision – apply for a backdated CLN or wait?

  1. I just received my CLN based on the oath I took upon working for the federal government in the 1980’s. My supervisor at the time advised me that the oath of allegiance to Canada could potentially impact my U.S. citizenship. I was therefore aware that I was choosing Canadian citizenship and relinquishing my right to U.S. citizenship. When I applied for the CLN I was required to provide proof of the oath, a copy of which I was able to request through the Library and Archives Canada. I hope you were fortunate to have a supervisor who also discussed with you the implications of taking the oath. All the best!

  2. @SB – thank you so much for telling me this – it eases my mind greatly. The main reason I haven’t applied for the CLN is because I wasn’t sure that oath would be accepted, but obviously it is, if one knew the implications of taking it – which I did. Thank you!!!
    If you check back on this – I wonder if you could tell me if you had to get a notarized copy of the oath?

    • I received a CLN last month (after waiting nearly a year) backdated to 1984 on the basis (attested in a sworn affidavit) that I obtained Canadian citizenship in 1984 and swore an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty with the intention of relinquishing my US nationality and that I acted consistently with that intention ever since. This belief was consistent with the US INA in force at the time, when there was no statutory or administrative presumption of an intention not to relinquish upon committing any of the listed relinquishing acts. (I never renewed my US passport (whic expired in 1982); I have always traveled on a Canadian passport; I have not voted in a US election since 1980; I own no property in the US, etc.). Although slow the process was not especially difficult and my affidavit evidence was not challenged.

  3. @Rob Scavone, thank you for this! I’m beginning to think that I should be okay with applying for a CLN. I’m very happy for you that you’ve got yours and that you’re out of this mess!

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