After writing about how the US allows dual citizenship if the citizen does not intend to renounce their US citizenship I was barraged by comments saying reputable lawyers in Panama have told people that Panama does not allow you to retain your prior citizenship. Since I am considering the option I dug deeper.
If you recall this from the post:
“Potentially Expatriating Acts (under US law)
Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481), as amended, states that U.S. citizens are subject to loss of citizenship if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship.
Briefly stated, these acts include:
1. obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon one’s own application after the age of 18 (Sec. 349 (a) (1) INA);
2. taking an oath, affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or its political subdivisions after the age of 18 (Sec. 349 (a) (2) INA);
3. entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the armed forces of a foreign state (Sec. 349 (a) (3) INA);
4. accepting employment with a foreign government after the age of 18 if (a) one has the nationality of that foreign state or (b) an oath or declaration of allegiance is required in accepting the position (Sec. 349 (a) (4) INA);
5. formally renouncing U.S. citizenship before a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer outside the United States (sec. 349 (a) (5) INA);
6. formally renouncing U.S. citizenship within the U.S. (The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for implementing this section of the law) (Sec. 349 (a) (6) INA);
7. conviction for an act of treason (Sec. 349 (a) (7) INA).
Administrative Standard of Evidence
As already noted, the actions listed above can cause loss of U.S. citizenship only if performed voluntarily and with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. “
The following is the text of what anyone seeking Panamanian Citizenship my sign to start the process.
“It being 10:15 am today November 6, 2013 , was submitted to the office of the Secretary of the Municipal Council of the District of Boquete in the notarial functions Mr. xxxxxxxxx , male , American , of legal age , single , holder of personal identity and passport No. XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX , born State , USA, neighboring District XXXXXXX , XXXXXXX with phone number XXXXXXXXXX , Township of XXXXXXXX , XXXXXXXX Province, in order to make a statement affidavit before starting the respective declaration Council Secretary reads article 385 of the Penal Code which talks about false testimony in court proceedings and the aforementioned lady speak and understand the Spanish language because it does not need such interpreter.
Act followed the undersigned secretary asks the respondent what you want to testify, which indicated the following: I , XXXXXXXXX now declare that I act freely, without coercion , intimidation , no pressure and expressly and irrevocably renounce my national origin and hoped free and spontaneous welcome me to the Panamanian nationality , as I have over five years of living consecutively in the country and I feel fully identified with the Panamanian culture , all of the above I do based on that presented the request naturalization regulated in Law No. 3 of 22 February 2008 and the Constitution of Panama .
No other reason to exist is terminated this affidavit at 10:30 aforementioned day.”
If I read the US statute correctly, the act of signing this declaration voluntarily renouncing US citizenship is sufficient to trigger this clause:
“Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481), as amended, states that U.S. citizens are subject to loss of citizenship if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship.”
You do NOT need to go to the embassy and renounce your US citizenship, you do it under US law by accepting Panamanian Citizenship after renouncing US citizenship in an official document to the Panamanian government.
This therefore under my interpretation of US law means that I cannot accept Panamanian citizenship under the terms of Panamanian law without relinquishing my US citzenship. Whether the US decides to enforce this law is at their discretion, not mine.
Should I accept Panamanian citizenship, the US government at its discretion can take my passport and consider me a Panamanian national. Since I gain little except a passport, the right to vote and work in Panama from the act of gaining naturalization here weighed against the possible loss of the ability to get a Visa to even visit the US this not an act I am willing to perform.
One other note is that you do not lose your social security benefits if you renounce your US citizenship. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10137.pdf
As to Medicare, “If you have already qualified for Medicare benefits, you do not lose these benefits, but you may lose access to them. Currently, Medicare does not cover medical treatment outside of the U.S. In theory, you could return to the U.S. for treatment, but you would likely have to apply for a visa.”
There are more issues to consider laid out in this article:
Tomorrow at the Tuesday meeting Enrique Arrocha a local attorney will be explaining his opinion, possibly in contrast to mine. If you are considering following through on this action I would consult a good attorney in the US as well as Panama before making any decision.