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Can you live in the US after renouncing citizenship?

Yes, it is possible for a person to live in the United States after renouncing their U.S. citizenship, but there are some important requirements and restrictions to be aware of. The main options for remaining in the U.S. after renouncing citizenship are obtaining a visa, green card, or qualifying as a “covered expatriate.”

Background on Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

Renouncing U.S. citizenship is a serious decision that involves giving up the rights and privileges that come with being an American citizen. The process involves attending an in-person renunciation appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and signing an oath of renunciation.

According to U.S. law, a person renouncing citizenship loses their nationality and is required to depart the United States upon completing the renunciation process. However, it is possible to remain in the country legally in certain circumstances if proper permissions are obtained.

Reasons People Renounce Citizenship

There are a variety of reasons why individuals choose to renounce their U.S. citizenship, including:

  • Tax purposes – The U.S. taxes citizens and permanent residents on their worldwide income regardless of where they live. Renouncing can relieve this tax burden.
  • Dual citizenship – Some people who hold dual citizenship choose to renounce U.S. citizenship while retaining citizenship in their other country.
  • Family/marriage ties – Renouncing may be done to solidify ties and rights in another country where a person has strong familial or marriage connections.
  • Disagreement with U.S. policies – Some renounce as an act of protest against U.S. policies they strongly disagree with.
  • Simplifying finances – Renouncing can help simplify assets and finances for individuals living permanently overseas.

The Renunciation Process

Renouncing U.S. citizenship involves these primary steps:

  1. The individual must already possess citizenship in another country or be sure they will obtain it.
  2. They must attend an in-person renunciation appointment and sign affidavits confirming their intent and understanding of the consequences.
  3. State Department officials review and approve the loss of nationality.
  4. The now-former citizen is issued a Certificate of Loss of Nationality.
  5. They must exit the U.S. upon completing the process (unless they obtain further permissions to stay).

There is also an exit tax imposed when renouncing citizenship. The current fee to renounce is $2,350 and involves completing tax forms with the IRS.

Obtaining a Visa

One of the more common ways former U.S. citizens can continue living in America is by obtaining a visa. This allows them to remain for either temporary or extended periods, depending on the type of visa.

Here are some of the main options:

Tourist Visa

The B-2 tourist visa allows foreign visitors to remain in the U.S. temporarily for tourism, visiting family, receiving medical treatment, or other short-term purposes. It permits stays up to 6 months at a time. The visa must be renewed periodically.

Student Visa

F-1 student visas allow foreign individuals to live in America while engaged in academic study. The visa holder must be enrolled in a program at an academic institution and remain a full-time student.

Work Visa

There are a variety of work visas that enable foreign workers to live and be employed in the United States. Some examples include the H-1B for skilled workers, the L-1 for intracompany transfers, O-1 visa for extraordinary individuals, and TN visa for NAFTA professionals. These typically require sponsorship from an employer.

Family-Based Visas

Those with close family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for family-sponsored visas. These include visas for spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

To obtain any type of visa, the applicant will need to complete forms, pay fees, go through interviews, and receive approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Having significant assets, education, and English language skills can help improve the chances of maintaining U.S. residency through visas.

Getting a Green Card

Gaining permanent resident status with a green card is another avenue that allows former citizens to legally reside in the United States indefinitely.

There are different paths to pursuing a green card:

Through Family

As with visas, having close family members in the U.S. can provide a path to a green card. Whether through a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, family connections may make it possible to obtain permanent residency.


Employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers for green cards if they demonstrate no qualified U.S. citizens are available for a position. This may be an option for former citizens with high-demand skills and education.

Investment and Business

Investing substantial money in a U.S. business or commercial enterprise can make high net worth individuals eligible for an investor green card. There are minimum investment amounts that must be met.

Refugee or Asylee Status

Those fleeing persecution may be granted a green card based on refugee or asylee status even after renouncing citizenship. This requires demonstrating a well-founded fear of returning home.

Diversity Visa Lottery

The diversity visa lottery randomly selects applicants from underrepresented countries to receive green cards. However, former U.S. citizens are generally barred from this program.

Obtaining a marriage-based green card will typically be subject to a 3-5 year conditional period before full permanent residency is granted. Other employment-based green cards may impose a similar conditional period as well.

Qualifying as a Covered Expatriate

The final option that may allow staying in the U.S. after renouncing citizenship is meeting the IRS definition of a “covered expatriate.”

This applies to:

  • Those with a net worth of $2 million or more.
  • Those with an average federal tax liability of greater than $168,000 for the past 5 years.
  • Those failing to certify they have been tax compliant over the past 5 years.

Covered expatriates are still subject to U.S. tax obligations for 10 years after renouncing citizenship. However, the substantial asset threshold means they have the financial resources to maintain U.S. residency by periodically renewing visas or pursuing green cards through investment.

They must also pay the exit tax on their worldwide assets. But covered expatriates are not barred from reentry to the U.S. in the same way as renunciants who do not meet the asset/tax liability requirements.

Restrictions on Remaining in the U.S.

While the options above describe scenarios where former citizens can legally reside in America, there are limitations and risks to be aware of:

  • Visas must be periodically renewed and can be denied.
  • Green cards may be revoked if residency requirements are not met.
  • Non-covered expatriates may face bars on reentry for up to 10 years.
  • Overstaying visas or conditional green card periods leads to losing lawful status.
  • Those who stay unlawfully risk detention, removal, and bans on reentry.

Maintaining compliance with immigration laws is essential. Violations can quickly result in loss of status and even deportation.

Long-Term Outcomes

While it is possible to live in the U.S. after renouncing citizenship, this status is often temporary or conditional. There are strict eligibility rules for visas and green cards that must continually be met.

For non-covered expatriates without substantial assets, long-term prospects for staying in America are limited. Most who renounce citizenship eventually move abroad permanently or only stay in the U.S. for short visits.

Obtaining permanent status is easiest through marriage to a U.S. citizen or birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. But even these options do not guarantee the right to permanently reside stateside indefinitely after renouncing citizenship.

Path to Citizenship After Renouncing

In some cases, it is possible for former U.S. citizens to regain citizenship. This involves meeting residency requirements again in the U.S. along with naturalization. But regaining citizenship after renouncing is difficult and not guaranteed.


Renouncing U.S. citizenship comes with life-changing consequences, including the requirement to depart from the United States. While it is possible to remain in America legally through certain visas, green cards, or covered expatriate status, continuous eligibility requirements and restrictions apply.

For most who renounce citizenship, staying in the U.S. long-term or permanently is challenging. Careful consideration of both the exit tax consequences and future status to live in the country should be made before taking the serious step of renouncing U.S. citizenship. Proper legal guidance is highly recommended.