Citizenship-based reporting: Russia’s “citizenship reporting” requirements – will the United States be next?

Prologue – A law firm perspective …

As reported by Chelco Vat:

The law does not make dual citizenship illegal; it is merely a reporting requirement.

Federal Law No. 142-FZ on Amendment of Articles 6 and 30 of the Federal Law on Russian Federation Citizenship and Individual Regulations of the Russian Federation, which took effect on 4 August 2014, makes it a criminal offence for Russian nationals to conceal dual citizenship or long-term residence abroad.

Hmmmm … ONLY a reporting requirement you say …

The perspective of an individual subject to the citizenship-reporting requirement …

The above tweet references an article in the New York Times discussing Russia’s law that requires all Russians with a second foreign citizenship report that foreign citizenship to the Government.

The author of the article, speculates that the law resulted from an attitude that …

But rather than embrace this dynamism, Moscow has increasingly clamped down on those whose political loyalties it fears may lie beyond national borders. Introducing the registration law earlier this year, Andrei K. Lugovoi, a deputy in the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, warned that Russia “finds itself in an aggressive international environment.” A list of dual citizens, he said, could help Russian security services “in case of an emergency.” These days, finger-pointing toward a distant West is no longer enough: It must be made clear that danger lurks within.

The author of the article speculates that the law could be used for …

Moscow may not yet know what it wants to do with its new list of potential traitors. But there are some troubling hints: In September, the Duma passed a preliminary bill to limit ownership of Russian media properties by foreign or dual citizens to 20 percent. And there are more mundane worries: The prospect of being arrested at a protest and branded a foreign spy; being the subject of a smear campaign; seeing grants or jobs dry up or disappear; having your taxes scrutinized.

Of course, not everyone will face problems. For all Moscow’s efforts to pass restrictive legislation at breakneck speed, the F.M.S. is far too backlogged to properly organize the data it has collected. Less than a week after the deadline, it seems that no one has yet been penalized for failing to comply with the law. Still, the government now has information it can use to target specific individuals. This, coupled with Moscow’s history of selective legal implementation, makes things dangerously unpredictable.

The forced reporting of “dual citizenship” is a troubling development …

In addition to the targeting of “specific individuals” in an arbitrary way, the fact of “dual citizenship” could be used to target specific individuals in a lawful way. What are some contexts where dual citizenship may be relevant?

Examples include …

– both Britain and Canada have joined approximately 22 countries which have passed laws allowing certain “dual citizens” to be stripped of citizenship in certain circumstances

– certain dual citizens are exempt from the draconian U.S. S. 877A Exit tax rules

– the United States has denied VISA free entry to certain EU citizens who are are also citizens of other nations

pursuant to the Canada/U.S. tax treaty and other U.S. tax treaties, those who were citizens of Canada have enhanced protection from IRS collection efforts

– and undoubtedly more

The point is that dual citizenship is sometimes an asset and sometimes a liability. That said, it is of interest to governments who value information and use information as a mechanism to control its citizens.

Prediction: The United States and other nations will emulate Russia by requiring the reporting of “foreign citizenships”. Will the United States have an annual “Foreign Citizenship Reporting” form? You bet, with a $10,000 penalty. “Reasonable cause” will be restricted to ONLY those circumstances where one could NOT have known they were a dual citizen.

Are you, or have you even been a citizen of a country other than the United States?

“Dual citizenship reporting” – Coming soon to a country near you!

John Richardson