Page 41 - Foreign Service Journal - September 2013

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In the meantime, while the lawyers had been “agreeing to
disagree,” thousands of foreign-born children over the years
were receiving citizenship by taking advantage of this loop-
hole. In Caracas, where we both served, this loophole was so
popular that we were processing several such cases every day.
In fact, when we arrived, the post was actively promoting this
loophole to applicants who did not have enough physical pres-
ence to transmit citizenship to their children.
Apart from the fact that the situation often confused our
applicants, the way the department required us to implement
the provision created more work and extra costs for everyone
involved, by requiring the involvement of the immigrant visa
section for “non-immigration” cases.
We began by spending 10 to 15 minutes ascertaining
whether each applicant had enough documentation to satisfy
the physical presence requirement. When they didn’t, we
would then spend at least another fve minutes explaining to
each of them how to exploit the loophole.
First, the applicants had to make an appointment with the
immigrant visa unit, then fle the necessary paperwork and
pay the fees for an immigrant visa for their child (even though
they weren’t planning to immigrate). Once they received
that, they had to travel to the United States with the child to
demonstrate the intent to “immigrate” (even though they
were only planning on staying for a few days). Te applicant
would typically have to fnd someone with an address in the
United States as their putative residence, where USCIS could
then send them an expensive green card with high-security
Upon receiving that documentation, the parents would
then make another appointment at the American Citizens Ser-
vices section, where they would apply for a passport and turn
in their green card for destruction.
Given the fact that this process went against the process of
USCIS, created more work for consular sections at post, and
made our laws seem arbitrary and confusing, why was the
State Department supporting this?
Cue the Lobbyists
Another reason the department lawyers gave for their
interpretation of the CCA was the infuence of lobbying groups
of American citizens living abroad, such as the Association of
Americans Resident Overseas, American Citizens Abroad and
the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas. One of
the main goals of these organizations, in addition to exempt-
ing Americans living abroad from paying U.S. taxes, is to