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Earlier this month another of The Kaplan Law Firm’s clients had her U.S. citizenship restored by the Department of State. The client had renounced her citizenship decades ago. She prevailed because Matt Kaplan, the Firm’s principal attorney, convinced the Department that the client’s renunciation had not been knowing, intelligent and voluntary.

The client, who was and is a citizen and resident of a major European country, renounced her citizenship at an American consulate in the early 1980s when she was a young adult. She was, however, able to provide witness testimony from persons who knew her at the time which indicated that her renunciation was not voluntary, but the result of considerable pressure from her parents. Based on this evidence the Department of State concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (“CLN”) issued to the client at the time of her renunciation and, consequently, it vacated that CLN. This case illustrates the Department’s willingness to reverse even decades-old citizenship decisions when it is convinced that the facts make it appropriate to do so.

American citizens who lose their U.S. nationality, including those who have renounced, may challenge their loss of citizenship in a federal court or, alternatively, by taking advantage of a relatively informal administrative procedure administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. The administrative procedure is simpler and less expensive than going to court and is probably more likely to succeed. Moreover, there is a five-year statute of limitations (from the time of renunciation) for bringing a lawsuit to regain citizenship but administrative appeals to the State Department are not subject to any time limit. More information on the process is available here.

The Kaplan Law Firm represents individuals who seek to regain U.S. citizenship after having lost it. Mr. Kaplan is a former State Department foreign service officer. The Kaplan Law Firm has had considerable success in such cases, but the chance of a successful result—having American citizenship restored—depends on the facts of each case. and on whether there is compelling evidence that citizenship should not have been lost.