Moving Out of the Country – How Trump’s Muslim Ban Changes Things
I have no serious political opinion regarding Trump’s recent ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries into the US (other than my usual stance that it won’t matter in the long-term for the future of the US or the West). What’s more important is the effect this action, and the precedent it sets, on those of us looking to live abroad and follow Five Flags.
In all the noise and screaming about this ban from both the left and the right (god I’m getting tired of this stuff), two sidelined facts are the ones that are most important to me. Those are:
1. The ban applies, at least in part, to people who are legal residents of the USA, i.e. those with green cards. In other words, if you’re a non-citizen but a legal resident of the USA, and you were out visiting family in your home country when this ban occurred, you’re either restricted from coming back into the USA, or you face a huge hassle of multiple interviews before you do so. Since I’m planning on essentially living just like this (living in my Country A but not being a citizen there), this is not bode well at all.
2. The ban applies, at least in part, to people who have dual citizenship (two passports), even if they don’t use their restricted passport when they enter the USA. This means that if you have a UK passport and an Iranian passport, and you use your UK passport to enter the US, if it says that you were born in Iran (for example), you can still be barred from entry into the country.
This all demonstrates how sweeping changes in your ability to be a free citizen and travel as you wish can be severely hampered by the stroke of a pen of a president who’s trying to score points with his base. The right-wing counterargument to this is that “if you’re a white guy and not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about.” The corrected statement is that you have nothing to worry about today. Blogs like the very one you’re reading could be considered illegal, subversive or dangerous someday, particularly if we encounter Scenario 4 or 5, and you or I could be hassled at the border of entering countries that we actually live in.
In my move-out plan, I’ve always had the option of possibly renouncing my US citizenship to avoid the insane taxes the US places on Americans who don’t even live in the USA. I’ve been looking at making that a definite part of my plan, and this travel ban has now confirmed it. In the long term, once I get my second passport for my Country B, and I’m comfortably settled in my Country A, I will renounce my US citizenship, save a mountain of money on taxes, then work on getting a third passport so I’m not at the mercy of having just one.
What a huge pain in the ass, but it’s what’s required. I have now revised my plan to seek two country B’s, two more passports, not just one.
Strangely, renouncing my citizenship once I have my second passport might actually help me spend more time in the US. When you’re an American who doesn’t live in the US, the first $100,000 of income is exempted from most (but not all) US taxes. However, it’s possible to lose this exemption if you spend more than 35 days a year back in the US. I would like to spend most of my summers in the US visiting my family and friends, so this might be a problem (depending on how my residency with my Country A pans out).
However, if I’m no longer a US citizen, I can get a 90 day visa to stay in the US up to three months, and pay no US taxes. Sounds good to me.
Update: 2/1/17: About a week later it looks like they’ve backtracked, at least somewhat, on the green card thing. The reports I’m seeing are conflicting, and it still looks like you’re in for some hassle if you are a resident, but it appears the policy has softened. This entire thing clearly wasn’t very well thought-out (big shock).