Mayor of London barred entry into the United States on his British Passport

In 2006, US immigration officials refused Boris Johnson, now mayor of London, entry into the United States on his British passport, saying that because he was born in the United States of America, they required that he travel on a US Passport into the US or have proof that he was no longer an American.  This proof is probably the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN). Johnson writes:

So I circumnavigated America. I flew via Madrid, managing to beat the rest of my family to Mexico by 45 minutes; and yet I still seethe. It’s not just the stupidity of the rule that gets me. It’s the arrogance. What other country insists that because you can be one of its nationals, then you must be one of its nationals? Imagine if we told all British-born Americans that they could not arrive in this country except by use of a British passport. I haven’t seen anything so insanely possessive since the negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy, when the Irish used to claim that the cod stocks of the Atlantic were still Irish in their fishy souls, even though they had long since emigrated to Portuguese waters.

As far as I can interpret the psychology of the rule, which has only been applied since 9/11, it is part of America’s new them-and-us mentality, the Manichaean division of the world into Americans and non-Americans, obliterating any category in between. Listen, buddy, the Americans seem to be saying. You got a right to be American? Then you do us the courtesy of travelling on the world’s number one passport when you come here. What you got to be ashamed of, boy?

I can tell you this:  the American tourist industry and airlines will lose a lot of business if a lot of accidental Americans have to circumnavigate the US.  This is dumb, dumber, and dumbest.  I too seethe.

5 thoughts on “Mayor of London barred entry into the United States on his British Passport

  1. I’m an ‘accidental citizen’ – born in the US to foreign parents, left (during the LBJ administration) aged 1 and haven’t been back except for short visits. I’ve lived in Africa for over 30 years. Luckily I took some good advice long ago, and I’ve been IRS and FBAR complaint for decades.

    The story with Boris Johnson has got me thinking about some additional unintended FATCA consequences that I haven’t seen reported elsewhere.

    Over the years I have encountered various other accidental citizens. Some are aware and may have a US passport, others have no idea. None of them have been aware of their IRS or FBAR obligations. This has got me to wondering how many such people there might be around the world.

    Since WW2, the US has had it’s nose in the business of many nations: Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. Then there’s strong economic ties with Western Europe, immigrant pressure from Central and South America, diasporic nations such as China, India and Ireland. Military personnel in 150+ countries.

    There must be 100 000s of people born in the USA over the decades whose parents repatriated, and many more born overseas to US fathers and subsequently registered by their foreign mothers. Many will be unaware they are citizens, and I’m guessing the USA is unaware of them.

    Enter FATCA. Their local bank asks are you a US Citizen, to which they proudly respond “Yes”. Many forms of ID (specifically passports) stipulate place of birth, so they might be identified by the FATCA’s due dilligence requirements. Now the kind of person I’m trying to describe is unlikely to have $50 000 in their account (10 years’ salary?), so the IRS will claim they’re not being targeted. But from the bank’s perspective this is now a toxic client. They must monitor her account continually in case it exceeds $50K in which case they forfeit 30% of their US assets. Any prudent risk manager will conclude: kick all such clients out.

    These financial refugees will need to spend ten years earnings on attorneys, CPAs, FBAR penalties etc. to procure the necessary document from the IRS required to renounce their citizenship and obtain their Certificate of Loss of Nationality. Then hopefully her Vietnamese bank manager will know what the CLN means, so she can rejoin the financial community.

  2. I live in Cape Town, but have travelled extensively throughout Africa (not CAR though). 10 years ago I travelled (alone) from London to Cape Town by public transport over a six month period … awesome!

    French speaking Africa? I have fond memories of Cameroon, which I’ve visited twice. Notably Kribi and it’s beaches.

    I’m aware of the Isaac Brock website, but felt it was aimed at Canadians. I’ve actually posted a reply over there with advice on the OVDP. I like it over here, because: I’m a value investor as well as a toxic expatriate, and the host (you) responds to my posts immediately, which makes me feel special 🙂

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to try and find somewhere over here to post my Isaac Brock OVDP piece as well.

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