It is only possible that an American would want to leave the United States in order to relocate and establish a residence in another country. After all, a person would want to seek greener pasture someplace else. Most American expats are retirees who seek to live out the rest of their lives in a country that has a cheaper cost of living or perhaps somewhere that they perceive has a more peaceful environment than their home in the US.
Leaving the United States does not necessarily take away the fact that you’re still an American citizen. You simply become expatriated, hence the term expat. Simply, you are an American living in a foreign home with your rights still retained. That brings us to the question, “What rights does an American expat retain upon moving overseas?”
You’re a citizen of the United States. A full-fledged American citizen has the right to exercise suffrage. This means that, even if you are living as a resident in a foreign country, you still have the right and the duty to extend your vote during elections. The funny thing about this is that most expatriates are not really aware of the fact that they are able to and should be voting during elections. In fact, American expats have been given the right to vote in 1975, although it took some time before facilities were in place to allow Americans abroad to exercise their right to suffrage.
Your passport is your form of identification that confirms your identity as a citizen of the United States. Unless an expat like you decides to renounce their U.S. citizenship, the Embassy will not confiscate your passports upon expatriation. With an American passport in hand, you can enjoy the same travel rights, as enjoyed by your stateside countrymen, to certain countries that allow American citizens to travel only with a US passport without the need for a visa. Of course, this would also mean that you would have to make the necessary efforts to ensure that you have a valid passport. Fortunately, the United States maintains embassies in various countries around the world, which brings us to the next right you have as an American expat.
There is a reason why the United States maintains an embassy in foreign countries. The Embassy is a means, among others, for people wishing to migrate to the United States but it also exists as a means to provide protection and services to American expats abroad. After all, it is difficult to be stuck in a foreign country that you barely know. The consulate and the Embassy are the people that you can approach, as an expat, for help in legal issues concerning your new residency. Members of Embassy staff are well-versed in the laws and other legal matters that should concern an expat living in a foreign country, and are the best people that expats can trust in matters like taxes, local laws, local wages and many others.
There you go. These are the rights that an American expatriate retains even after transferring to a foreign country of residence. These rights will remain in place as long as the expat retains his or her citizenship. Of course, once an expat decides to renounce US citizenship, these rights are then waived once the application is approved.
Mary Frank is currently taking Law at the University of Southern California. In her free time, she writes articles for AttorneyOne.com discussing her opinion on current events that touch on American rights and American law.