Poll: Give Up SA Citizenship?

Many of us (South Africans living in the US) get green cards that eventually lead to qualifying for US citizenship.

Once you reach that point, the question becomes, “Do I give up my South African citizenship, or do I go for dual-citizenship?”

There are some issues with both options…

Giving Up SA Citizenship and having US Citizenship Only

  • You will be regarded as a foreigner in South Africa and will need to get a visa when you visit SA. (This is not a problem for the usual short-term tourist visas. You get those at the airport.)
  • If you ever decide to move back to South Africa, you will need to apply with the SA govt for residence status and to regain your citizenship, i.e. you won’t simply be able to show up and settle.
  • You will not have to go through the whole process of renewing your SA passport every few years, a process that can at times be frustrating.
  • When visiting South Africa, since you will be there as an American, you will able to get assistance from the US embassy in the case of an emergency.
  • You will no longer be subject to South African laws, e.g. possible military conscription obligations, or not being able to take your US-bought firearm into South Africa.

Keeping your South African Citizenship (Dual Citizenship)

  • You have to renew your SA passport every few years. (As I said, sometimes the process can at times be frustrating.)
  • You can go back to South Africa at any time you choose, whether to visit or live.
  • When visiting South Africa, you have to enter South Africa as a South African (i.e. on your SA passport). This means you can’t take your US-bought firearm with you on a hunting trip because you won’t have a South African firearm license for it. You also won’t be able to get assistance from the US embassy in the case of an emergency.

There are probably more issues to consider, but these are the general ones.

So my question to you is this:

Do you plan to give up your South African citizenship when getting US citizenship?

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  • I left S/Africa in 1980 to visit the US. and I’m still here. I was not aware one could forfeit one’s SA citizenship by becoming a US citizen. I don’t know the new S/Africa other than reports I read and hear say. For me, the old SA. is what lives in my heart. Please don’t take this to mean I’m racist. I’m not, and I don’t care really for SA citizenship now as it is and at my age.

    • Alan, yes, this certainly is a very personal issue for everybody. I imagine that there are a lot people who left SA around the time you did, who feel the same as you do.

  • Does any one know if you can continue to receive a pension from the SA government if you do not have SA citizenship or dual citizenship?

    • JoDe, your great question is one reason why we decided to go the "dual citizenship" route, i.e. not knowing exactly what the implications would be of giving up our SA citizenship. I am really interested in knowing the answer to your question if you can get a confirmed answer. If I can take a guess, I'd say that if you're entitled to a pension, you're entitled to it no matter what your citizenship. 🙂

  • The Receiver of Revenue would also be interested in you on your return for unpaid taxes on your overseas earnings and for not sending in a tax return.

  • I left South Africa in Dec 200, and on receiving my green card always knew that citizenship was my intent. I have ancestral citizenship for Great Britain and so a 3rd [South African] was not an option. I became a citizen of the US yesterday, and renounced my citizenship of South Africa. While I have an enornous family over there, returning is not an option as I am fully vested here and would find it an extreme challenge after 11yrs to return and attempt to settle. Many reasons – largely that I have traveled extensively, and have now become accustomed a way of life that unfortunately is out of reach for my generation in SA [my opinion]. The freedoms, safety, opportunity and level of choice that I have access to here is also out of reach given the current state of the Government, the lack of privatization, the general climate and tension that I sense when I do return on visits.

  • [contd] I cannot imagine living again behind 6ft walls, bearing arms on a daily basis, experiencing less than acceptable service and paying unnecessary premiums for basic services and utilities. I carry with me the time I lived there, and I keep my family close – in my heart, we rotate trans-Atlantic visits on a frequent basis. All that said, I am an American now in my heart – I have never been happier than during my last 11yrs spent here.

  • All my life i dreamed of become a US citizen because i wanna see other parts of the world not just staY my whole life in SA i reallY wanna see the other places….i’m turning 18 next month so wht can i do to get a passport?

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