The Benefits of British Citizenship for US Citizens Looking to Renounce or Lose US Citizenship
A series of immigration articles on US immigration to the UK
Why would you not want to be an American? Put the question another way, why would you consider renouncing or losing your US citizenship? Many people come to the UK for business, work or family reasons and make the UK their home. Expats in the UK sometimes come to the view that once they have secured indefinite leave to remain in the UK there is no big benefit in applying for British citizenship. However, US expats in the UK are in a special category because of the US tax regime and the taxation of all US citizens, wherever located. That is why for US expats living in the UK there are particular benefits of British citizenship.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
The benefits of British citizenship for US expats living in the UK and facing double taxation
For US expats and nationals, the big issue of being a US expat is that whilst you may have left the US the US tax system has global reach as you are still taxed by the US government, even if you move to a new country. The US tax rules can seem harsh to the Brits as US expats are paying tax in the UK and US ( subject to the effect of the UK and US double taxation treaty).
Double taxation applies to a US expat living in the UK where:
- They are living in the UK on a work visa, such as a skilled worker visa or an intra company transfer visa.
- They have come to the UK to set up their own business, such as on a start-up visa or innovator visa or global talent visa.
- They have relocated to the UK to live with family on a spouse visa or partner visa.
- They are in the UK as an international student on a student visa.
- They have decided to settle in the UK and secured indefinite leave to remain.
- They have settled in the UK and taken dual UK and US nationality.
In essence, a US expat can only shake off the threat of double taxation if they become a British citizen and lose their US citizenship. The loss of US citizenship involves making a revocation application that will only be granted if your US tax returns are up to date and any outstanding tax paid.
Prior to deciding on losing your US citizenship it is best to speak to a double taxation tax expert on whether you are likely to be affected by double taxation. You may be protected by the US and UK double taxation treaty or there may be steps you can take to minimise your exposure to double taxation through expert tax advice. Much will depend on your personal and financial circumstances.
The wider benefits of British citizenship for US expats
Becoming a Brit is far more than escaping the risk of double taxation. There are wider benefits of British citizenship for the US expat living in the UK, such as:
- You get to qualify for a British passport.
- You can vote in elections.
- You can leave the UK without losing your status. If you have indefinite leave to remain and as a US expat you leave the UK for two years or more then you may require a returning resident visa to get back into the UK.
- You can get British citizenship for your children even if they are not born in the UK.
The more nebulous benefit of British citizenship is a feeling of belonging and an acceptance that as a naturalised Brit you understand our small houses and compulsive need to talk about the weather whilst maintaining a stiff upper lip.
If you are a US expat and you know that you want to be a British citizen you also need to think about losing your US citizenship and what that may mean for you. If you prefer, you can become a British citizen whilst maintaining your US nationality but then you still face the double taxation jeopardy.
Is British citizenship your US expat goal ?
If British citizenship is something that you know that you want then UK immigration solicitors say it is best to be upfront with your individual immigration solicitor and explain that you want to settle in the UK. That is because you normally have to meet a six-year residence requirement before you can apply for British citizenship but the route to British citizenship can be accelerated if you choose your visa route wisely. For example, the investor visa and the global talent visa can both lead to accelerated settlement. If you are one of the unfortunates where, despite the US and UK double taxation treaty, you are paying some US tax on top of your UK tax bill then expert immigration legal advice could save you money as the sooner you get British citizenship you may pay less in tax.
Are you eligible to apply for British citizenship?
If you are a US expat our indefinite leave to remain lawyers and British citizenship solicitors can talk you through your visa extension and settlement options and the timing of your settlement application. The timing of your application can be crucial to ensure you meet the residence requirement and that any long absences from the UK have not jeopardised you meeting the residence requirement. The rules on eligibility for British citizenship will depend on the visa you are on so it is best to get expert advice so you know the earliest point you can apply for British citizenship and the paperwork you will need to provide in support of your application.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors