Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Terrell.
Washington, April 27, 1897.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 1233, of the 8th instant, has been received. You therein ask what rules should govern in determining when a naturalized American citizen, after returning to the land of his origin and residing there for many years, has lost his acquired citizenship.
There is no mode of renunciation of citizenship prescribed by our laws, and the Department hesitates, in any case, to declare that an American citizen, whether native or naturalized, has forfeited his citizenship.
Our statutes vest in the Secretary of State the power to regulate the discretionary issue of passports, and to decline to issue them or to authorize their issuance in cases where a citizen, native or naturalized, [Page 585]by the circumstances of residence abroad, appears to have voluntarily foregone the right to continued protection as a citizen while abroad. It may happen that a person to whom a passport is refused, while abroad, may, upon return to this country, establish his right thereto in the absence of any judicial impugnment of his status. That was the case with the man Ghika, to whom you advert.
The volumes of the Foreign Relations for many years past contain numerous opinions and decisions of the Department to the effect that a passport may be refused to a person applying therefor while abroad when the circumstances show a purpose to reside indefinitely in a foreign country or fail to show a reasonable intention to return to the United States.
The case of Dr. Garabed Vartanian, the particulars of which are briefly given by you, does not upon your showing appear to be one in which the applicant is entitled to a passport and to continued protection thereunder, unless his purpose to return to this country, here to perform the duties of citizenship, within some reasonable time, should be shown to your satisfaction and the statements of the declarant not be obviously negatived by the circumstances of his domicile abroad.