To the Diplomatic and Consular Officers of the United States.

Gentlemen: It has been represented to the Department that a greater uniformity than now prevails is desirable in the treatment of applications for passports from persons who allege American citizenship, and who have been absent from the United States for a prolonged period and are unable or refuse to give a definite promise of return. [Page 2] Diplomatic officers and consular officers having authority to issue passports will therefore follow the general principles of this instruction; ut wherever a doubt arises as to the propriety of issuing or withholding a passport, they will communicate all the facts of the case to the Department and await its instructions.

This Government does not discriminate between native-born and naturalized citizens in according them protection while they arc abroad, equality of treatment being required by the laws of the United States (sees. 1999 and 2000, Rev. Stats.). But in determining the question of conservation of American citizenship and the right to receive a passport, it is only reasonable to take into account the purpose for which the citizenship is obtained. A naturalized citizen who returns to the country of his origin and there resides without any tangible manifestation of an intention to return to the United States may therefore generally be assumed to have lost the right to receive the protection of the United States. His naturalization in the United States can not be used as a cloak to protect him from obligations to the country of his origin while he performs none of the duties of citizenship to the country which naturalized him. The statements of loyalty to this Government which he may make are contradicted by the circumstance of his residence, and are open to the suspicion of being influenced by the advantages he derives by avoiding the performance of the duties of citizenship to any country. It is not to be understood by this that naturalized American citizens returning to the country of their origin are to be refused the protection of a passport. On the contrary, full protection should be accorded to them until they manifest an effectual abandonment of their residence and domicile in the United States.

A passport is in its terms a statement that the person it names and describes is a citizen of the United States, and it is forbidden by law to issue one to any other than a citizen of the United States (sec. 4076, Rev. Stats.). The Secretary of State, and under him our diplomatic and consular officers, with certain restrictions, may grant and issue passports under such rules as the President prescribes (sec. 4076, Rev. Stats.). As a general statement, passports are issued to all law-abiding American citizens who apply for them and comply with the rules prescribed; but it is not obligatory to issue one to every citizen who desires it, and the rejection of an application is not to be construed as per se a denial by this Department or its agents of the American citizenship of a person whose application is so rejected.

A condition precedent to the granting of a passport is, under the law and the rules prescribed by authority of the law, that the citizenship of the applicant and his domicile in the United States and intention to return to it with the purpose of residing and performing the duties of citizenship shall be satisfactorily established. One who has expatriated himself can not, therefore, receive a passport.

Expatriation has been defined by Mr. Hamilton Fish as—

The quitting of one’s country, with an abandonment of allegiance and with the view of becoming permanently a resident and citizen of some other country, resulting in the loss of the party’s preexisting character of citizenship.

Thus, a person—

may reside abroad for purposes of health, of education, of amusement, of business, for an indefinite period; he may acquire a commercial or civil domicile there, but if he do so sincerely and bona fide animo revertendi, and do nothing inconsistent with his preexisting allegiance, he will not thereby have taken any step toward self-expatriation. But if, instead of this, he permanently withdraws himself and his [Page 3] property and places both where neither can be made to contribute to the national necessities, acquires a political domicile in a foreign country, and avows his purpose not to return, he has placed himself in the position where his country has the right to presume that he has made his election of expatriation.

There being no legislative definition of what constitutes expatriation, it is a fact to be determined by the circumstances surrounding each case that arises.

But even where expatriation may not be established, a person who is permanently resident and domiciled outside of the United States can not receive a passport.

When a person who has attained his majority removes to another country and settles himself there, he is stamped with the national character of his new domicile; and this is so, notwithstanding he may entertain a floating intention of returning to his original residence or citizenship at some future period, and the presumption of law with respect to residence in a foreign country, especially if it be protracted, is that the party is there animo manendi, and it lies upon him to explain it. (Mr. Fish to the President, Foreign Relations 1873, 1186 et seq.)

If, in making application for a passport, he swears that he intends to return to the United States within a given period, and afterward, in applying for a renewal of his passport, it appears that he did not fulfill his intention, this circumstance awakens a doubt as to his real purposes, which he must dispel. (Foreign Relations 1890, 11).

The treatment of the individual cases as they arise must depend largely upon attendant circumstances. When an applicant has completely severed his relations with the United States; has neither kindred nor property here; has married and established a home in a foreign land; has engaged in business or professional pursuits wholly in foreign countries; has so shaped his plans as to make it impossible or improbable that they will ever include a domicile in this country—these and similar circumstances should exercise an adverse influence in determining the question whether or not a passport should issue. On the other hand, a favorable conclusion may be influenced by the fact that family and property connections with the United States have been kept up; that reasons of health render travel and return impossible or inexpedient; and that pecuniary exigencies interfere with the desire to return. But the circumstance which is perhaps the most favorable of all is that the applicant is residing abroad in representation and extension of legitimate American enterprises.

The status of American citizens resident in a semibarbarous country or in a country in which the United States exercises extraterritorial jurisdiction is singular. If they were subjects of said power before they acquired citizenship in the United States, they are amenable, upon returning, to the same restrictions of residence as are laid down in the beginning of this instruction, and for the same reasons; but if they are not in that category their residence may be indefinitely prolonged, since obviously they can not become subjects of the native government without grave peril to their safety. The Department’s position with respect to these citizens has uniformity been to afford them the protection of a passport as long as their pursuits are legitimate and not prejudicial to the friendly relations of this Government with the government within whose limits they are residing; and the Department has even held that persons who are members of a distinctly American community in Turkey and avail themselves of the extraterritorial rights given by Turkey to such communities may inherit their rights as American citizens, and that section 1993 of the Revised States [Page 4] of the United States which provides that “the rights of citizenship shall not descend to children whose father never resided in the United States” is not applicable, such descendants being regarded, through their inherited extraterritorial rights recognized by Turkey herself, as born and continuing in the jurisdiction of the United States. (Foreign Relations, 1887, 1125.)

I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant,

John Hay.