The Minister in Norway (Swenson) to the Secretary of State

No. 1453

Sir: With reference to the Department’s Instruction No. 462, of May 29, 1929, and previous correspondence in regard to the Department’s negotiations of a treaty between the United States and Norway providing that persons born in the United States of Norwegian parentage and naturalized American citizens shall not be held liable for military service or any other act of allegiance during a stay in the territory subject to the jurisdiction of the Norwegian Government while citizens of the United States of America under the laws thereof, I have the honor to transmit herewith, for the Department’s information, a copy of a note addressed to me by the Norwegian Foreign Office under date of the 29th ultimo, in reply to mine of January 4, 1929,41 conveying the instructions of the Department’s No. 442.

In perusing the note from the Foreign Office I received the impression that there has been a misapprehension as to the nature of the proposal submitted by the Department. The Department of Justice, which has had the matter under consideration for the past six months, appears to have rendered its opinion on the assumption that the draft agreement had reference to natives of Norway who have become naturalized American citizens.

I suspect that the confusion has arisen from a careless reading of the Joint Resolution of Congress, which contains the words, “providing that persons born in the United States of foreign parentage, and naturalized American citizens, shall not, etc.,”. Inasmuch as I wanted a preliminary report on this subject to go forward by the first pouch I called up the Chief of Bureau in the Department of Justice who had handled this case and invited his attention to the text of the draft submitted by the Department of State, which obviously contemplates an [Page 473] agreement affecting persons born in the territory of one party of parents who are nationals of the other party, and having the nationality of both parties under the laws, I also pointed out the paragraph in the Department’s instruction stating that in view of the provisions of the existing naturalization Treaty between the United States and Norway it is unnecessary to enter into a new agreement concerning natives of either country who, after having acquired naturalization in the other, desire to visit their native land.

The Bureau Chief admitted that there seemed to have been some misunderstanding on the part of his office. I shall take the earliest opportunity to discuss the situation with the Foreign Office with a view to a renewed consideration of the subject.

I take it, however, that the Government will adhere to its present attitude with respect to an agreement regarding the termination of dual nationality.

As regards the status of persons born in the United States of parents who are nationals of Norway I may state that under the present citizenship law, which went into effect January 1, 1925, they lose their Norwegian citizenship when they reach the age of 22 years provided they have not resided in Norway.

Persons born abroad and never having lived in Norway who had reached their 22nd year on January 1, 1925, lost their Norwegian citizenship January 1, 1928, or three years after the new citizenship law went into effect.

I have [etc.]

Laurits S. Swenson
  1. Neither printed.