The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Yugoslavia ( Prince )
Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your despatch No. 976 of January 19, 1931, concerning the attitude of the Yugoslav authorities with regard to the treatment accorded to naturalized American citizens of Yugoslav origin who return to Yugoslavia and are impressed into the military service of that country.
The Department has very carefully considered the matters discussed in your despatch under acknowledgment which it considers of importance to the relations between the Governments of the United States and Yugoslavia, and with reference to your inquiry whether you should intervene in all cases coming to the knowledge of your office of the induction into the Yugoslav Army of naturalized American citizens of Yugoslav origin you are advised that the Department desires you to protest against such induction in all meritorious cases [Page 1055] coming to the attention of your office, regardless of the fact that such protest may seem futile. Such protests are considered by the Department as necessary for maintaining the position of this government concerning the status and right to protection of naturalized citizens. In this connection your attention is called to the Act of July 27, 1868 (U. S. C. Title 8, Section 15) which freely recognizes the principle of the inherent right of expatriation. In pursuing the principle outlined in the Act of July 27, 1868, the Department has maintained that a naturalized citizen of the United States should not, upon his return to his country of origin or prior nationality, be obliged to perform military or other obligations or be held liable for failing to have performed such service or obligations which had not actually accrued under the law of the foreign country prior to his emigration to the United States. The Department, of course, makes a distinction between persons who emigrated to the United States under a prospective liability to military or other obligations which had not yet matured and those who emigrated to avoid military and other obligations which had been definitely fixed upon them. Consequently, in all cases where naturalized American citizens emigrated to the United States prior to the date when they were actually required by the law of Yugoslavia to serve in the army of that country and who, upon returning to Yugoslavia for temporary visits, are called upon to serve in the Yugoslav Army, the Department desires, as a matter of principle, that a protest be entered with the Yugoslav authorities against such service.
The Department, in considering the attitude of the Yugoslav authorities with regard to the treatment accorded to naturalized American citizens of Yugoslav origin who return to Yugoslavia and are impressed into the military service of that country, has not overlooked the fact that there exists a conflict between the nationality laws of the United States and of Yugoslavia. It believes, however, that if the question of the status of persons of Yugoslav origin who have been naturalized in the United States should be further considered by the high officials of the Yugoslav Government they might be induced to concede the propriety of, and the advantages to be obtained by, the conclusion of a treaty of naturalization between the United States and Yugoslavia defining the status of nationals of each country who shall have been naturalized in the other upon their return to their country of origin for a temporary stay. Such treaties have been entered into between the United States and a number of European countries. Recently treaties of naturalization have been concluded with Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. A similar treaty with Albania was signed on January 21, 1931, but has not yet been ratified.5 Experience has shown [Page 1056] that these treaties are mutually advantageous to the countries being party to them. The files of the Department indicate that in 1921 the Yugoslav Government expressed a desire to conclude a naturalization treaty with the United States in order to obviate the difficulties encountered by naturalized American citizens born in the territory now occupied by Yugoslavia upon returning to their native country. Subsequently various delays were encountered in the negotiation of such a treaty, the reason alleged on several occasions being that there was no fundamental legislation on the subject of nationality of Yugoslavia. In view of the passage of the Yugoslav Law of September 21, 1928, such reason would appear no longer to exist, and it is possible that if the matter of entering into a naturalization treaty with the United States should be taken up with the Yugoslav authorities at this time and pressed as forcibly as circumstances warrant, the Yugoslav authorities might be willing to conclude such a treaty, thus obviating the difficulties encountered in each individual case because of the conflict between the laws of the United States and Yugoslavia. It is desired that you promptly take action with this end in view. As the draft convention submitted with the Department’s instruction No. 254 of October 25, 1921,6 was prepared before the adoption of the Married Women’s Nationality Act of September 22, 1922,7 and the Joint Resolution of Congress of May 28, 1928,8 hereinafter mentioned, a new draft is enclosed herewith,6 for submission to the Yugoslav Foreign Office.
It may be added that if there is any reluctance on the part of the Yugoslav authorities to concluding a naturalization treaty with the United States because they apprehend that persons of Yugoslav origin who are naturalized in the United States might, shortly after naturalization, resume their residence in Yugoslavia and seek to benefit by the Yugoslav laws, while at the same time evading military and other obligations to Yugoslavia, it should be pointed out that the Government of the United States has no desire to extend its protection to persons of the class just mentioned. It is interested only in persons who have in good faith established a permanent residence in the United States and obtained naturalization in this country. Attention may be called to the second paragraph of Section 15 of the Act of June 29, 1906, (U. S. C. Title 8, Section 405) which authorizes the cancellation ab initio of the naturalization of persons who, within five years after procuring naturalization, establish a permanent residence abroad. Attention may be also called to the provisions of the second paragraph of Section 2 of the Act of March 2, 1907 (U. S. C. [Page 1057] Title 8, Section 17) under which a naturalized citizen of the United States who resides for two years in his native land becomes subject to the presumption that he has ceased to be a citizen of this country, although such presumption may be overcome upon the presentation of satisfactory evidence to a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, under rules prescribed by the Department. These rules Contain the condition that the naturalized citizen intends to return to the United States to reside. It may also be observed that the Immigration Act of 19249 draws a sharp line of demarcation between immigrants and non-immigrants, and it is not lawful for an alien who has entered this country as a non-immigrant to obtain naturalization. Thus it is clearly the intent of the laws of the United States to grant naturalization only to aliens who have in good faith established themselves in this country. It is for the benefit of such persons only that a naturalization treaty with Yugoslavia is desired.
Very truly yours,