August 4, 2021

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The U.S. passport loses value

The United States passport experiences a sharp drop in the world ranking of this important document, which measures access to other nations, down to the group of position 21 in the Passport Index, behind 52 other nations.

In previous years, the American passport had been falling positions in that ranking, but this time the collapse has been marked. Other indices that various institutions prepare – and that measure access to other nations – also reflect a decrease in the access value of this United States documentation.

According to the Index, currently the US passport only opens the entry doors to 92 nations, 43 of them with certain minimum requirements, such as requesting a visa or provisional permit upon arrival in the destination country. However, 106 countries require the holder of a US passport to have a visa before entering the country, or do not even allow access due to the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the United States is seen as a high country. risk that has not been able to control the pandemic.

In contrast, the New Zealand passport, which tops the list this year, allows entry to 129 nations, 86 of them without any requirement, while only 69 countries require a visa.

The passports of practically all European nations, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates, all guarantee more access to other countries compared to the American passport at the moment.

In group 21, where the United States appears, they are accompanied by Malaysia. The Index classifies countries into 75 groups, with Iraq and Afghanistan at the bottom.

Currently, due to COVID-19, a ban on the entry of travelers with a US passport is in force in almost all of Europe, as well as many countries in Asia, Africa, America and Oceania, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Eye for an eye?

However, the decline in the access power offered by the US passport is not reduced to the current COVID-19 crisis. As explained by the teacher Efrain Vazquez Vera, professor of international relations at the University of Puerto Rico, this decline has occurred since the days after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, when the United States began to impose more restrictions on travelers from other nations.

“The American passport, at other times, was very high index. But it has been falling for a long time. And it’s not just because of COVID-19. What happens is that many countries are carried away by reciprocity, that is, what you do to me, I do to you too. And since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the United States has been demanding more from other countries in terms of visas, ”explained the professor.

He argued that it is not only that it is increasingly difficult to obtain a visa for the United States, but that “now they are even asking for it for transit.”

Such practice, he indicated, makes it more difficult for places like Puerto Rico to serve as a stopover or transit point for travelers heading to other nations of the Americas, as it has done before.

“What many countries have done is that they impose requirements on travelers with a US passport similar to those imposed by their citizens when they go to the United States. And that reciprocity between countries is normal. Before you could go to many places without a visa or anything, but with so much requirement, because that has led to a lot of reciprocity from other countries. So it has more to do with terrorism, and the US has become very strict, “he argued.

He explained that the levels of this reciprocity are different in each nation. For example, an American, when arriving in Argentina, is charged to enter what Argentine citizens pay for a visa to the US In Brazil, they also require a visa and are charged the same amount that the US asks for. its citizens. Brazil, even after the US imposed the taking of photos and fingerprints on foreigners who arrived on its territory, bought the machines to carry out the same process only for US citizens.

Professor Vázquez Vera argued that the drop in the access value of the US passport could play a role, in combination with other economic and contributory considerations, in another phenomenon that has been occurring and that has skyrocketed in 2020, which is the amount of Americans who are renouncing American citizenship.

According to various media reports, citing data from the Federal Register, in the first half of this year alone, 5,816 resignations of citizenship were registered, which exceeded the figure for one year, which dated from 2016. All estimates suggest that 2020 will exceed the 10,000 resignations to citizenship, and all this despite the fact that the offices that carry out the procedures have experienced closures due to COVID-19 and that the cost of the management has been increasing in recent years – it is currently at $ 2,350-, and that the waiver has to pay in full any tax debt that he has before completing the process. Decades ago, those figures rarely exceeded 500 resignations in a year.

“In the last few years it has been the period where the most American citizens have renounced that citizenship. It has happened with many wealthy people, who go to other jurisdictions, to countries where it is easier to acquire citizenship, such as Saint Kitts (Saint Kitts and Nevis) or Dominica, who have passports with which you can enter a lot of countries already Europe without restrictions. Or the passport of Malta, Austria, which are members of the European Union ”, he explained.

He recalled that, in addition, there are many nations, such as Italy, Ireland or Germany, that if the person has ancestors from that nation, they can be granted a passport.

“So there are many Americans who renounce their passport and acquire another. It is due to the issue of blood (ancestry), due to tax issues, due to investment in those other countries ”, he added.

Even in some nations, for various historical, cultural and socioeconomic reasons, having a US passport can “bring problems, that they look at you badly”, so there are people who prefer to use another.

He recalled that while many nations recognize dual citizenship, the United States does not. And every citizen who lives in another country, even if he has another citizenship, has to report taxes to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) every year, under penalty of committing a crime. That requirement has become an onerous burden for many Americans living in other nations and there are even financial institutions that refuse to provide services to Americans to avoid having to submit documents to the IRS.

“So COVID-19 is an additional issue to everything that has been happening since September 11. Now it is aggravated by the terrible handling that the United States had of the pandemic. Today being a North American citizen and traveling has become more complicated, and I don’t think it will change in a short time, ”said the professor.

“I know that for many in Puerto Rico, that American passport is like the air they breathe, but this is something that is happening. You can no longer travel like before. Sometimes it is difficult for you to travel for that passport. So, if we are going to a matter of pure interest, outside of patriotism, the American passport right now is not the most desired passport ”, he concluded.

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