“You are an invalid resident!”, I was told. I had called a State government office to inquire on my status since I had been denied services by some American companies even though I was a US citizen. I then learned that I would become a “valid resident” once I got an id card. Yet, I couldn’t get this id card at the local embassy. Instead, I was told that I must fly to the US to process the paperwork. That sounds a bit unusual, but what must be done must be done. So, the next time that I had a good reason to fly to the US, I purchased a ticket and flew over to a State where I was considered as being a “non-resident” rather than an “invalid resident”. To become a “valid resident” in the “non-resident” State, I was told that I needed to have a mailing address in that State. So, I called a mail forwarder and got a mailing address in that State. I then filled out the Declaration of Domicile using my new address, got it approved and headed down to the voters registration office. There, I was informed that “you can’t vote from a business address”. Another employee asked: “How can you live at a business address?”. I explained to them that I’m an American abroad, that this is currently my only address in America, and that the address simply forwards my mail to where I live abroad. They then responded by telling me that they cannot register me to vote since the system won’t allow it and that I would have to come back when I have a different address. I then explained to them that it could be years before I returned to the States again, that I’m not allowed to do this at the embassy abroad and that I need an id card since American businesses were denying me services without it. The employee then went to inquire the matter with the supervisor. The supervisor stated that I had done everything that was required of me and that the clerk would have to override the system and manually enter in my address. After lots of going back and forth, I finally got registered to vote under the condition that I “do not vote in local elections”, I got the new id card and changed my status to “valid resident” (I think) but in a different State. The folks at the voters registration seemed rather unhappy about this, but I had no reason or motive to become a “valid resident” in the State where I was defined as being “invalid”, while my new status fits much better in terms of climate, location, politics and long-term planning.
To get an id card, a US representative may spend about $40 for the trolley fare and government fees. For Americans abroad, the cost may be over $2000 for airfare, hotel, car rental, food and government fees. Unless US representatives want to get their id cards in China under the same conditions as any other American, one would think that they would fight for embassies or consulates to provide id card services like that done by any other nation other than the US.