Letter to Staff of Congressman Vern Buchanan, requesting recommendation to renounce US citizenship

Sent via email (since, I’ve updated the latest bank situation in this post)
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Dear staff of Congressman Vern Buchanan,
I’m a middle class American citizen and US veteran registered to vote in your district, who has been living abroad in Switzerland since 2001. I moved to Switzerland to escape unemployment in the US during the Dot-Com crisis. In 2006, I was lucky enough to be able to get a mortgage to finance a condo which will need to be refinanced in February next year.
In the last few months, the situation here has deteriorated dramatically. Several weeks ago, I walked from one bank to the next only to be told that they will not refinance my mortgage simply because I am a US citizen, even though I am also a Swiss citizen. GE Moneybank, an American bank, also stated that I may not open an account with them simply because I am an American. Currently, the following banks have informed me that they will not refinance the mortgages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
  • GE Money Bank (US bank.  Doesn’t finance mortgages but refuses to provide banking services to Americans)
  • Raiffeisen (might finance Swiss citizens who live in the States)
  • Bank Coop
  • AXA Bank
  • Migros Bank (unless the minimum account balance is $250’000 or the mortgage is above $700’000)
  • NAB
  • Valiant Bank AG
  • Rothschild Bank AG (probably not, but unsure)
  • SwissLife (investment products, mortgages)
  • Hypothekarbank Lenzburg (see signature on every web page)
  • Swissquote Bank
  • FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG
  • Vontobel (Doesn’t finance mortgages, but US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
  • Bank Sarasin, finances under the condition that the mortgage is matched with assets (US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
  • Julius Baer (refuses to provide financial services to US citizens, but may refinance a mortgage for dual citizens with a minimum investment of 500’000)
  • Zuger Cantonal Bank
The following banks have not yet decided if they will finance the mortages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
The following banks have stated that they will still provide some services to Swiss-US dual citizens, for now, but many refuse to provide banking services to American citizens in Switzerland:

  • Basler Cantonal Bank (refuses to provide financial services to  US citizens)
  • Vaud Cantonal Bank (waives foreign account fees for Swiss citizens living or working abroad)
  • Aargauische Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US persons)
  • St. Galler Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US residents)
  • Zürcher Cantonal Bank (does not finance mortgages for Swiss citizens who live in the US)
  • Credit Suisse (refuses to provide financial services to  US citizens)
  • Hyposwiss Privatbank (As long as W9 is completed)
  • UBS (Baden branch, but American citizens are being denied banking services)
  • Postfinance (does not provide credit to Swiss citizens living in America). It’s partners, Valiant and Münchener Hypothekenbank don’t want US persons.
  • SwissLife (insurances)
  • AMFIE (according to CERN)
  • Credit Mutuel in St. Genis-Pouilly (according to CERN)
  • VP Bank (Lichtenstein, will have cut all ties to US customers by the end of 2012 but will finance mortgages for dual citizens if they invest around 50+k)
I have written my representation in the States on this issue, but they did not respond and took no action. I feel terribly unrepresented. Obama, Romney, Senator Bill Nelson and Vern Buchanon ignored the situation and took no action. Yet, the cause of the situation is US policy. Swiss banks are responding to US pressure.
In the United States, it is a federal crime to deny a person a mortgage based on their national origin, and yet the US government is pressuring banks to deny American citizens mortgages simply because they are US persons. I created a complaint with HUD on housing discrimination, but HUD deleted my complaint (see attachment). I called the Veterans Administration but was told that they do not help veterans who live overseas.
Yet, I’m not the only American citizen who is suffering from US policy. The US embassy in Bern stated that I was one of the lucky few who still has a bank account. I am in contact with two other American citizens who are being denied by banks the ability to refinance their mortgage. This problem is not only limited to Switzerland and is likely only going to get worse around the world.
I’ve blogged the letters to my representation and summarized the responses here: https://expatami.wordpress.com/
Americans abroad have been fighting to improve the situation for decades, but the situation has only grown worse. Since my representation has not responded, I am not going to wait for my representation to do nothing. Thus, I am working my way up my chain of representation to request a letter of recommendation to renounce my US citizenship. Sadly, this is the least that I can request, the most that America is willing to provide its citizens living abroad and it is the only way that I can ensure that my mortgage will be refinanced in February.
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Was informed on the 4th of September that the matter would be discussed, but heard nothing since.

Can America solve its international address problem? Nope.

Submitted to MittRomney.com

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Dear Romney,

A good problem to solve that others say can’t be solved and is politically beyond repair in the US of A, is your contact page.  It doesn’t allow for Americans living overseas to enter in the address where they live which is not in America.  If such a simple problem cannot be solved, then can any problem be solved?  Nope.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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No response and no action undertaken to solve the problem

Requesting letter of recommendation to renounce US citizenship from Congressman Vern Buchanan

Submitted to house.gov/buchanan using Swiss address in street address and Florida zip code

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Dear Vern Buchanan,

I just finished speaking with Keith Fitzgerald’s staff on this important issue.  I’m a US citizen living abroad who is registered to vote in your district.

Currently, the following banks are refusing to refinance my mortgage, as well as that of two other Americans, simply because we are US citizens and as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I’ve written my representation concerning issues facing American citizens living abroad, and received no response.  I also contacted VA loans and the US Department of Housing on housing discrimination but was told that they don’t help American veterans living abroad.

While it is understandable that the US government will not help Americans who do not live in America, it is not understandable that the US government pressures banks abroad to refuse to refinance the mortgages of American citizens.

As such, I am requesting from you a letter of recommendation that I renounce my US citizenship since such is currently the only means that I can refinance my mortgage with many banks.  If you have any better suggestions, then let it be heard.  Keith Fitzgerald’s staff claimed that they would take unspecified action on this if they had your job, and thus I’m writing to you to see which action you may be willing to take.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]
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No Response.  Received an unpersonalized, generic automated e-mail response, but that’s more than nothing.

Letter to Vice President Joseph Biden

Dear Vice President Joseph Biden,

I’m an American veteran living abroad in Switzerland.  I’ve been doing my fair share of filing taxes and FBAR’s, but now the following banks are telling me that they will not refinance my mortgage simply because I’m a US person, as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I’ve contacted the VA Home Loans and HUD, but both informed me that they will not do anything for Americans living overseas.

Thus, please call these banks and explain to them that US policy now has changed in such a manner that they no longer have any reason to deny US persons mortgages due to US policy.  As you must know, it is a federal crime in the US to deny a person a mortgage based on their national origin and thus it is certainly unacceptable that American citizens are being denied mortgages as a result of US policy.

If you are unable to call the banks to inform them that US policy changed, then please explain to the American people why the US government is causing unnecessary harm to  Americans living abroad.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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I got an email from Joe Biden through democrats.org, asking me to make a donation of $3 or more.

International Address concerning Americans abroad

The following letter was submitted through Junior Senator Marco Rubio’s contact page.

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Dear Junior Senator Marco Rubio,

I’m a Florida veteran and US citizen living abroad and I was wondering if your contact page could be modified so that Americans abroad can contact you using the address where they live?  You have an option for “Military Personnel” stationed outside of Florida, but what about Americans who live and work in other countries?

Regards,

[ExpatAmi]
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No response

Letter to Keith Fitzgerald

Dear Keith Fitzgerald,

I’m a Floridan living abroad, registered to vote in your district and I was wondering what you know about the various issues concerning Americans living abroad, what you have done for them in past and what you plan on doing if elected.  Since I do not live in the States, this issue is quite important to me and plays a significant role in how I will place my vote.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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No response

Are Americans abroad excluded from the chance to meet Connie Mack and Anne Romney at the Republican National Convention?

Dear Connie Mack,

The official rules to be a VIP guest at the upcoming event with Ann Romney state:

“The Promotion is open to citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States who are legal residents of one of the fifty states, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia and are at least 18 years of age or the age of majority as determined by state law.”

Does this exclude Americans living abroad who are not residents of the 50 States, Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia?

Regards,

[ExpatAmi] – Floridan abroad

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No response

Failed attempt to donate to Obama’s campaign

Hi Obama and friends,

Yesterday, I wanted to contribute $1000 to help your campaign but couldn’t since I neither live in the 50 States nor Puerto Rico.  I then also learned that I cannot enter the contest to attend the Democratic National Convention even though I am a US citizen, simply because I live abroad.  Why is it that residents of Puerto Rico can enter the contest to attend the Democratic National Convention, while Americans abroad may not do the same even though they may vote in US elections?  Certainly this is a mistake, or is it?

Kind regards

[ExpatAmi]

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Got an email with a link where Americans abroad can contribute using their foreign address (required for foreign credit cards), but no word if Americans abroad can participate in the sweepstakes.

Prevented from contributing $20.12 to Congressman Connie Mack

Honorable Connie Mack

A few days ago, I got an email from you asking for me to contribute $20.12 to your campaign to help you to defeat Senator Bill Nelson.  While I would love to donate $20.12 to help you to win the election, unfortunately I can neither donate to you nor Senator Bill Nelson since both contribution pages do not accept the addresses of Floridans living abroad.  Thus, I just wanted to let you know that I tried to contribute but was prevented from doing so.

Kind regards

[ExpatAmi]

PS.  You may remember that I wrote to you on the 4th of August since banks were refusing to refinance my mortage simply because I’m a US person, as a result of US policy.  I also addressed the matter to Bill Nelson twice, but neither you nor Bill Nelson responded.  While it is common knowledge that Americans abroad are unrepresented, it is good to know that you at least made the effort to request donations from those being denied banking services simply for being Florida residents.
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No response