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  #1  
Old 07-13-2009, 09:30 PM
snailboy snailboy is offline
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Is a passport/visa needed to visit/move to US territories?

Simple questions. Would a US citizen need a passport to visit one of the US territories? Would he need a visa to move there? Are the inhabitants considered US citizens? How would it work if they wanted to visit or move here? I know they don't get to vote, don't pay federal taxes (at least not all of them), etc.
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  #2  
Old 07-13-2009, 09:57 PM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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It would like just visiting another state.
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  #3  
Old 07-14-2009, 08:27 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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When I visited Puerto Rico, there was some sort of customs, at least in principle, but they didn't seem to bother individuals. No immigration control, however, and a US citizen can move freely back and forth (many Puerto Ricans do) and, AFAIK, Puerto Ricans are considered natural born US citizens. Just like Hawaians.
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:37 AM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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It depends on the particular territory, and the exact terms of the U.S. documents governing the relationship. AFAIK, citizens of all the U.S. territories are also citizens of the United States, so there shouldn't be travel restrictions. However, that's not the same as saying there are no customs checks, as some (all?) of the territories are outside the customs zone of the U.S. and, as such, you need to pass through customs to bring stuff in. Presumably you might have trouble if you don't have documentation of your citizenship. But there are no visa requirements for citizens of the territories to live and work on the mainland, or vice versa.

--Cliffy
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  #5  
Old 07-14-2009, 10:44 AM
Waffle Decider Waffle Decider is offline
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People from American Samoa are US nationals but not US citizens. They are entitled to live and work in the mainland without any restrictions, but they're not eligible to vote, jury duty, and probably a few other things.
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  #6  
Old 07-14-2009, 10:52 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waffle Decider View Post
People from American Samoa are US nationals but not US citizens. They are entitled to live and work in the mainland without any restrictions, but they're not eligible to vote, jury duty, and probably a few other things.
What are they citizens of then? Do they get US passports?
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  #7  
Old 07-14-2009, 11:10 AM
Waffle Decider Waffle Decider is offline
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I guess you can call them American Samoa citizens. They can get US passport, but it will be endorsed to show that the person is a non-citizen national. Cite. This wiki page should also be helpful.
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  #8  
Old 07-14-2009, 11:11 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Like others said, you can move freely to any of them but, for travel, it makes it a lot easier if you have a passport when you go from the mainland to say, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I once got stopped at a security checkpoint in San Juan, PR with my family for no known reason. I am obviously American and I think the agent was probably from the mainland as well. He blurted out "What is the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America?". I replied, "The right to bear arms!". He smiled, waved my whole family through and told me I was the first person that got that right all day. I have no idea what he did with the rest of the people. Maybe he was just a bored NRA member. A passport eliminates that type of problem especially if your U.S. history knowledge is a little stale.
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  #9  
Old 07-14-2009, 11:12 AM
friedo friedo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
What are they citizens of then? Do they get US passports?
They are citizens of American Samoa, and yes they get US passports. (If you look at your own passport, you'll notice that it says it is issued to United States citizens and nationals.)
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  #10  
Old 07-14-2009, 11:14 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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People from American Somoa are citizen of American Somoa. (As opposed to the independent nation of Somoa, fomerly Western Somoa)


This harks back to the day when America had possession overseas. The Supreme Court laid out a ruling for these territories, when the subject of "Do people in those places have the same constitutional rights?"

TSCOTUS came up with policies that were adopted into

Incorporated Territories (on their way to statehood or Commenwealthood)
Unicorporated Territories (ruled by the USA till a final decison could be determained)

Either of one of those would be additionally classed as organized (having their own government) or unorganized (being run by say, the Department of the Interior)

This was the way it was till after WWII. After which these defintions changed somewhat. Today for example the Virgin Islands and Guam are incorporated but are "in limbo" as they don't actively seek to be a commenwealth or a state (there are small groups in those places that do)

American Somoa was going to be classed as incorporated, but after WWII the chiefs of the island refused. They didn't want to give up potential independence. To oversimplify the navy used to rule over American Somoa, but the navy got sick of it, and in the 60s, the islands got their own government, after the Navy Dept withdrew.

So in a way American Somoa is similar to Guam or the US Virgin Islands, but through a bunch quirks they never got to be full citizens. This means according to the US Supreme Court rulings, the basic principals of the US Constitution applies. Much like the a foreigner visiting the US would have most of the rights afforded to citizens but not all of the rights.

Attempts to change the status of American Somoa have been met with, "We like it as it is."

Much like in Puerto Rico, the UN used to class Puerto Rico as a place that needed to be decolonized, but the Puerto Ricans, like it just as it is. Sure independence and statehood have some movements, but most Puerto Ricans like the status quo.

So American Somoa technically is "unorganized" it functions like an "organized territory." The Department of the Interior" runs it in theory, but the locals have a government that is elected and in practice runs it. American Somoans are free to move to the US and get jobs and live and if they want become citizens.

So the attitude is "we like it like this, and for the few who don't, they are free to become US citizens."

Last edited by Markxxx; 07-14-2009 at 11:16 AM..
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  #11  
Old 07-14-2009, 03:29 PM
snailboy snailboy is offline
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So it's a little more complicated than I figured, but it makes sense. I was thinking moving to one of them would be like moving to another country, and you wouldn't need a visa. That's interesting.
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  #12  
Old 07-14-2009, 04:14 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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So an American Samoan or USVIer cannot become President?
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  #13  
Old 07-14-2009, 04:31 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
So an American Samoan or USVIer cannot become President?
Someone from the US Virgin Islands could, no problem, because they're American citizens. It's a much grayer area when it comes to a citizen of American Samoa.
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  #14  
Old 07-16-2009, 12:35 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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I don't believe they're called citizens of American Samoa, rather they're called residents of that particular territory and nationals (not citizens) of the United States.
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  #15  
Old 07-16-2009, 12:59 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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After reading the cites, I figured it had to be some kind of historical remnant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
They are citizens of American Samoa, and yes they get US passports. (If you look at your own passport, you'll notice that it says it is issued to United States citizens and nationals.)
Actually, my passport says, "Nationality: Canadian", and adds a note, "The bearer of this passport is a Canadian citizen".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty View Post
I don't believe they're called citizens of American Samoa, rather they're called residents of that particular territory and nationals (not citizens) of the United States.
So they're not citizens of anywhere? At least they're not stateless, because they're nationals and residents of the US.

Last edited by Sunspace; 07-16-2009 at 01:01 AM..
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  #16  
Old 07-16-2009, 01:31 AM
UDS UDS is online now
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This gets confusing, because terms are not always used consistently.

As a matter of international law, there is no distinction between nationality and citizenship; the terms are interchangeable. If I am a visitor to country A, then so far as country A is concerned I am either under the consular protection of country B or I am not. At the risk of oversimplifying a little, so far as country A is concerned, a citizen/national of country B is someone in whom the government of country B takes a legitimate interest.

As a matter of the domestic law of country B, however, there can be various grades and classes of citizenship. Some may be labelled “citizen” and others “national” and others may have still other titles. The UK, for example, has “British Overseas Territories Citizens” and “British Protected Persons”, and a slew of other categories. Some of these people are not entitled to enter the UK, but they are still under the diplomatic protection of the British government and, so far as other governments are concerned, they are British citizens/nationals/subjects/[insert term of choice here].

So somebody who is, as a matter of US law, labelled a US national but not a US citizen, is not “stateless”. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, they are US citizens, under the consular protection of the US government, and with a right of entry into at least some territory where the US is sovereign.
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  #17  
Old 07-16-2009, 06:58 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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So I could move to one of the territorial possessions just like I was moving to Rhode Island?

I *think* I remember reading somewhere that certan forms of retirement pay were rescinded if you moved out of the US [or perhaps used to be?] and was wondering how retired expats managed after losing part of their retirement monies ...

Not that I want to move to the tropics, I hate being hot and sweaty .. and I need high speed internet for my WOW/EVE addiction =)

Unless we have a cold possession other than Alaska which is now a state?
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  #18  
Old 07-17-2009, 10:17 PM
Monty Monty is offline
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I'm currently living in the Republic of Korea and have been since February of 2005. I'm still drawing my military retirement pay.
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  #19  
Old 07-17-2009, 10:22 PM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
So they're not citizens of anywhere? At least they're not stateless, because they're nationals and residents of the US.
That's right. They're neither citizens nor stateless; they're nationals. There are still cases where a child is born stateless. I recall one back in Japan in the early 1990sL Neither parent could pass on their citizenship to the child and Japanese law prevented acquisition of Japanese citizenship at birth for the child.
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  #20  
Old 07-17-2009, 10:37 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
As a matter of international law, there is no distinction between nationality and citizenship; the terms are interchangeable....

As a matter of the domestic law of country B, however, there can be various grades and classes of citizenship....
Ah, okay, that makes a lot more sense.
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