Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Linus Torvalds became US citizen (gmane.org)
176 points by sasvari on Sept 14, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 175 comments

I'm sick of all these low-wage foreign workers stealing our precious jobs.

They only take the jobs you don't want. Like cleaning hotels and hacking kernels.

"Like cleaning hotels and hacking kernels."

For the vast majority of Americans, the former is probably a more desirable profession than the latter.

That's the joke!

Now Linus can make the same complaint.

I wish my country was like yours too!

Dude, Linus Torvalds is not a low-wage foreign worker. He has done more to provide you with a job than you have done to get yourself a job.

Opensource softwares have helped the US economy because lots of today's internet giants like Google benefitted from the use of opensource tools. They are paying taxes and employing Americans, ain't they. Linus Torvalds is synomymous with opensource.

Mr America, if i might ask, what have you done to provide a job for yourself, because if you can't even provide a job for yourself, how do you provide for others.

Make yourself competitive, read more and stay away from TV etc and you will soon land a job.

The irony here is obvious, but I'm not exactly sure what to infer from it. I've always felt that this one of the big problems with irony in debates that merit serious discussion - they allow someone to mock an opposing point of view, but not really (really?). I suppose that this is part of the purpose of irony as well, to keep people on their toes, and make them think about things in new ways.

Irony can also be used to put a clearly stupid sentence into someone else's mouth, and then claim, when that other person objects, that they just don't get irony.

I'm not sure what the intent is here, but the way I read it, the post may have been intended to mock people who believe that large scale employment-based visa programs (like the H1B) have had some negative effects, displacing some US citizens in the tech job market and deterring other Americans from entering the field altogether. The post suggests that these people would oppose the presence (and naturalization, I guess) of extremely talented foreign nationals or immigrants.

All I can say is that even the most ardent opponents of the H1B visa (such as Norman Matloff) strongly support a substantial number of visas for talented people (I think his ideal figure was 15,000/yr). So aside from the true bozos on various discussion forms, there's pretty much nobody in this debate who would make a statement like this (oh, but nobody did, it's irony. Right? Or is it?)

Clearly, this was an extremely popular post (over 100 karma points), and I suspect that's because it goes to the heart of what has made a lot of people so frustrated with the current H1B/employment immigration system. And if you feel this way, you probably see the post as kind of brilliant, rather than a cheap shot.

To me, this has always been the problem with bringing irony into a debate that is actually pretty complicated and nuanced.

Before you ask, you've been downvoted for failing to grasp irony.

One more thing to consider for any other europeans thinking of moving to America:

1, they don't understand irony

2, they carry guns

Ah, I think I see the problem. We call that "sarcasm". Quite a lot of us get that just fine, though of course the internet can always turn up at least one person who doesn't. "Irony" is reserved for events that are only ironic in the light of other events; death by drowning isn't "ironic" until it happens to a swimming instructor, for instance. You can't really say something ironic, it has to happen. (And if you say something ironic it is a description of a thing that happened.)

This is, in part, incorrect. "Irony" is in its original (from Ancient Greek) and primary usage a rhetorical form -- in other words, something intentionally used by a speaker. Experts disagree on whether "verbal irony" and "sarcasm" are the same thing -- sarcasm might require a kind of sharp, biting tone. But the original comment is certainly ironic.

A situation like your drowning example is also irony; sometimes to be explicitly this is called "situational irony" as opposed to "verbal irony."

I apologize for being pedantic; mostly I just wanted a justified link to Silva Rhetoricae: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/I/irony.htm (but see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony).

Allow me to be pedantic right back. I did not say "sarcasm is". I said "we call that sarcasm". It's not really to label a description of how a word is used as "incorrect" and use a proscription as evidence. My fourth sentence was a bit regrettably absolutely phrased but the context of my statement should be set by then.

I don't even care if that's true of all of us Americans, it's true of enough. (The idea that Americans don't get "sarcasm" is very foreign to me; oh, I certainly know people who don't get it but we seem a fairly sarcastic culture to me.)

Okay. I think those sources are descriptive, but to be sure, here is the American Heritage Dictionary (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irony), an explicitly descriptive dictionary about American usage. It seems to agree with the other sources that irony can be and is often used in this case.

On the other hand, one can reasonably believe that every dictionary is, by its nature as a reference book, primarily prescriptive (and proscriptive) and therefore cannot be reliably descriptive. If so, then it seems we do have to go only with personal observations.

In terms of personal observations, I agree with you that many Americans I know would use "sarcasm" in this case and not use "irony." I think I (along with many other Americans, maybe fewer than the other group?) would use "irony" and probably not use "sarcasm" because it doesn't have that particular, hard-to-miss sarcastic tone of voice.

That's true - should have said sarcasm, but I can't change it because of the guns = irony joke. Now that's ironic.

Guns are pretty irony

And most importantly, we use periods where you guys use commas. ;p

That wasn't irony. THIS is irony (i.e. that the person who called out the other guy for not understanding irony, happens to not actually know the difference between irony and sarcasm himself) :P

ewjordan's Law of Irony: in any Internet discussion of sufficient length where the word "irony" is used, someone will call out the poster for using it incorrectly. This is true whether or not the original usage was proper or not, and with high probability the original complaint will be followed up by a comment on the irony of the critic not understanding the definition of the word "irony". Bonus points are awarded based on how many levels this back and forth continues.

Alanis Morissette will be brought up in at least 50% of these cases, though the precise frequency depends inversely on the level of sophistication of the forum members.

Oblig. oatmeal link: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/irony

Sarcasm is a subset of irony.

What? I didn't say anything outright wrong, though it's a subject of some controversy. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Verbal_irony_and_sarcasm

More specifically: Some psycholinguistic theorists (e.g., Gibbs, 2000) suggest that sarcasm ("Great idea!", "I hear they do fine work."), hyperbole ("That's the best idea I have heard in years!"), understatement ("Sure, what the hell, it's only cancer..."), rhetorical questions ("What, does your spirit have cancer?"), double entendre ("I'll bet if you do that, you'll be communing with spirits in no time...") and jocularity ("Get them to fix your bad back while you're at it.") should all be considered forms of verbal irony.

Few crimes deserve a harsher sentence.

glad to see the reddit crowd made it over

"If your account is less than a year old, please don't submit comments saying that HN is turning into Reddit. (It's a common semi-noob illusion.)"


Not an illusion in this case: that deep hierarchy of one-liners dominating the top of the thread is unmistakably Redditesque.

granted. but in my 276 days since creating my account (I've been reading for over a year), this is the first thread I've actually been let down by, where there are highly upvoted posts which add zero value to the discussion.

Man, it's the Internet.

indeed. Sadly, above your comment is the start of a pun thread. The first I've seen on HN, and regrettably doubtfully the last.

Ugh. Yeah, that wasn't the set of comments I expected to generate either.

Sometimes I post a comment that I personally expect to be genuinely worth 27 points. That wasn't one of them. You have my sincere apologies.

This is actually directed at kiuyhjk's reply, not your's philwelch, but... uh, there's no reply link on kiuyhjk's post in my browser (Chrome 6.0.472.51 beta on Fedora 12)

Anyway, kiuyhjk - very funny post, very meta

HN policy to avoid flame wars, AFAIK: the reply button is delayed before it appears for a specific post. seems to be around 4 minutes, at least for the deepness of this conversation.

so, just be more patient in the future ...

Oh. OK, Thanks for that. I wonder how I managed to miss that little detail! And hey, bonus point, I just discovered that when people continue to downvote you, it still hits your karma, even if the visible post count stops at -4. Two things I've learned about HN today :)

It's called a "joke"

Perhaps Poe's Law applies here?: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poes_Law

A quick check of Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_nationality_law#Dual_ci...) seems to indicate that he's still a Finn, since Finland permits dual citizenship.

The USA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_nationality_law#D...) seems to permit it, too.

Of course I can't know if Mr Torvalds has done anything in particular to only be a US citizen, but at least that doesn't seem to be the default.

But don't you have to renounce all other allegiances?

Uruguayan law says that even if you renounce your uruguayan citizenship, you still keep it. I think this was put in place exactly because lots of Uruguayans were leaving for the USA (lots of Uruguayans is something like 50).

I'm a dual citizen of the UK and US.

Among my close friends, I know Canadian, Israeli, and Australian dual-citizens.

I've never heard of having to "renounce all other allegiances". (Note: it's entirely possible that there is some obscure method of obtaining US citizenship that requires it; but that's not the norm.)

I'm a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen, although I was born so in both countries (born to American parents on Canadian soil). I've never once had to worry about this whole renunciation thing.

Additionally, my brother became a Canadian citizen (born U.S.), and again had no problems; Canada didn't care about his U.S. citizenship, and the U.S. doesn't care about his Canadian citizenship. He could officially renounce his U.S. citizenship by walking into a consulate and doing so, but there's no up-side to it.

There may be some upside to renounce a citizenship to do with avoiding extradition. But unless you plan to get involved in criminal investigations, it's probably not worth it.

If America would get a draft again, could a dual citizen be drafted?

Yes; as far as the U.S. is concerned, you're a citizen, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other. If there's a draft, you'll be called upon.

If that were to happen, there would definitely be an upside to renunciation. ;-)

Just watch out for when both sides call a draft.

And worse, go to war with each other. It happened back in 1812 you know...

Then you are a double-agent -- for both sides.

This is a problem for Turkish man living in Germany with dual citizenship.

Some countries don't allow dual citizenship. My German friends had to renounce their German citizenship when they became Americans (again for the green card). It made it very tricky tax-wise when their parents died and they suddenly became foreigners (to Germany) owning a lot of German assets.

as far as I know, it's possible to apply for keeping your German citizenship when gaining the one of another country. you have to justify it with family relations or something like that. at least it's possible, but I don't know about the trouble you have with that ...

Indeed. You also keep your German or Austrian citizenship if you did not apply for the other citizenship (e.g. if someone was born from German parents in Australia).

In general different countries have (very) different sets of rules, see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_citizenship

If you're born a dual Citizen then it's not a problem. If on the other hand a non-US citizen applies to become a US-citizen then they will be asked to "renounce all other allegiances". However depending on what your other "allegiances" are the US will not bother too much about following up on it.

Also if you volunteer (as opposed to being conscripted) for military duty in your non-US nations then the US can kick up a fuss.

But basically if you're a dual citizen with a nation friendly to the US then you really have nothing to worry about.

I went through the naturalization process, most likely the same process that Linus Torvalds went through. When you take your Oath of Allegiance, you swear to renounce all foreign affiliations. However, the US government does not check that you actually go through with that formally. Since many countries do not revoke your citizenship upon you acquiring another, most naturalized people do hold dual citizenships.

As far as I know, Uncle Sam only gets pissed when you acquire another citizenship after you are already an American (either by birth or by naturalization). Even so, there are provisions in the law that account for the situation when a second citizenship is bestowed upon you without you actively requesting it (some countries do that automatically when you marry one of their citizens)

Actually, Uncle Same doesn't care if you acquire a second citizenship. I'm American by birth and Canadian by naturalization, and I have responsibilities to both countries, but neither really cares that I'm a citizen of the other.

No, the USA does not require that.

yes it does ... verbally ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_%28United_St...

But it doesn't mean that you actually renounce citizenship of your home country.

It does actually, but many countries such as Canada do not recognize it - they have their own process to renounce Canadian citizenship, and since you didn't follow it, you're still a citizen.

>But it doesn't mean that you actually renounce citizenship of your home country.

Well from the linked Wikipedia page it does mean that you actually renounce citizenship. It's pretty clear in having you state that is the case. If you actually don't then you are lying.

>"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

For example if your former country required you to submit a form renouncing citizenship / sovereignty then taking the Oath and not having done that seems a highly dishonourable thing to do (ie IMO you're lying).

From that Oath (granted my first viewing of it in full) it seems that no truthful person could become a citizen of both America and some other place unless they were American first and no longer made that Oath on any occasion.

That's interesting. I've heard that dual citizenship wasn't exactly liked by the US government. I was under the impression that US citizens that move to other countries had to renounce their US citizenship before becoming citizen of the other country.

That might be so, but you're definitely not required to drop your citizenship elsewhere if you become a citizen here: the US just wants to be your 'number one' squeeze, as it were.

Also, the US really hates it when you change your nationality for tax purposes. That is, when you change it AWAY from the US for tax purposes.

Not true. You can hold US Citizenship and gain citizenship of other countries as well. The question is whether the other country will allow you to keep your US citizenship or not.

For example, I believe Singapore requires you to renounce any other citizenship you have if you are eligible to become a Singaporean.


Struck down by the courts a very long time ago.

Right, you can still do it but there can be some awkward consequences.

This is highly unlikely, but for instance if you're eligible for a draft, and both countries draft you, one of them is not going to be happy with your response.

There are probably some more likely scenarios where your obligations to one of your nations are in conflict with the other.

It also has security clearance implications. Also if he moves back to Finland but remains a US citizen won't the IRS still be able to go after him for tax?

Yes, United States citizens are liable for taxation on their worldwide income (unless there is a tax treaty between the United States and the other country in question).

Only over some threshold (iirc, though it has been some time, around 80k USD equivalent). So maybe yes for someone with a comparatively high income, but not so much a worry for a reasonably large segment of the population. Naturally if this happens to apply to anyone reading I would urge consulting a professional for current advice. ;)

The US has tax treaties with most developed countries, including Finland.

You still need to file tax returns, even if you are under the limit to prove that you owe no tax.

Read that more carefully: "The Supreme Court chose to leave in place the requirement that new citizens must renounce their old citizenship during US naturalization." Presumably, Linus was naturalized, rather than having a claim to United States citizenship from birth.

I did read it more carefully. The next sentence says essentially says that that has no effect (in the vast majority of cases), because other countries don't recognize it as renouncing citizenship. It's essentially ceremonial.

Be that as it may, dual citizenship is definitely allowed, and not at all uncommon in the U.S., especially among European immigrants from what I've seen.

> I've heard that dual citizenship wasn't exactly liked by the US government. I was under the impression that US citizens that move to other countries had to renounce their US citizenship before becoming citizen of the other country.

Definitely not true, or at least not mandated by the US (the other country might require it, though).

That totally depends on the country. I'm a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt.

Most countries allow dual citizens. Also, I do know that some people have triple citizenships.

Countries are such an old-school concept somehow.

EDIT: Downvotes? Come on. Especially today, especially in our world of modern technology, physical location is less important than ever before. Where's the sci-fi novel where they abolished countries after they found out we all live on a tiny planet orbiting one of a billion stars?

Welcome to Europe. 500 years ago it was mostly principalities and city states, tried empires for a while, then we had countries for a few 100 years - now we are trying to abolish them again. It's very much a British (actually English) idea that countries are eternal and inviolate.

IIRC Singapore and a bunch of other high tech SE Asian countries essentially did the same thing. Anybody with a high tech qualification, eg a CS degree, could live and work in any of the club no questions asked.

> It's very much a British (actually English) idea that countries are eternal and inviolate.

France is pretty nationalistic too, no? They're one of the harshest countries in Europe in terms of minority languages, if I recall correctly.

But only since about 1880. Before that 'France' was only about 20% of the country and only about 20% spoke French.

There was a huge effort to create a single nation, similar to the unification of Germany and Italy around the same time.

Their attitude to the language rather shows that - nobody in England thinks English needs 'protecting'.

English is 'open source', French is 'the cathedral'.

It shows in their proliferation patterns too.

Whats the quote?

Other languages borrow foreign words - English lures them into dark alleys and goes through their pockets for any grammer they might have.

The original quote is:

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle [sic] their pockets for new vocabulary.

ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Nicoll

Government should be as local as possible because it gives the most power to individuals to govern themselves. In the US, theoretically, the feds are not really supposed to be able to do much, though obviously that's not how things have worked out.

I don’t think local government contradicts freedom of movement. It seems to me that both is possible, with little federal oversight. The biggest problem is inequality – the EU is perfectly happy to open the borders between its very similar member states but will vigorously protect its outer border.

It's not really about freedom of movement and I guess it's only applicable in representative government. But if you have a federal representative thousands of miles away in DC that has 5 million constituents and a state representative dozens of miles away at the state capitol with 50,000 constituents, you're going to have a lot more impact with the state representative.

The USA is basically the same idea as the EU, it is just supposed to be the international face of our amalgamation of nearby states that have formed an alliance for their mutual protection and simplification. The real laws (i.e. not treaties or other international matters) are supposed to be implemented at the state level or lower.

There is more to a country than being a place of work.

Sure, but this is also true for the city you are in, the neighborhood and the street.

I'm not historian but I suppose throughout history the space that we call home became bigger and bigger as time went by. Perhaps first it was a cave, at some point it was a village, then it was a city and eventually it was a country.

I guess what I mean is that eventually countries will go away. And calling them "old-school" was assuming we were there yet. But maybe we are not yet. But surely you would agree one day this day will come?

I don't see that happening ever. Not unless the human condition changes significantly. I currently see it more likely that we will end up with more countries, not less countries.

If countries "go away", what do you suggest they would be replaced by?

Ideally the EU will allow more micro-countries.

50 years ago it was difficult to be a city-state, Monaco couldn't have it's own currency, army , foreign embassies.

Now it would be much easier for eg. Scotland/ Bavaria/ Flemish-Belgium to become a country again - they would have a euroepean central bank/currency/etc but could handle everything else locally instead of in a capital city 100mi away that is only the same 'country' because of a battle 500years ago.

Things like the European Union. It's not always pretty but it works.

Perhaps after that it will be planets (if you like Futurama), or religions, philosophies or even brands. :) Who knows.

The EU isn't a country though, and it will never be one; different cultures have different values and often don't want to live under the same set of laws. Personally, I think this is a good thing. If you're oppressed under one countries set of laws at least you always have the option of leaving.

But he was arguing against countries not against cultures. Borders of countries don't always overlap with linguistic, cultural, other borders.

the eu is very much like a single country in some respects.

> different cultures have different values and often don't want to live under the same set of laws.

different regions of america have different cultures and values, and yet you wouldn't question the status of the us.

> If you're oppressed under one countries set of laws at least you always have the option of leaving.

actually, no. it is precisely because of this offensive notion of citizenship that people are NOT free to leave the country they find themselves in.

what needs to go away is this notion of nationality, bestowed by the coincidence of birth.

yes. symptom of a dark age.

I'll guess he originally came in on an EB2(C) visa, which is for people of exceptional ability in their field who the US will allow in, regardless of whether or not they have a specific job offer.

This means that, until he became a citizen, he'd immigration status in the US would have been: "exceptional alien".

That's not a status i'd give up easily. :)

Is there also an expedited path to citizenship for "exceptional alien" ?

I was reading an article today about an Indian nanny who saved the life of a 2 year old Israeli boy during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Israel honored her by granting her honorary citizenship and temporary residency in Israel.

Link : http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/09/14/israel.mumbai....

N.B.: Indian citizens cannot be dual nationals: if they accept citizenship or a passport from another country, they lose their Indian citizenship. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_nationality_law#Automati...) I assume this is why the nanny’s Israeli citizenship is only “honorary”.

This is absolutely incorrect. EB2 Visa (i.e. Employment Based Category 2 Visa) definitely needs employer sponsorship. Also, there is no EB2 (C) category. (C) -> Probably specifies that the particular visa category is 'Current'.

The first two categories require a job offer. The third is for people who are so freakin' awesome that their mere presence will make the US a better place.

"National Interest Waiver - Aliens seeking a national interest waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. [...] Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them)"


So, it is employment based, but without any sponsorship required from a particular employer. You're self-certifying that you're really really really good at what you do, and what you can offer to the US will benefit the US as a whole.

They will, of course, want lots of evidence to support the above.

The upside to this route is that you're not tied to a particular employer.

Even more interesting, he's interested in the latency work that Desnoyers was working on last week.

Now he'll never get rid of US taxes.

Yep. U.S. citizens get the benefit of their worldwide income being taxed.

Only income above the equivalent of $80,000.

It's now up to $91,400 (http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,...).

Plus if your income is in, say, Europe, it's effectively all excluded, because you can offset the European taxes (which are usually higher) one-for-one against U.S. taxes, ending up owing nothing.

Probably better for him if he doesn't have to pay taxes to Finland, since they're much higher.

He doesn't pay taxes to Finland because he's not living in Finland.

(Only certain countries like the USA tax their non-resident citizens.)

If you are a citizen of a country with a territorial tax system, but make your money in the US. Who taxes your income?

The US taxes income made in the US, or by US citizens outside the US.

Not to be all nationalistic or anything (and it's been said before), but it is interesting that people seem to immigrate to the U.S. far more than they emigrate from it.

I think not learning a second language has a lot to do with it. It's easy for most Europeans to pick up another language since they've already mastered a foreign language or two (including English).

But it's much harder for someone from the US to move to central Europe, aside from the UK and some enclaves that speak English.

That is certainly part of it. But I also think some other countries do a worse job welcoming immigrants. Japan notoriously so. Is it easy to become a citizen of China or India if you want to "outsource yourself"? The EU gives essentially a free migration pass to all member countries, but how is it coming from outside of Europe?

Any of you hackers care to comment on the situation in your nation of origin, or the one where you live?

I'm an American in the process of getting a Danish work permit, and it's easy so far, but they seem to have a special fast-track category for "researchers", and a Danish university is sponsoring me. I assume I couldn't just move there on my own. On the other hand, Linus also fits a fairly easy profile, so could probably get a work permit almost anywhere (highly educated and internationally famous engineer with steady employment).

Getting Danish citizenship, though, is notoriously difficult, and among other requirements, they require you to renounce any other citizenships (unlike the U.S., they actually enforce this requirement). Many foreigners, as a result, live in Malmö, Sweden and commute to Copenhagen (it's about a 30-minute train ride over the bridge/tunnel), since Sweden's citizenship laws are more lax, and once you have EU citizenship you're essentially good anywhere in the EU.

That is generally true for all developed countries.

Except Ireland. We're generally very good at getting the hell out of dodge when the government manages to do something horrible to the economy.

For centuries, even. That's how so many of you got over here!

I was under the impression that Ireland is/was the Celtic tiger (of Europe).

A lot of US companies put their HQ in Ireland because, they speak English (mostly), they have very low corporation tax and lots of golf courses - the Irish government also did an excellent job of marketing Irish-American links.

Unfortunately as soon as the EU cracked down on the corporation tax scams, eastern europe became cheaper and US companies cut back on golfing holidays they realized they didn't actually have an economy. But it was a great place to work for 10years - as long as you didn't buy a house!

Most of those companies have pretty large complexes in Ireland. Intel has 2 fabs, Google has a large (for Dublin) office complex as their HQ and MS has their own campus.

As far as tax havens go we actually had quite a lot of people from those companies employed, it wasn't just your standard shell company running out of a solicitors office.

Google makes £1.25 billion/year in the UK but doesn't pay any tax because it's HQ is in Ireland, in Australia it makes a loss on $1Bn sales because it's all charged back to Dublin.

MSFT, Dell and HP both apparently lose money on all sales in Europe except those in Ireland.

I'm not arguing that American companies aren't taking advantage of this. All I'm saying is that they aren't just shell companies setup in Ireland. There are Eastern European countries with lower corporate tax rates, if the only reason they were in Ireland was the tax break they would have upped and left year ago. The only reason they are still there is because they actually have infrastructure and campuses.

Was is the correct tense there. The current round of bank bailouts have been pretty crippling. We aren't quite Iceland or Greece but we are up to our necks in debt.

Perhaps because those in it are unaware that there are any countries out of it?

When good americans die - they go to Paris

I know quite a few immigrants who love the standard of living but hate how USA dismembers them of their cultural identity and plan to emigrate back home or to some other place (truth be told not many did so far).

Not to mention hundreds of thousands of americans planning to retire abroad.

I wonder what happens if you want your U.S. citizenship back (not reversing the renunciation).

This makes me proud :)

What of exactly?

The USA, for being appealing enough to make Linus want to (first) move here and (now) take on citizenship, instead of just telnetting from Finland - or anywhere else on the planet he might have liked better.

Or being so inflexible with regard to immigration that the only way to work there without facing immediate deportation if you change jobs is to become a citizen.

I can live and work permanently in 27 countries (including Finland) without having to change nationality.

I'm pretty sure it's 30. I have an Icelandic citizenship (Iceland is one of the 30 in the EEA), and I'm working freely in one of the 27 EU countries currently.

All I had to do after I moves was to register with the local city authorities to indicate that I had moved there, and provide documentation proving that I had a job so that they knew they didn't have to put me on social security.

One might also make the counterpoint that while we can move between 30 states in the EEA US citizens can move between 50 states in their union, and their superstate comprises almost twice the surface area of the EU.

US is almost twice the size (1/6 of which is Alaska), but the EEA has 60% more people, which is probably a better measure of jobs.

There are some differences, a US friend of mine did law in the UK which meant she could work anywhere from Finland to Greece. But when she passed the New York bar she couldn't work in New Jersey.

No. She could 'work in law' in the same way in New Jersey as she could in Greece - as a 'jurist' or 'company lawyer', but not initiate court proceeding. Being admitted to the bar in one Member State does not automatically mean admittance to the bar in another Member State, nor does it even mean that one is eligible to just take the bar exam in that other Member State (although this last part is under proceedings before the European Court for restricting movement of persons within the Union.

In contrast, one doesn't even need a law school degree to be able to take the bar exam in any US state. (admittedly it's almost impossible to pass without one).

> one doesn't even need a law school degree to be able to take the bar exam in any US state

Not quite: In a number of US states, a prerequisite to taking the bar exam is either graduation from an ABA-accredited law school, or a foreign law degree with additional training in a U.S. school. See Chart III at http://www.ncbex.org/fileadmin/mediafiles/downloads/Comp_Gui... and the supplemental remarks afterwards, also Chart X.

I stand corrected, thank you.

Not as a qualified lawyer she couldn't - even within the UK there are different legal systems that require you to qualify separately. There is a lot more to being a lawyer/solicitor than getting a law degree. (e.g. Here in Scotland it is a further post graduate qualification plus two years training in a law firm before you qualify).

Incorrect. Green card holders (i.e., US permanent residents, but non-citizens) do not face "immediate deportation" if they change jobs.

No but it's still a hassle not being a citizen - especially if you travel a lot.

By contrast Canadian permanent residents are treated exactly the same as citizens - except you can't vote in federal elections. Although with the choices on offer that's probably a blessing !

That's not the case with my family, at least. My mom was a green-card holder for almost 40 years until she finally got her citizenship a few years ago, and there was never any real hassle. She eventually got her citizenship mostly to simplify retirement planning (if she and my dad, who's a U.S.-born citizen, had different citizenships, apparently things get complicated with things like pensions and survivorship). I guess that's a kind of hassle, but a very cerebral one; she didn't get hassled at customs or anything, at least any more than I do. Probably being a middle-aged woman with an American family made her fit a low-risk profile anyway, but becoming a citizen has basically made no difference for her on that side of things.

Never had a green card - but going in and out of the USA on a european country passport with an H1-B was always a hassle.

Especially one return from a conference where the minimum-wage-moron on passport control didn't understand the concept of visas (to be fair he had a limited understanding of the concept of passports or even other countries) and allowed me in for 24 hours which I spent queuing at LA's delightful immigration office downtown.

Still, well done to him for protecting the USA from another foreign Caltech physics prof.

Ah yeah, I could imagine that. Foreign passport + visa puts you in the "foreigner" line, even if it's a long-term visa, which is usually slower and typically has more suspicious / less helpful staff. Green card holders get to go through the "U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents" line, which is a bit friendlier and faster.

(Not that I disagree that the whole setup is ridiculous and probably doesn't meaningfully add to security.)

I think that's the kind of hassle he was referring to. =)

To be fair, that's like saying I can live in and work permanently in 50 states and a handful of territories, protectorates, and possessions without having to change nationality.

The funny thing is that in practice US must be the most flexible developed country regarding immigration.

There are more than 12 millions illegal immigrants in US. Illegal immigrants owns houses, driver cars and go to college. I find it amazing. In Japan, if you're an illegal immigrant you're pretty much relegated to the underworld.

> I can live and work permanently in 27 countries (including Finland) without having to change nationality.

How? I'd love to be able to do that.

He is a EU Citizen. That’s not that much better than the freedom to work or live wherever you want within the US. It only sounds so impressive because those 27 nations are all substantially smaller than the US. It’s nonetheless one of those achievements of European integration I most certainly don’t want to give up.

The US (mostly) all speaks the same language and has a much more similar set of laws and a largely homogeneous society.

By comparison e.g. Spain and Germany and almost any two countries in the EU you care to name speak different languages, are very different culturally, and have different customs.

Thats the big advantage - imagine having a choice of bread or cheese that actually tastes different!

Apart from a few of the more 'third world' european countries (like France) if you speak english and work in high tech it's not a big problem to work in Scandanavia/Germany/Netherlands. The main difficulty is they drive on the wrong side of the road - but as consolation the coffee and women are much better.

> Apart from a few of the more 'third world' european countries (like France)

How is France a third world country in any sense of the word? Because they don't speak English as much?

> The main difficulty is they drive on the wrong side

That's only in the UK, not Scandanavia/Germany/Netherlands.

The UK drives on the _right_ side. The other countries merely drive on the right side.

What the heck is with the "third world" comment on France? Have you ever been there?

Sorry - can't link to the replies.

It was 'irony' - France is notorious for obeying only those EU laws which benefit it. In particular there are lots of unofficial barriers to other EU individuals/companies working in France - even though they are legally allowed to. Is't common for various levels of government to delay required licencing for years.

It's an issue even with international collaborations - the European Space agency is in the Netherlands and CERN is officially HQed in Switzerland - there was a lot of concern over ITER before it was built in France, the French 'promised' to play nicely with people working there.

Wow, who put the more money initially in ESA and ITER? It's France, beside one of the 4 fields medal this year was a Vietnamese that had worked in France many years (then was recently naturalized) it's maybe not too bad to work in France when you're a foreigner. And frankly I've traveled in almost all EU and the two countries with the more immigration IMO are France and UK. "France is notorious for obeying only those EU laws which benefit it" a great thing of EU it's when one of its member does not respect the laws and treaties there are sanctions so the law is the same for every EU nations. Stop spreading FUD, please.

The US was a lot like that 200 years ago. Give the EU some time, they'll homogenize.

They had the last millennia to homogenize and it didn’t happen. The United States really are very much unlike Europe. That’s not to say it won’t happen but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion.

Yeah, but it's been what, 60 years since they stopped trying to invade each other? I don't think it's a foregone conclusion either, but I think it's definitely the trend the EU is on.

A lot of the countries in Europe have strong independent governments that were established long before the USA existed. European countries have large complex systems of law that have taken thousands of years to develop and grow. We also have hundreds of millions of people. What was the original population of the USA?

How difficult would it be to wipe and rewrite the constitution of the USA today? Imagine something 100 times more difficult than that, and that is how difficult it would be to create anything resembling the USA in Europe.

You could have given the same arguments 50 years ago to say Europe would never have a successful political union, continent-wide military alliance, or currency, and today they have all three.

Incidentally, I don't know about "a lot". Many European countries formed as unions of smaller states not that much longer ago than the colonization of America--the UK, Spain, Italy, and Germany all formed this way, Germany after the United States and the UK only a couple decades before. And nearly every country on the continent of Europe has already had its constitution rewritten within the past century.

I think two World Wars and the collapse of multiple empires might have had something to do with much of what you said above.

> That’s not that much better than the freedom to work or life wherever you want within the US. It only sounds so impressive because those 27 nations are all substantially smaller than the US.

As a US citizen, it's a very appealing idea. While we do indeed have 50 different places I can live and work without applying for new/temporary status, the cultural, and historic nature of the places is certainly not as diverse as in Europe.

it is, but you have to walk a bit farther from the main road :)

By living in a European country.

I'm not sure why we're both getting downvoted for this. It was a valid question, and a valid response. Thanks for the answer. I did not realize the EU had this privilege.

I suspect in my case it is because I said "European country" rather than "European Union country." Not all European countries are in the EU. The Wikipedia article on the EU has all sorts of interesting information:


Sure--but, if that's the case, you'd think someone would reply and correct you, instead of just blatantly down voting an otherwise "get the point across answer", and forcing you to speculate. :)

good for you, too bad the same flexibility does not apply to non-EU/EEA citizens like me who work legally in one of those countries but moving between them is nonetheless quite PIA.

You think he obtained American citizenship because he likes the USA more than any other country, including his home one?

You don't know his motives. Maybe he just did it because it's more convenient for him to currently work there, and constantly having to organise visas was a pain in the arse?

For all we know he hates the USA...?

For all we know he hates the USA...?

For all we know, he's the first in a series of genetically-engineered Finnish super-programmers, part of a growing sleeper cell of infiltrators hell(sinki)-bent on Finlandizing the USA via secret trapdoors in their code, all waiting for the flip of a single bit to instantly erase all memory of the Constitution and replace it with a Scandinavian welfare-state, then killing our leaders and converting us all to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland -- their state religion!

Or maybe he just likes living with his family in the Pacific Northwest. It's hard to tell, for all we know!

evl.fi - very suspicious domain name for a church.


And to bring it all back around: that an exceptional person who could easily choose to live in comfort in dozens of countries, chooses to live in the USA, is a legitimate source of pride for the locals.

The number one product of a legal jurisdiction is providing a desirable place to live. The political system is designed to make citizens feel like the local jurisdiction is 'their' product. When your target market embraces your product, pride is natural and healthy.

An immigrant doesn't have to 'love' the USA more than the mother country; indeed the freedom to still love the ancestral land but build cool stuff here is one of the USA's greatest hacks. (Brain drain FTW!) The immigrant's children will 'love' their new land; that's more like a chick imprinting than any rational choice.

It must be a cultural thing then. I can't personally imagine ever being proud of someone moving to the UK (where I live). I understand that Americans place a much higher value on patriotism than most of the developed World though.

It's bigger than that though. The whole concept of feeling proud about something to which you had no input seems very strange to me.

Well, the animating idea of modern democracies is that we do have input into governance. (Whether that's a foundational truism or a useful myth is a separate issue -- people are supposed to believe they have input, and most do believe that.) At least some of the difference between the governance of Portland versus Houston, or California versus Texas, or the USA versus the UK or Finland, is due to different preferences of the governed.

And, even ignoring formal political 'input' (or the simulacrum of same), we all make the culture and economy as neighbors and workers. When a smart, productive, and freedom-loving person with many options chooses to live closer to me, under the same standing rules, it's a positive indicator about my desirability as a neighbor and an external validator of choices I've made previously. Hence, 'pride'.

> to which you had no input

That depends. I assume you are the most google'able Mike from Bath Spa. I stayed in UK to finish Bath Uni, so lecturers from there could probably feel proud of creating an environment where I felt welcome enough to stay for a longer time. It was their input into my environment and education and it did make a difference, because I still live in Bath.

Then again, this would be a personal situation and not "I feel proud, because some known guy wants to live in my country".

I think this blog post goes a long way to explaining part of it:


It's gotta be really, really "convenient" to be worth the hassle of arranging visas over the last 14 years (since he started working at Transmeta in California in 1996). Citizenship might be less paperwork, but there are other downsides he's taking on as a citizen.


another excellent product originating in Finland

not sure why you got downvoted...

up voted for irony and funny comments.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact