An expatriation is when someone moves out of his homeland to reside somewhere else. This term has a more strict legal meaning that involves renouncing citizenship and taking up citizenship in a new country, but it can also be used more generally to refer to people who are living overseas. There can be legal repercussions to expatriation, depending on the nation one is leaving and the nation one is moving to.
Historically, expatriation involved forcible expulsion of citizens or denial of citizenship. For example, some nations have revoked the citizenship of deserters during wartime, leaving them stateless. In the modern era, the legal authority to strip people of their citizenship and forcibly expatriate them is limited. Instead, the decision is usually a choice made by the citizen.
In the loose sense, expatriation involves living and working abroad, not necessarily with the intent to remain abroad. Many multinational companies post their employees overseas for varying periods of time, as do national governments with their diplomatic corps. While an expatriate, a person retains the right to vote in her or his home nation and may have tax liabilities at home, in addition to tax liabilities in the nations where she or he is working.
More formally, expatriation involves leaving without the intent to return, and a renunciation of citizenship and allegiance to take up citizenship in a new country. Certain nations view nationalization or military service in another country as a sign that someone wishes to abandon citizenship. It is also possible for naturalized citizens to be stripped of their citizenship if they remain abroad too long or become naturalized in another country, in some cases.
Consultation with an embassy or state department can provide more information about expatriation. It is important to be aware of any legal ramifications before making a move, so that people can plan ahead. People who want to keep their citizenship at home, for example, may need to take steps to protect their interests, such as returning home periodically.
Movement between nations has been a common theme throughout human history. Historically, expatriates often gathered in enclaves in their new environs with people from their home nation. During the 1920s, for example, a group of American artists and writers lived in Paris to enjoy the fellowship of people from their home nations and produce their art, while also experiencing the environment of a foreign country. They were known as the Lost Generation and included such greats as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound. Some other notable communities of artists in various regions, from Cuba to South Africa, feature large numbers of expatriates who have gathered to form international communities with close ties.