Ways You Can Lose Your United States Citizenship 😱
According to the USCIS Policy Manual, you’ll lose your citizenship if:
There are laws that govern people who try and become a citizen but do it illegally. However, this could lead to getting your citizenship revoked.
If you were not eligible for citizenship and received it, you have broken the law. If any eligibility requirement for naturalization was not met, this is cause for the revocation of your citizenship. These requirements include
- Where you live
- Your legal residence
- How you were admitted to become a resident
- Being a good person
- Whether you are a law-abiding citizen
Someone who’s naturalized could have it revoked if they’ve deliberately lied on their naturalization application or failed to disclose a material fact.
In general, an applicant for naturalization may lose their citizenship if:
- They lied on their application
- They intentionally hid or changed information
- The lies and misrepresented facts were significant ones that changed the potential outcome
- They became a citizen as a result of these falsehoods
Your citizenship can be revoked if you provide false information during your naturalization process. This includes putting false information on the form as well as lying during your interview. Courts decide whether the misrepresented or omitted fact would have influenced the government’s decision to naturalize an immigrant. The threshold for materiality is if the misrepresentations could have possibly swayed the decision. It doesn’t matter if the information would have been enough to deny citizenship; it’s all about whether they had any effect on a potential decision.
Citizenship will be taken away if one becomes a member of, or affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years of naturalization. This is because someone who is involved with these groups unlikely to follow the Constitution while supporting the laws and behavior of United States culture and coommunities.
A person who becomes involved with such an organization within five years of naturalization is presumed to have concealed, willfully misrepresented, or gone back on their word regarding the means by which they became citizens.
D) Besides being Honorably Discharged (before Five Years of Honorable Service in the military) after Naturalization, one may lose their citizenship if:
- They became a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization after serving honorably in the US military.
- The person quit the military under other than honorable circumstances
- A non-honorable discharge takes place before serving for 5 total years in the military
Notable additional comments:
For a long time, the Department of Justice was working hard to remove citizenship status from suspected war criminals. The most notable people in this category who lied on their paperwork and applications were former Nazis. USCIS and DOJ took these cases on as they arose, but it was not coordinated.
In February 2020, the DOJ announced the creation of a section dedicated to denaturalization cases. It reads, “While the Office of Immigration Litigation already has achieved great success in the denaturalization cases it has brought, winning 95 percent of the time, the growing number of referrals anticipated from law enforcement agencies motivated the creation of a standalone section dedicated to this important work.”
According to the New York Times, “denaturalizations have ramped up under the Trump administration: Of the 228 denaturalization cases that the department has filed since 2008, about 40 percent of them were filed since 2017, according to official department numbers. And over the past three years, denaturalization case referrals to the department have increased 600 percent.”
Within the budget request for 2019, the US administration asked for $207.6 million to investigate 887 leads it expects to see turn into American citizens who could lose their citizenship. They then planned to review another 700,000 immigrant files.
The Trump administration has made the effort to better identify those immigrants who are trying to cheat the system and get their Green Card or citizenship. They will be more intensely scrutinized and ultimately will face consequences if they’re found guilty. Cissna, USCIS Director, stated that “he hope[d] the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.”
In September 2016, the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) shared data which showed that USCIS granted U.S. citizenship to at nearly 1,000 people who had been deported or removed under another identity, but didn’t have fingerprints in the system.
The Office of Inspector General | Government Oversight recommends that ICE | U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement finishes uploading into these fingerprints into the digital system. They request that the digital repository the fingerprints it identified, and that DHS (Homeland Security) resolves these cases of naturalized citizens who may have been ineligible but got citizenship anyway. The report also shows that fingerprint records are missing from hundreds of thousands of cases for many reasons.
More resources, here:
- IRAC: Denaturalization and Revocation of Naturalization – April 7, 2020
- ABA: Due Process and Denaturalization – January 14, 2019
- ILRC: Naturalization and Crimes – on September 12, 2019 This advanced webinar will address how to identify criminal convictions that are relatively harmless to a naturalization applicant, as well as ones that could cause a denial of the application, and the most dangerous, those that are deportable offenses. We will review when a denial may result in referral for removal proceedings, under the 2018 USCIS Notice to Appear Memorandum.
- ILRC: Denaturalization: Understanding the Process and Recent Increases in Denaturalization Efforts – December 21, 2018
- ACLU/ILCR: The Trump Administration’s Plan to Strip Citizenship from Thousands of Americans – September 2018
- FindLaw: Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked?
- This article covers the grounds for having one’s U.S. citizenship revoked, the basics of the denaturalization process, and defenses to denaturalization.
- National Immigration Project: Fact Sheet on Denaturalization
- Immigrant Defense Project: FAQs on Denaturalization and Convictions
- Bipartisan Policy Center: Immigrants: Can the Government Revoke Your Citizenship? – July 5, 2018
- Protect Democracy files FOIA to USCIS on denaturalization efforts
- Robertson, Cassandra Burke and Manta, Irina D., (Un)Civil Denaturalization (August 29, 2018). 94 New York University Law Review 402 (2019); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3241044
- Biapartisan Policy Center: Immigrants: Can the Government Revoke Your Citizenship? – July 5, 2018
Government Announcements and Resources
- DHS/USCIS – Privacy Impact Assessment for the ATLAS – October 30, 2020
- DOJ Announces Creation of a Section Dedicated to Denaturalization Cases – February 26, 2020
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 12 (Citizenship and Naturalization), Part L – Revocation of Naturalization – Current as of May 23, 2018
- DHS OIG Report: Individuals with Multiple Identities in Historical Fingerprint Enrollment Records Who Have Received Immigration Benefits – September 25, 2017
- United States Attorneys’ Bulletin, Vol. 65, No. 3, July 2017 – Civil Denaturalization: Safeguarding the Integrity of U.S. Citizenship
- OIG Report: Potentially Ineligible Individuals Have Been Granted U.S. Citizenship Because of Incomplete Fingerprint Records – September 8, 2016
Denaturalization Efforts by the Government
- DOJ Files Denaturalization Lawsuit Against Chicago Man Convicted of Providing Material Support to Terrorists – July 3, 2018
- ICE Announces Federal Courts Denaturalized Five Somali Nationals – April 11, 2018
- DOJ Files Complaint to Denaturalize Diversity Visa Recipient Who Obtained Naturalized Citizenship – February 15, 2018
- Justice Department Secures First Denaturalization As a Result of Operation Janus – January 9, 2018
- DOJ Seeks to Denaturalize Four Somalia-Born Individuals Admitted to the United States on Diversity Immigrant Visas – November 6, 2017
- United States Files Denaturalization Complaints Individuals Who Fraudulently Naturalized – September 19, 2017
- Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Convictions for Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization Based on False Statements (Maslenjak v. United States, 6/22/17)
- The Intercept: Little-Known Federal Software Can Trigger Revocation of Citizenship – August 25, 2021
- New York Times: Justice Dept. Establishes Office to Denaturalize Immigrants – February 26, 2020
- Quartz: The radical immigration changes under Trump that went unnoticed – December 17, 2019
- The American Prospect: The New War on Naturalized Citizens – October 15, 2019
- The New Republic: Trump’s Cynical War on American Citizenship – July 30, 2019
- The Intercept: Trump Administration Is Spending Enormous Resources to Strip Citizenship from a Florida Truck Driver – April 4, 2019
- The Nation: Trump Wants to Take Away Your Citizenship – March 21, 2019
- The Intercept: The Justice Department Singled Out This Man in Expanding Efforts to Strip Citizenship. A Judge Doesn’t Think the Case is Open and Shut. – February 23, 2019
- The Nation: How Trump Is Stripping Immigrants of Their Citizenship – December 21, 2018
- The New York Times Magazine: Is Denaturalization the Next Front in the Trump Administration’s War on Immigration? – December 19, 2018
- American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact: This Citizenship Day Marred by Government’s Focus on Stripping People of Their Citizenship – September 17, 2018
- Rewire.news: Why We’re Fighting Donald Trump’s Denaturalization Task Force– August 24, 2018
- Los Angeles Times: Under Trump, the rare act of denaturalizing U.S. citizens on the rise – August 12, 2018
- Smithsonian.com: Stripping Naturalized Immigrants of Their Citizenship Isn’t New – July 24, 2018
- The New York Times: Congratulations, You Are Now a U.S. Citizen. Unless Someone Decides Later You’re Not. – July 23, 2018
- Vox: Denaturalization, explained: how Trump can strip immigrants of their citizenship – July 18, 2018
- Kera News: The US is using an expanded fingerprint database to review the citizenship of thousands of Americans – July 10, 2018
- The Nation: Why Trump’s Denaturalization Task Force Matters – July 10, 2018
- The New Yorker: In America, Naturalized Citizens No Longer Have an Assumption of Permanence – June 18, 2018
- CNN: Trump admin creates new office to investigate citizenship fraud – June 13, 2018
- APNewsBreak: US launches bid to find citizenship cheaters – June 12, 2018
- Slate: Trump Administration Launches Effort to Strip Citizenship From Those Suspected of Naturalization Irregularities – June 11, 2018
- American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact: Supreme Court Limits Power to Revoke Naturalized Person’s Citizenship– July 13, 2017