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If you're a citizen of the United States, it's important to know what will happen if you commit certain crimes. You could lose your citizenship or be deported.
June 14, 2022
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:

Practice Advisories

Additional Resources

Government Announcements and Resources

Denaturalization Efforts by the Government

Media Coverage


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