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Can I lose citizenship only because of a previous lie on a naturalization application?

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Although lying on a naturalization application is certainly one way to lose U.S. Citizenship, it is not the only way. Revocation of naturalization is sometimes referred to as “denaturalization.” Unlike most other immigration proceedings that USCIS handles in an administrative setting, revocation of naturalization can only occur in federal court. First note that there is no real time limitation for the government to commence the process of taking away U.S. Citizenship known as Denaturalization. There are four ways a naturalized citizenship of the United States can have his citizenship taken away.

A) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if he or she procured naturalization illegally

Procuring naturalization illegally simply means that the person was not eligible for naturalization in the first place which does not necessarily mean that the noncitizen applicant lied or misrepresented in his naturalization application.

Accordingly, any eligibility requirement for naturalization that was not met can form the basis for an action to revoke the naturalization of a person. This includes the requirements of residence, physical presence, lawful admission for permanent residence, good moral character, and attachment to the U.S. Constitution again, regardless of whether there was a fact misrepresented. We discussed the eligibility requirements for U.S. Citizenship here.

B) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if there is deliberate deceit on the part of the person in misrepresenting or failing to disclose a material fact or facts on his or her naturalization application and subsequent examination

Here is where a potential misrepresentation may apply.

In general, a person is subject to revocation of naturalization on this basis if:

  • The naturalized U.S. citizen misrepresented or concealed some fact.
  • The misrepresentation or concealment was willful.
  • The misrepresented or concealed fact or facts were material and,
  • The naturalized U.S. citizen procured citizenship as a result of the misrepresentation or concealment.

This ground of revocation includes omissions as well as affirmative misrepresentations. The misrepresentations can be oral testimony provided during the naturalization interview or can include information contained on the application submitted by the applicant.

The test for materiality is whether the misrepresentations or concealment had a tendency to affect the decision. It is not necessary that the information, if disclosed, would have precluded naturalization.

C) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if the person becomes a member of, or becomes affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years of his or her naturalization

A person who is involved with such organizations cannot establish the naturalization requirements of having an attachment to the Constitution and of being well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.

As a result, there is a rebuttable presumption that someone that becomes involved with such an organization within five years after the date of naturalization cannot meet the requirements of being attached to the principals of the Constitution and as a result, is prima facie evidence that he or she concealed or willfully misrepresented material evidence that would have prevented the person’s naturalization.

D) Other than Honorable Discharge before Five Years of Honorable Service after Naturalization, a person is subject to revocation of naturalization if:

  • The person became a U.S. citizen through naturalization on the basis of honorable service in the U.S. armed forces.
  • The person subsequently separates from the U.S. armed forces under other than honorable conditions, and
  • The other than honorable discharge occurs before the person has served honorably for a period or periods aggregating at least five years.

We discussed U.S. Citizenship through Military Service here.

We also discussed U.S. Citizenship through Military Service during Wartime here.

Wil I be subject to being deported from the United States if I lose Citizenship?

Discovery that a person failed to comply with any of the requirements for naturalization at the time the person became a U.S. citizen renders his or her naturalization illegally procured. This applies even if the person is innocent of any willful deception or misrepresentation.

Therefore, it’s likely that a person who obtains citizenship based on legal permanent resident status, will revert back to this status. However, if the basis for citizenship also places into question eligibility for legal permanent resident status, the legal permanent resident could be subject to rescission of the green card or potential removal proceedings.

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