US Immigration News

What Is Denaturalization and How Can It Affect You?

3 minute read
"There are 2 ways to obtain US citizenship: by birth or by naturalization. For an immigrant, naturalization is the only way to obtain US citizenship. Similarly, denaturalization is the process by which the US government can revoke or cancel naturalized citizenship."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Sep 2, 2021
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There are 2 ways to obtain US citizenship: by birth or by naturalization. For an immigrant, naturalization is the only way to obtain US citizenship. Similarly, denaturalization is the process by which the US government can revoke or cancel naturalized citizenship. 

What Are the Common Reasons for Denaturalization?

Naturalization Obtained Through Misrepresentation 

If the government finds out that you willfully deceived the application process or the interview, then your citizenship will be revoked. The following conditions apply:

  • The applicant willfully misrepresented or concealed facts
  • The misrepresentation was done on purpose 
  • The facts misrepresented directly affected the citizenship decision
  • The applicant received the citizenship due to misrepresentation of facts

Another way a naturalized citizen can lose citizenship through misrepresentation is if they join a communist organization or a totalitarian or terrorist group within 5 years of becoming a citizen. It is considered misrepresentation as the citizen lied about complying with the US constitution. 

Denaturalization Due to Fraud

If you tried to obtain citizenship unlawfully for yourself or another person, then you could be criminally convicted for fraud. If you are convicted of naturalization fraud, then your citizenship will be revoked without any due process. 

Obtained Citizenship through Illegal Means 

If you obtained US citizenship by not following the proper legal measures, then your citizenship will be revoked. It does not matter if it was due to any genuine mistake or willful deception. Immigrants are required to meet the following criteria for the naturalization process:

  • Have legal permanent residence status
  • Have a good moral character
  • Have continuous physical residency in the US
  • Compliance with the principles of the US constitution

If the applicant misrepresents any of the above-mentioned conditions, then your citizenship will be revoked. 

Military Service Denaturalization

If you obtained US citizenship through service in the US military, then you could lose your citizenship if you were anything less than honorably discharged from your service of 5 years.

How Will Denaturalization Affect Your Family?

If your spouse and/or children obtained their legal status based on your citizenship, then their status will no longer be valid. If they have already received citizenship, then there is a risk that citizenship may get revoked as well. However, that will only happen if the cause of denaturalization was through misrepresentation.

What Is the Process of Denaturalization?

The government has to meet the burden of proof since revoking citizenship is quite a big deal. There must be clear, unequivocal evidence supporting the government’s claim. If there is any discrepancy or lack of evidence, then the court will rule in the favour of the evidence. Recently, the current administration created a separate Denaturalization Section in the Department of Justice. There must be judicial action in the cases of denaturalization as it requires the intervention of the courts.

The government is supposed to fight a federal lawsuit against you in the nearest federal district court to your place of residence. The court will inform you about the case against you along with a copy of the lawsuit detailing the reasons why the case is filed against you.

It is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer as soon as you receive such a notice.

The deadline for a response is within 60 days. If you miss the deadline, then the court will hear the government’s side of the case and proceed with denaturalization.

You can challenge the government’s decision by raising your defense. You will be required to present evidence supporting your statement. After you file the response, the court will schedule a hearing for further review. 

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