Many people assume that once they become naturalized U.S. citizens, they no longer have to be concerned about being removed from the country. However, there are some situations in which a person’s naturalized citizenship can be revoked.
Many, but not all, involve some type of deliberate deceit. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand what they are.
Grounds for “denaturalization”
Revocation of naturalization, or “denaturalization” is handled by a federal court. The government has a high burden of proof for seeking denaturalization. Let’s look at the most common grounds for denaturalization:
- Illegally procuring naturalization: Basically, this applies when a person didn’t actually meet the requirements for naturalization. They can be denaturalized even if they didn’t intend to mislead the government.
- Willful misrepresentation or concealment of material fact: This is when a person lied about something or intentionally failed to disclose information that would have prevented them from obtaining citizenship.
- Affiliation or membership in a terrorist group or totalitarian party: This falls under the “concealment of material fact,” whether it’s discovered that a person was involved with one of these groups when they were naturalized or became involved within five years of their naturalization. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers involvement within a few years after naturalization “prima facie evidence that he or she concealed or willfully misrepresented material evidence that would have prevented the person’s naturalization.”
- “Other than honorable discharge” from the U.S. military: This applies to people who gained naturalization through honorable military service but were then discharged for “other than honorable” reasons within five years of that naturalization.
The revocation of naturalization can not only upend your life, but also that of your spouse, children and other family members who have relied on your citizenship for their own immigration status, including being granted citizenship in some cases. Therefore, if you’re facing denaturalization, it’s imperative that you seek the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney.