Obtaining U.S. citizenship as the final step in the immigration process. However, in some cases, even a naturalized U.S. citizen might have her citizenship revoked.
USCIS agents work vigorously to identify “illegal” naturalization. Those who gained their citizenship illegally can be investigated and stripped of their citizenship. This process is called denaturalization.
In the past, the denaturalization process was extremely rare, focused mainly on serious cases, such as former war criminals. However, the government didn’t systematically search for those cases. Currently, the administration is planning to investigate more cases and actively seek those who have not gained their citizenship through proper means.
The Administration asked for $207.6 million from the 2019 budget to investigate 887 additional leads of suspected “cheaters”. It expects to investigate American citizens who may be subject to denaturalization, and to review another 700,000 immigrant files. USIS opened a new office in Los Angeles and hired dozens of immigration lawyers to pursue the investigations.
Who can be denaturalized?
The Denaturalization process can occur only by court order in civil or criminal proceedings. There are four main grounds for denaturalization:
- Procuring Naturalization Illegally – this means that you weren´t eligible for naturalization in the first place (e.g. didn’t meet any of the eligibility criteria, including good moral character, lawful admission for permanent residence, requirements physical presence, etc.)
- Concealing of Material Facts or Willful Misrepresentation – you might lose your citizenshipif you willfully misrepresented or concealed some fact in your application or during the oral interview. The misrepresentation must be material.
- Becoming a member of, or affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years after his or her naturalization.
- Other than Honorable Discharge before Five Years of Honorable Service after Naturalization – this only applies to naturalized military service members.
Another possibility that is not on the agenda is moving out of the U.S. shortly upon obtaining U.S. naturalization. The applicant must intend to reside in the U.S. after naturalization is complete. Someone who plans to relocate outside the U.S. immediately after obtaining U.S. citizenship and cut ties to U.S. residence can come under scrutiny.
After denaturalization, the person reverts back to their previous immigration status, and may even be subject to deportation.