A false claim to US citizenship can have a major impact on an individual’s immigration case.
At times, children enter the US at a very young age. And their family members tell them that they are US citizens. Children might also feel like they are US citizens. Because their parents naturalized when they were very young. Such unsuspecting people can do something as simple as register to vote just to find out they are not citizens. If you are not a US citizen and claim to be (honestly or not), they can deport you and render you inadmissible.
The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) states that a candidate is not admissible for citizenship and is qualified for deportation if they make false claims of citizenship for any purpose, such as availing federal or state law benefits.
Therefore, under this law, they can consider an applicant deportable. Especially, if they make a representation of citizenship. Whether by a non-citizen and the representation was false.
Prior to 2020, American citizenship applicants who had made false claims to US citizenship were not always deported. Or made eligible for US citizenship due to that false claim. These applicants could defend themselves. But, they need to prove they had made the false claim unknowingly and that they genuinely thought they were US citizens.
From 24th April 2020 onwards, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated this policy, stating that unintentional false claims to US citizenship could result in denial of the application of naturalization. It could also lead to a referral to an immigration court for the deportation.
How Can One Falsely Claim US Citizenship?
You don’t need to make the claim to an immigration officer. Nor do you need to make the claim under oath. In fact, you can make the claim to any individual, entity, or government official. You can make it in a number of settings. Such as when registering to vote or when filling out a 1-9 employment form. As well as, during written applications, or oral interviews.
When Can A False Claim To US Citizenship Lead To Deportation?
When a person makes false claims to US citizenship to avail state and federal law benefits. It can prevent the person making such a claim from ever becoming a US citizen or from living in the US.
Another occasion when non-citizens can make a false claim is on job applications. Or when filling out I-9 forms (forms for verification of employment eligibility). Even if the applicant has the legal ability to work in the US, such as holding a green card. Lying and claiming that the applicant is a citizen can lead to deportation.
If a non-citizen submits a voter registration form, they can face consequences. As they are falsely implying citizenship. Additionally, lying about citizenship status on a passport or federal student loan application is a major circumstance. As well as, applications for benefits that are not meant for US citizens.
Exceptions That Can Prevent Deportation
There are a few conditions when they allow exceptions that will prevent deportation. Especially, if a person has been dishonest about their citizenship status.
Many people think if they marry a US citizen, they can undo the harm done by claiming false citizenship. This is untrue; the law does not waive a false claim due to marriage by an immigration court.
Some exceptions that do not make applicants inadmissible include:
- If a person made any false claim before 30th September 1996, the claim cannot lead to inadmissibility in the United States. But the law can still make the individual inadmissible under willful misrepresentation or fraud.
- If a child makes a false claim of US citizenship before the age of 18 and whose parents are legal US citizens. The child also has to be a permanent resident before the age of 16. Also, when the child makes a claim, he/she must reasonably believe he or she was a citizen.
- If the false claim was “timely retracted” or immediately removed voluntarily by the applicant and the non-citizen did not avail any benefits from it. This timely retraction acts as a defense, and the inadmissible rule does not apply. What exactly is considered a timely retraction? This is when the individual making the false claim corrects it before an immigration or government official questions the statement and concludes the meeting.
Can inadmissibility be waived?
Inadmissibility waivers do exist for non-citizens who are seeking re-admission to the United States after a false claim to citizenship. Also, refugees and people who are seeking adjustment of status due to their asylee or refugee status can qualify for a waiver.