Can Immigrants Lose US Citizenship?

Generally speaking, when an immigrant obtains citizenship in the US, this will mean that they have US citizenship for the rest of their life. However, there are certain situations where this will not be the case and citizenship can be lost.

Denaturalization

In recent years, there has been a greater focus on denaturalization and a specific task force was set up by the government to tackle citizens who are deemed to meet the criteria to enforce denaturalization. This has targeted foreign nationals who have committed immigration fraud by not admitting to serious criminal records when they applied for citizenship, or who committed another type of fraud regarding their application.

A person can also face denaturalization if they become a member of the Communist party or are affiliated with it, or any other totalitarian party or terrorist organization within five years of their naturalization.

If citizenship is taken away from a person due to the circumstances detailed above, this does not always mean that they will be required to leave the US. What often happens is that the person’s legal status will revert back to the status they had before they were granted citizenship. However, the situation could be reviewed and there is deemed to be a reason for removal.

Where someone who obtained citizenship and then petitioned to have family members join them in the US but then were denaturalized, the family members would be deported.

Other ways that US citizenship can be lost include if you were to enter military service in a foreign country, or commit treason against the US. People applying for citizenship in another country can also lose their citizenship.

What is the denaturalization process?

Since 2017, the DHS has been investigating cases for immigration fraud. When they identify a case that is determined to have been a case of immigration fraud, the DHS refers these cases onto the Department of Justice. The DOJ then proceeds with the prosecution and denaturalization of the immigrants. The federal court reviews the case and citizenship revoked if it is agreed that immigration fraud has occurred.

If an immigrant commits a crime in US, can they lose citizenship?

Naturalized citizens are treated in the same way as other citizens, so if they commit a crime whilst in the US, they would not lose citizenship. Permanent citizens and green card holders can be deported if they commit certain crimes whilst on those legal statuses, but naturalized citizens are not subject to the same process. It only applies to naturalized citizens if the crime they committed was in regard to falsifying information in their application, or as mentioned above, they committed treason against the US or were involved in terrorism, or affiliated to Communist or other totalitarian party.

In February 2020, an immigration office was formally set up to further focus on "the department's commitment to bring justice to terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders and other fraudsters who illegally obtained naturalization" and there have been increased numbers of lawsuits following on from this.









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