Check the Wrong Box, Ruin Your Chances for a Green Card

Aug 26, 2015 | Removal Proceedings

The path to becoming a legal permanent resident (i.e. green card holder) is sometimes fraught with challenges. As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have had clients who erroneously checked off “citizen” or “national” on their Form I-9, thereby ruining their chances for a green card. Why does this happen? Below are some frequently asked questions.

What is Form I-9?
Form I-9 is usually used by U.S. employers to confirm their employees’ eligibility, based on immigration status, to work in the U.S. If you have ever had a salaried job, chances are that you had to fill out Form I-9.

What happens if I check the wrong box on Form I-9?
If you make a false claim that you are a citizen of the United States when you are not (i.e. if you falsely check a box saying that you are a U.S. citizen), this can ruin your chances of getting a green card. You may even have to face removal proceedings. If you have any questions about filling out Form I-9, do not guess. You should consult with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What kinds of choices does Form I-9 offer?
You only have 4 choices on Form I-9 as far as immigration status goes. They are:

  • Citizen of the United States
  • Noncitizen national of the United States
  • Lawful Permanent Resident
  • Alien Authorized to Work

You must pick one of the above. Again, if you have any questions, you should immediately speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What are the immigration consequences of lying about my citizenship?
To put it simply, if you want to eventual get a green card in the U.S., you cannot be considered by the immigration authorities as “inadmissible.”

There are several grounds for deeming someone inadmissible to the United States. If you “represent” or “have represented” that you are a U.S. citizen for “any purpose or benefit” under any state or federal law, you will be deemed inadmissible to the United States. This includes: lying about being a U.S. citizen to work, vote, or receive public benefits. If you do any of the above, you will have ruined your chances of getting a green card. Again, if you have any questions pertaining false claims to citizenship, you should speak with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options.

I was found to have made a false claim to citizenship. What are my options?
You may still have options if you were found to have made a false claim to citizenship, especially if any of these three situations apply to you:

  1. Your made the false claim before the laws changed. If you made the false claim to U.S. citizenship before this new ground for inadmissibility was enacted in September 30th, 1996, you may have recourse.
  2. You had good reason to believe that you were a U.S. citizen. If you were a minor when you made the false claim, if you were living in the U.S. permanently (with a green card) before you turned 16,  and if each of your parents was a citizen, you may also have recourse.
  3. You realized that you made a mistake, and you tried to correct it.  If you tried to correct the error of your  false claim in a timely fashion, you may have recourse.

If the immigration authorities have found you to be inadmissible, I would highly recommend that you speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

What is important for me to remember?
As discussed in this article, one false move could land you in dire consequences. As such, you should always be very careful when filling out any official U.S. government forms or immigration paperwork. If you have any questions at all, you should first consult with a Miami immigration attorney to avoid ruining your chances for a green card.

If you would like more information on false claims to citizenship, please contact Miami immigration lawyer The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at tmsilvalaw.com.