Revocation of Naturalization


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Denaturalization first became a legal possibility in the United States with the passage of the 1906 Nationalization Act. This law gave US attorneys the authority to initiate proceedings “for the purpose of setting aside and canceling the certificate of citizenship on the ground of fraud or on the ground that such certificate of citizenship was illegally procured.”

In June of 2018, the Trump administration set up a denaturalization task force with the goal of deporting some 2,000 naturalized citizens who were suspected of “cheating” on their citizenship applications by omitting or failing to mention any aliases or iterations of their names that may have been used before. The administration announced it would be analyzing decades-old fingerprints in order to target individuals subject to denaturalization.

Revocation of naturalization can only occur to someone to whom USCIS has affirmatively granted naturalization. This means that the client must have filed an application for naturalization (Form N-400), appeared at the naturalization interview, had their application approved, and took the oath of allegiance for naturalization.

Three major grounds for denaturalization include:

There has been an illegal procurement of naturalization
There was a concealment of a material fact or willful misrepresentation
It occurs pursuant to a criminal conviction; or
There is an early dishonorable discharge under military provisions.

If denaturalization should occur, a client is owed a proper judicial proceeding in federal court. he burden of proof for the government is high. For civil revocation of naturalization, the burden is “clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence which does not leave the issue in doubt.” For criminal revocation of naturalization, the burden “is the same as for every other criminal case, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” To remedy these charges, a client must seek the help of an immigration attorney immediately to represent them in court. Ideally the immigration attorney is able to build a strong case showing that there was no intent to conceal a material fact or to willfully misrepresent a fact, or that the client did not illegally procure naturalization. Although the burden of proof is high for the government, it is equally important for immigration attorneys to understand the weight of compelling evidence needed in court to save their client from a revocation of naturalization, i.e. loss of citizenship.

Based on the above, individuals applying for any immigration benefit should hire an immigration lawyer to ensure that information improperly submitted to immigration does not pose a risk of denaturalization in the future.


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