Written by attorney Elizabeth Rose Blandon

False Claim to U.S. Citizenship

A false claim to U.S. citizenship creates a permanent bar against immigration benefits. In fact, it is worse than getting an order of deportation, which only imposes a ten-year bar.

Foreign nationals who have not naturalized need to be extremely careful to understand what their immigration status is so they can accurately communicate it to others.

In order to become naturalized, foreign nationals must obtain legal permanent residency for a statutory period (usually five years) and meet the other requirements such as good moral character. Once approved, the foreign national can take the oath to become a citizen. Foreign nationals who have not undergone this process may not be citizens, even if they are the children of U.S. citizens.

The Dept. of Homeland Security investigates whether foreign nationals have registered to vote or applied for a driver’s license, two common scenarios for making a false claim to citizenship.

In addition to making mistakes on applications, foreign nationals sometimes intentionally make a false claim to citizenship because they believe it is an easy way to fix problems associated with illegal status. It can happen during a traffic stop when foreign nationals tell a police officer they are from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. This is an extremely risky gamble. On the one hand, the officer may believe the foreign national and let them proceed about their day. On the other hand, the officer may check. If they find out the truth, then the police report will indicate that the foreign nationals made a false claim to citizenship.

Regardless of the situation, a foreign national who has been accused of falsely claiming United States citizenship should retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney. Because there are exceptions that may help the foreign national avoid removal, the attorney may be able to fight these charges in Immigration Court.

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