Losing US Citizenship - Denaturalization
This guide will discuss the reasons for denaturalization
What is DenaturalizationDenaturalization is when a person loses U.S. citizenshiip. The person must have naturalized in the U.S. meaning that at some point they applied for U.S. citizenship and the application was granted. Only a federal judge can denaturalize a person.
How does the denaturalization process start?The U.S. Attorney for the federal district in which the person resides, and also usually an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, start a court case by filing a complaint with the federal court in a person's district. The complaint will state what the reasons are that the government thinks a person should lose U.S. citizenship and will request that the federal judge denaturalize the person. The person then must file an answer to the complaint within the time specified. Failing to file an answer means the government can get a default judgment and the person will be denaturalized.
What are the reasons for U.S. citizenship to be taken away by denaturalization?A few reasons you can be denaturalized:
1. You were not eligible to become a U.S. citizen when you applied because you obtained permanent residency illegally therefore you were not a permanent resident which is necessary requirement for becoming a U.S. citizen;
2. You were not eligible to become a U.S. citizen because you engaged in acts which would disqualify you from becoming a U.S. citizen. These could be because you were convicted of murder or an aggravated felony . You could also be ineligible for U.S. citizenship if you lack good moral character. You could be found to lack good moral character if for example, you fail to pay child support.
3. You willfully misrepresented a material fact. Willfully means you deliberately lied or omitted a material fact. Materail means that if the USCIS officer conducting the naturalization interview would have known the truth, he/she would have changed their mind about granting you citizenship.
Do you need a lawyer if the government tries to take away your U.S. citizenship?Yes. Denaturalization is a complex procedure involving civil litigation in the federal courts. The risk of losing citizenship not only affects the person losing the citizenship but also any family members he/she petitioned for whether for permanent residency or derivative citizenship.