Loss of American Citizenship

U.S. citizens are subject to loss of citizenship by performing any of the following acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish American citizenship:

  • obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years;
  • taking an oath or making an affirmation or another formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years;
  • entering and/or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state if (a) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the U.S., or (b) such persons serve as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer;
  • Accepting employment with a foreign government if (a) one has the nationality of that foreign state or (b) a declaration of allegiance is required in accepting the position;
  • Formally renouncing U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consular officer outside the United States;
  • Formally renouncing U.S. citizenship within the U.S. (but only “in time of war”);
  • Conviction for an act of treason.

Treason is a serious crime, and the Constitution defines the requirements for convicting someone of treason. Treason is waging a violent war against the United States in cooperation with a foreign country or any organized group. It includes assisting or aiding any foreign country or organization in taking over or destroying this country including abolishing the Constitution. Treason also consists of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the US government or of betraying our government into the hands of a foreign power. If you are caught and convicted of treason, you can pretty much count on losing your US citizenship as well as serving lots of jail time.

Another way by which an individual can lose the U.S. citizenship, is by lying to the USCIS during the Naturalization process. If you deliberately withheld information from or misrepresented information given to the USCIS or INS when filing your N-400, the USCIS may cancel your Certificate of Naturalization and revoke your US citizenship. This includes withholding information and misrepresenting yourself during your naturalization interview or oath ceremony. If your Certificate of Naturalization is cancelled and your US citizenship revoked, you may also find yourself facing criminal prosecution as well as deportation proceedings.
For instance, if you lived outside the country for four months and deliberately omitted this absence from your N-400 and the USCIS finds out about it after you’re naturalized, they could move to have your Certificate of Naturalization cancelled.

All they would need to show is that your absence would have disqualified you from or materially affected your naturalization due to the “physical presence in the United States” requirement for naturalization applicants.
You may also lose your US citizenship if you withheld information or misled the USCIS or INS when becoming a permanent resident. If within five years of becoming a permanent resident, the USCIS finds out that you withheld information from them or misled them in order to obtain your green card, the USCIS may also strip you of your US citizenship.

Of course, it is not as easy to take away your citizenship and Certificate of Naturalization as the law reads. Even if you were not entirely truthful or forthcoming during the naturalization process, the USCIS just cannot arbitrarily revoke your citizenship.