Revocation of American Citizenship

It doesn’t happens often, but it is possible for a naturalized U.S. citizen to have his or her American citizenship cancelled or revoked. This process is known as “denaturalization”.

Former citizens who are denaturalized are subject to removal (deportation) from the United States. It is different for natural-born U.S. citizens who may not have their citizenship revoked against their will, but may choose to renounce their citizenship on their own.

Most revocation of citizenship cases in the United States are based on three grounds:

Falsification or Concealment of Important Facts: If an immigrant hides important information or lied about important matters at his or her naturalization interview, citizenship may be revoked. For this reason, you must be absolutely truthful when filling out paperwork and answering interview questions related to the naturalization application process. Even if the USCIS does not recognize at first that you are lying about something, the agency may file a denaturalization action against you after citizenship has been granted.

For example, criminals and racketeers have lost their citizenship status because they lied about their criminal activities. If they had disclosed their criminal histories, as required, they would not have qualified for citizenship in the first place. Thus, in this situation, citizenship can be revoked through the denaturalization process.

If a person lies about their real name or identity, or hides a name or identity they have used in the past, this could lead to denaturalization. In addition, if an immigrant does not tell the truth about how long he or she has lived in the United States, this could cause the government to revoke their citizenship.

Membership in Subversive Organization: If the U.S. Government can prove that you joined a subversive organization within five years of becoming a naturalized citizen, they may revoke your citizenship. The U.S. government invokes denaturalization against immigrants due to their affiliations with Nazi, communist, terrorist, or other similar groups. Membership in such organization is deemed a violation of the oath of allegiance to the United States.

Dishonorable Military Discharge: Some immigrants obtain naturalized citizenship through service in the U.S. armed forces. If this is your case, your citizenship may be revoked if you are dishonorably discharged before serving five years. Reasons for dishonorable discharge, followed by a general court-martial, include desertion and sexual assault.

Naturalized citizens found to be in violation of the terms of citizenship must leave the country. Children granted citizenship based on their parent’s status may also lose their citizenship after that parent has been denaturalized.

As with any other civil case, the denaturalization process begins with a formal complaint against the defendant, who may respond to the complaint and defend himself or herself at trial, or hire an immigration attorney. The defendant has 60 days to file an answer to the complaint, where he or she may claim the action is based on wrong information or that, for instance, the statute of limitations has expired.

If your U.S. citizenship is revoked, you may be deported soon after the verdict is issued.