Can you ever lose your U.S. citizenship?

There are many immigrants who come to the United States with the intention to stay permanently and to live a comfortable life in this country. Some will seek permanent residency status. Others will go on to seek citizenship.

Although citizenship is permanent for people who are born in America, the truth is that immigrants can have their naturalization reversed. A denaturalization can happen in a few cases.

What are the grounds for denaturalization?

The grounds for denaturalization include:

  • Concealing or falsifying information when seeking naturalization. For example, failing to disclose a criminal background on the application for naturalization may result in denaturalization later on.
  • Being dishonorably discharged from the military. Some common causes of dishonorable discharges include sexual assault or desertion.
  • Being involved in subversive groups. For instance, joining the Nazi Party within five years of getting your citizenship may lead to denaturalization.
  • Refusing to testify in front of congress when requested. If you are asked to testify in relationship to alleged involvement in subversive acts, like terrorism against the United States, then you could lose your citizenship. You are only required to testify within the first 10 years of your citizenship, and then that requirement expires.

Seeing the information above, it is clear that you would have to commit serious crimes for your citizenship to be put at risk. That being said, if you have lied on your naturalization documents or you face a dishonorable discharge from military service, it’s important to talk to your attorney about how you can protect yourself. Showing that information was accidentally left off an application or disproving the reason for a dishonorable discharge could help save your citizenship and keep you in the United States.

Immigration policies are tough, because they are intended to prevent people who could harm the country from coming here. Most people have good intentions, and it is valuable to have immigrants who are here to support the United States. If you believe that your citizenship is at risk, it’s smart to discuss your case with your attorney as soon as you know there is trouble.

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