False Claims to U.S. Citizenship

passport citizenship

False claims to U.S. citizenship can occur in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s the result of an honest mistake. A false claim to U.S. citizenship has severe consequences. According to the law, “Any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented himself or herself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act or any other Federal or State law is inadmissible.” If a person is found to be inadmissible under this law, they are barred from obtaining permanent residency. This is true even if they are married to a U.S. citizen. There is no waiver available to waive a false claim to U.S. citizenship status. Before 1996, false claims to U.S. citizenship could be waived. Presently, for any claims made after September 26, 1996, no waiver exists.

In addition to being ineligible for permanent residency due to the false claim, you can also incur criminal liability for a false claim. In the context of naturalization, if it is determined that a false claim was made, then an applicant may be denied naturalization for lack of “good moral character.” Although there is no waiver, there may be some applicable exceptions and/or defenses after making a false claim of being a U.S. citizen. If the claim happened prior to 1996, you may be able to obtain a waiver. Further, if you are the child of a U.S. citizen parent and resided in the United States before the age of 16, and you believed that you were a U.S. citizen, you may have a defense to the alleged false claim. It may also be possible to argue that you made a “timely retraction of false claim” or that you were too young to understand the consequences of the false claim at the time it was made. Agency interpretation on underage false claims is still unsettled. It may be possible to argue that the claim was not made in order to receive a benefit prohibited by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Finally, the U visa for victims of crime may also provide for an exception through one of its waiver provisions.

If you have questions about false claims to U.S. citizenship, or about the immigration process in general, please contact The Gillispie Law Firm.