When can the government revoke your naturalized citizenship?

Citizenship in the U.S. is priceless. People all around the world overcome enormous obstacles to obtain it. Once granted, citizenship is permanent and cannot be revoked for subsequent misdeeds.

Naturalized citizens cannot lose their citizenship except in rare cases and quite limited circumstances:

  • If your citizenship was derived through military service, it can be revoked upon a dishonorable discharge after a general court-martial.
  • Your citizenship could be revoked if, within 5 years of naturalization, the U.S. government proved you joined a subversive group. Such groups include Al Qaeda and the Nazi Party, for example.
  • Your citizenship could be revoked if, within 10 years of naturalization, you refused to testify before a U.S. congressional committee investigating your involvement in an allegedly subversive act. Subversive acts include trying to harm U.S. officials or overthrow the government.
  • If you lied or concealed relevant facts in order to obtain U.S. citizenship, your citizenship could be revoked. This is called illegally procuring citizenship.

Right now, the U.S. Department of Justice is actively investigating illegal procurement of citizenship. The Department of Homeland Security has discovered around 315,000 naturalized citizens whose fingerprint repository files are missing some data.

While that doesn’t necessarily indicate any wrongdoing, the agencies are suspicious. They believe some of the citizens may have circumvented criminal record and background checks by intentionally failing to submit fingerprints. To find out, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of DHS) and the Justice Department are collaborating on a project called Operation Janus.

USCIS has identified 1,600 people it believes procured citizenship illegally

The Justice Department announced recently that a federal judge has revoked the citizenship of an Indian man. He had made competing applications to remain in the U.S. lawfully, and even received an exclusion and deportation order, before he married a U.S. citizen. His certificate of naturalization has been canceled, which reverted his immigration status to that of a lawful permanent resident. He is now subject to deportation.

It is not entirely clear whether he was discovered because his fingerprints were missing from his file. However, his is the first of three Operation Janus cases referred for prosecution by the USCIS.

The USCIS has identified 1,600 people through Operation Janus whom it plans to refer for prosecution.

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen and are suspected of procuring your citizenship illegally or fraudulently, do not wait. Immediately contact a licensed immigration attorney to defend your rights.