When an immigrant becomes a United States citizen, the process is referred to as “naturalization.” Conversely, when a United States citizen loses his or her citizenship, the process is referred to as “denaturalization.” One might assume that once you become a citizen, you’re always a citizen.
However, this is not the case. Although denaturalization is rare, there are specific legal circumstances under which someone could lose his or her status as a permanent member of our nation.
The grounds for denaturalization
There are several circumstances in which someone could lose citizenship status. These include:
Concealment, falsification or misrepresentation: Those applying for U.S. citizenship must tell the truth and be completely transparent at all times during interviews. For example, if you misrepresent your true identity or hide criminal history information while applying for citizenship, even if you become a naturalized citizen, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service could later pursue a denaturalization action to revoke your status.
Refusing to testify in front of Congress: You must testify before Congress if requested to give information about your possible participation in subversive acts against United States officials and the government. Failure to testify can result in the revocation of your citizenship if you were nationalized within the last 10 years.
Being in a subversive group: If you were nationalized within the last five years, your participation in a subversive group like Al Qaeda or a Nazi political party could mean that you lose your citizenship.
A dishonorable discharge from the military: Some individuals receive naturalization as a result of their military service. If such an individual faces a dishonorable discharge, he or she could also lose the U.S. citizenship status acquired by virtue of his or her service.
Are you at risk of denaturalization?
Just because you became a naturalized U.S. citizen doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear in terms of the safety of your status. If you’re at risk of denaturalization of citizenship via any of the above circumstances, contact an immigration attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.