Denaturalization is a process through which a nationalized US citizen is stripped of their US citizenship by the US Government, for example, due to a fraudulent misrepresentation made earlier in the US immigration process.

Denaturalization has increased significantly under the Trump Administration. From 1990 to 2017, an average of 11 denaturalization cases were filed every year. In 2017, that figure over doubled, to approximately 25. It is anticipated that the number of denaturalization cases will increase further when a new United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office in Los Angeles opens next year, with the sole objective of investigating suspected US citizenship fraud. The office will use historic fingerprint records scanned into the US Government database to review the naturalizations of people who successfully obtained US citizenship, notwithstanding undisclosed prior convictions or deportation orders.

A New Era in US Immigration?

The increase in denaturalization cases comes amidst the Trump’s administration’s increasingly vociferous commitment to US immigration enforcement. In addition to the opening of the dedicated USCIS office in Los Angeles next year, there are plans to increase the number of cases referred for deportation by the USCIS and plans to give USCIS adjudicatory officers greater discretion to deny immigration applications they consider to be incomplete or ineligible. Further, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have requested an additional $207 million for the purpose of hiring an additional 300 agents to investigate immigration fraud.

A Cause for Concern?

The US is currently home to approximately 21.2 million naturalized citizens. On average, 700,000 to 750,000 people are naturalized in the US every year.

While the US Government is quite rightly keen to ensure individuals do not obtain US citizenship by fraud, it is important to note that any material non-disclosure in an Immigrant Visa or Adjustment of Status application may give rise to a fraud investigation, even if the failure to disclose was due to a genuine misunderstanding or an honest mistake on the part of the applicant. If a fraud investigation is decided against an individual, it may render the individual vulnerable to deportation, regardless of how long they have been a US citizen and how many years they have spent in the US.

Indeed, there is no Statute of Limitations governing US denaturalization cases. As a result, a US citizen may be stripped of their US citizenship and deported back to their country of origin several decades after their arrival in the US.

In light of the above, it is absolutely imperative to ensure all US immigration applications are well-judged, well-drafted and correctly filed. If you are contemplating an application for an Immigrant Visa or Adjustment of Status, we would recommend that you contact us in order to seek advice from a licensed US immigration attorney before taking any action.

Davies Legal Immigration

At Davies Legal Immigration, we provide advice and representation in connection with all immigrant and non-immigrant visa categories, including cases in which a waiver of inadmissibility is sought and cases in which there have been previous visa denials. We pride ourselves on providing the highest standards of client care and undertake to keep you informed. Call now for a complimentary telephone call with a licensed US immigration attorney and free, no obligation price quotation.

Published: 18th September 2018