Beware of the False Claim to U.S. Citizenship Trap
Published May 10, 2008

Whether you are in the United States with no status (undocumented or visa overstay), temporary status or even permanent resident status it is important to take note of the “false claim to U.S. citizenship ” trap, a dangerous trap that is presenting itself to unsuspecting foreign nationals and immigration applicants with increasing frequency as of late.

Since the last time I wrote on this topic, the landscape has become a little more daunting. Inquiries made by Immigration officials into whether or not an applicant for permanent residence, or U.S. citizenship has falsely claimed U.S. citizenship seem to be increasingly of concern. Immigrants and their loved ones should be aware of the consequences in admitting to having falsely claimed U.S. Citizneship.

Voting or registering to vote

Unless you a United States citizen (by birth, Naturalization, or the Naturalization of both (and sometime one) of the parents when you are a minor) you are not eligible to vote. It seems that lately my law practice has been flooded with clients who accidentally voted for one reason or another, and are now facing severe immigration consequences.

Beware: if you are asked by a government representative if you would like to register to vote, and you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot and should not vote. The person who is asking you may not even be thinking about whether you are a U.S. citizen, but you should be thinking about it.

Use of false documentation and employment issues

As of late at Chicago’s local Immigration office, I have heard reports that some applicants for permanent residence have been questioned about representations they may have made to their employers in order to secure employment, especially when they had no previous immigration status and may have provided false information to employers completing an I-9 Employment Eligibilty Verification Form

The Eighth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals recently decided a case in which an immigrant who had falsely claimed U.S. citizenship was later ineligible to become a permanent resident as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen. The immigrant admitted during his adjustment of status interview that he had presented a false birth certificate, drivers license and social security card to an employer in order to secure a position. He had also checked a box on the I-9 form that he was a U.S. citizen. Before the Eighth Circuit, his lawyers argued that he did not understand what he was claiming when he checked the citizenship box on the I-9 and that he did not understand the questions he was asked during the iInterview. However, the Court supported the finding of the Immigration Judge and the interviewing officer that the applicant indeed understood the question at the interview. Also, the Court found that the fact that he had tried to obtain work with his actual identity as an undocumented immigrant and failed, and then obtained work with the identity of another person and succeeded, supported the contention that he falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen.

Based on these trends, it is of utmost important that prospective applicants for permanent residence or U.S. citizenship be prepared to address any form of this issue if and when it comes up within the context of their particular immigration proceeding.

Copyright © 2007-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois