You spent years working to become a U.S. citizen. After obtaining your green card, you fulfilled all the requirements to qualify for naturalization. You may have had to learn English and study for the civics test. Perhaps you took a class or worked with a coach to prepare for your interview. It is possible you spent time on more than one waiting list throughout the process.

Finally, you completed all your prerequisites and took your oath of allegiance. For many, this is one of the proudest days of their lives. Now you may call yourself a U.S. citizen, but is this a status that is yours forever? Is there any reason for which the government can revoke your hard-earned status?

Not without good reason

The process of denaturalizing a citizen is not one the U.S. government takes lightly because it results in deportation and often affects others besides the person in question. There is a high burden of proof the government must meet following a thorough investigation. You may be surprised to learn that denaturalization is not an immigration issue. In fact, the proceedings take place in federal court, for example, in the California district where you reside. You may face this legal dilemma for any of the following reasons:

  • Authorities discover you falsified your naturalization application, for example omitting details about criminal charges or lying about your identity.
  • You refuse give testimony to a committee of Congress that may be investigating you for subversive activity.
  • You violate your oath of allegiance by gaining membership in a subversive organization such as Al Qaeda.
  • The U.S. dishonorably discharges you before the end of your five-year term, provided your military service was the pathway to your citizenship.

If the government meets its burden of proof, the court will strip you of your citizenship. The decision of the court in your case may not be final because you have the opportunity to file an appeal. Your appeal may cite legal errors the lower court may have made or may contend that the evidence presented was not enough to prove you intentionally withheld information.

Because the charges in a denaturalization case are often serious and the consequences life-changing, you may not wish to deal with them alone. You have the right to legal counsel to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have about the matters that jeopardize your status as a naturalized citizen.