Citizens of the U.S. have some rights and responsibilities that non-citizens do not. For example, U.S. citizens may vote in elections, run for public office and hold certain federal jobs. For legal permanent residents, visa holders and those without lawful immigration status, falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen can have catastrophic consequences.
Unlike many other immigration infractions, such as accruing unlawful presence, a false claim to U.S. citizenship is typically not waivable. Consequently, if you say you are a citizen when you are not, you may have no options for obtaining U.S. citizenship, legal permanent residency or even a non-immigrant visa.
What is a false claim to U.S. citizenship?
In theory, a false claim to U.S. citizenship can be any statement that indicates you are a citizen. Telling a stranger at a bar you are a citizen, though, probably does not trigger immigration consequences. Nevertheless, among others, the following actions may be problematic:
- Checking the U.S. citizen box on an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form
- Claiming to be a U.S. citizen to gain entry into the country
- Registering to vote in a U.S. election
- Casting a vote in a U.S. election
- Filing an affidavit in support of a federal job
What are your risks?
Falsely claiming to be a citizen of the U.S. renders a person inadmissible to the country. This means you can never gain legal status in the U.S. Potentially even worse, depending on how you make a false claim, prosecutors may charge you with a crime. Upon conviction and after completing your sentence, immigration officials are likely to try to deport you.
Ultimately, if you believe you may have falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen, it is critical to understand your rights and options under U.S. immigration law before pursuing any immigration benefit.