VIDEO: Can I get deported for checking US citizen box on I-9 when I’m not a citizen?

The Board of Immigration Appeals recently handed down a case that makes it clear that if you mark the “US citizen or national” box on an I-9 employment verification form, you may be subject to deportation.

On this video, we discuss the case and explain how false claims of citizenship can get you in big trouble.

TRANSCRIPT:

Does checking the I-9 Form box that says that you’re a US citizen or national when you’re not a US citizen or national render you deportable automatically? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration and deportation attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. The Board of Immigration Appeals recently handed out a decision that talks about what happens when a foreign national claims to be a US citizen or national on an I-9 Form. Of course, an I-9 Form is the document that is used to track someone’s ability to work in the United States at the time they start a new job. In this particular case, a young lady had filled out not one, but two separate I-9 Forms for two different employers, in which she claimed that she was a US citizen or national.

The Department of Homeland Security brought deportation proceedings against this lady, claiming that she had made a false claim of US citizenship, trying to obtain the benefit of work by making that claim. The woman was placed into deportation proceedings, and coincidentally, she was also married to a US citizen, and she filed a I-130 spouse visa application, which had been approved. When you’re in deportation proceedings, the immigration service cannot grant you a green card. You have to first file an I-130 with the immigration service, get that approved and then if the immigration judge presiding over your deportation thinks that you’re eligible to adjust status, then he or she can adjust your status to that of lawful permanent resident, based on the approved I-130.

In this case, the woman claimed that she thought that she might have been a national and that she was confused on what the term national meant. The immigration judge found the lady not to be entirely credible, but he said even taking what she claims is true, she still had sought an immigration benefit, and because she had checked that box, that was enough to render her deportable. The lady filed an appeal, and when you file an appeal from an immigration judge, you go to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Here’s what the Board of Immigration Appeals said. They said that that box showed two things, that her checking the box showed two things. The Department of Homeland Security had the burden of showing that she was removable, that is they were the ones trying to deport her, and they had to show by clear and convincing evidence that the woman was deportable, and the court, the Board of Immigration Appeals said that the court had erroneously concluded that just checking the box on the I-9 Form claiming that you’re a US citizen or national, was not enough to establish that she had falsely claimed US citizenship. The court said that the DHS had not met its burden and that therefore, the immigration judge had erred in concluding that the woman was removable.

The Board of Immigration Appeals said that at the same time, that it wasn’t clear and convincing that she had marked the box and was removable. She also had to show that she was admissible in order to adjust status, that is it’s the immigrant’s burden to show that they’re admissible for purposes of adjustment of status. The court took that same piece of evidence, that same ambiguity about whether or not she knew she was a national, and said that she had that burden to show that she was admissible and able to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident.

You can see that this stuff is pretty nuanced and that it’s pretty complicated. You need to work with a good immigration attorney to flush these issues out. Perhaps, a woman could have laid more of a groundwork to establish that she was a national, or that she thought she was a national, but you can’t fault the attorneys for it because it appears that they did everything they could for the woman.

If you have questions about deportability, removability, about false claims of US citizenship, which is a very serious matter, feel free to give us a call (314) 961-8200 or you can always shoot me an email, jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.