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Don’t File for Citizenship?

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Maybe I shouldn’t apply for my citizenship. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States, out of my backyard, out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m in the backyard. It’s Sunday and I’m shooting today’s video. I have a viewer email that I’m going to read to you and then I’m going to answer the question. Let’s get to it. Today’s email comes from Julie. Here’s what she says. “Hi Jim, I watched your video on YouTube. I’m applying for my citizenship after being married to a US citizen. I got my Green Card five years ago. Before I had the Green Card, I said I was a US citizen on the I-9. I told the lady at the interview to the Green Card, I’m in Illinois. I haven’t had anything bad during the five years. I’m wondering if I should not apply for citizenship and just keep the Green Card”

Again, that’s from Julie. That email came in last night. I’m going to send her a response, but I thought I’d make this video because I thought the answer to the question might help everyone. There are some times where you don’t want to apply for citizenship. There’s some Cardinal sins, if you will, or unforgivable offenses at USCIS. One of those is filing a frivolous asylum claim. One of those is engaging in marital fraud, immigration fraud, and the third is making a false claim to citizenship. Now, when people come to see me at the office or I do a consult, I often tell them the story about the first time that I went to a naturalization day.

This is like where all the immigration lawyers in town got together and worked Pro Bono, worked for free on say, a Saturday morning. I’m in some church basement, helping people fill out their naturalization paperwork. We weren’t actually becoming their lawyers. We were just helping them fill out their forms and then they would do the case on their own. I remember the first time I did this, a few minutes before we were finished, a young man from Africa came in and he told us a story that he had, gotten his driver’s license. And when he got his driver’s license, they had automatically, they already registered him to vote.

He had actually gone ahead and voted. All of the immigration lawyers in town basically told this guy, “Sorry, Bud, you should never apply for citizenship because this is a deportable offense. My answer to Julie stems from that, and from my years of experience handling these kinds of situations. If what Julie says is accurate, that she was, she made the immigration officer aware of this when she got her Green Card. I’m wondering if the officer really did understand what she was saying, because certainly now if that had happened, the officer would not have given Julie a Green Card,. I don’t think they certainly would have sat on the case. Maybe it was discussed briefly, or maybe the officer did understand what Julie was saying.

But what I do know is that here in 2020, if Julie were to apply for citizenship, her case would be denied. It’s very possible that she would be put into removal proceedings. So, Julie, I think you answered your own question at the end when you said, “I’m wondering if I should not apply for the citizenship and just keep the Green Card?” Certainly for now, I would just go ahead and keep the Green Card. The one thing you might want to do is do a request under the freedom of information act, and you can get a complete copy of your file. That way we could see if there’s a notice or some kind of flag in the file, based on the prior interview with the Green Card officer. It’d be good to know that they, if they already knew about it and they gave you your Green Card, that might give us an argument later on, but for now I would not apply for citizenship.

I would instead file a G-639, and get a copy of your file from USCIS, so we can give you good information. But we would want to see the complete file before we really signed off on either never applying or going ahead and applying. Hopefully this all makes sense. If you’re having questions about applying for citizenship or anything else related to the immigration process, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social, so that you get, help us spread the word and make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel. That way, whenever we make videos like this one, you’ll be the first to know. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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