False Claim to Citizenship Can Sink Your Case and Put You in Jail or Deportation Proceedings

False Claim to Citizenship Can Sink Your Case and Put You in Jail or Deportation Proceedings

When a non-citizen falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen, they are in serious trouble.  Trouble follows even if the statement was inadvertent and/or recanted.

This video discusses the types of ways that people make the mistake of saying they are a citizen when they are not, in fact, a citizen.  We also discuss the criminal and immigration problems that follow such a statement.


Is falsely claiming to be a U.S. Citizen a serious matter and what happens to someone who does this? Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney here in St. Louis.

You know, false claims of citizenship are taken very seriously, not only by the immigration authorities, but also by federal prosecutors. It’s a federal crime to claim that you’re a U.S. Citizen when you are not. It’s not like people just put up a sign and say, “Hey, I’m a U.S. Citizen.”

This usually happens when they’re applying for some kind of benefit, either a benefit from the government or the state government or if they’re applying for some kind of student loan. There’s a three-part test to see if someone has falsely claimed U.S. Citizenship.

One is did they make a false claim. Two, was it a willful misrepresentation? And three, was it made to someone who had a reason to inquire as to your immigration benefit? Sometimes people are applying for a federal job, or they’re getting a new driver’s license and they just click a box that says they’re a U.S. Citizen.

While that may seem like a little matter and something that should just sort of be forgiven, in fact, it’s very serious. It can not only prevent you from ever getting your citizenship, it can also mean that you lose whatever immigration status you had for being in the United States.

I’ll never forget when I first started practicing immigration law, I went to a pro bono citizenship day where all the St. Louis immigration attorneys had gathered to help people fill out their immigration paperwork. A young man came in. He told us this story. He said that he had been laying on his couch one day and then someone came knocking on the door and said, “Hey, there’s an election coming up it’s time for you to register.”

Not knowing that green card holders could not vote he thought he’d been here long enough and that it was time for him to vote. So, he registered to vote. When he got his voter registration card in the mail he went ahead and voted. Now, he asked all the immigration attorneys involved, “Can I still go ahead and apply for my citizenship?” To a person everyone said no. It’s such dire circumstances, such dire consequences that if you have done this you can not only get your citizenship case denied because of it, you can also get your green card revoked for making a false claim of U.S. Citizenship, and you can even get prosecuted and/or deported.

So, it’s a really serious matter. Don’t make this mistake. If you ever have any questions about whether or not you’ve been in the country long enough or that you think there’s some other way you have become a citizen by operation of law, make sure that you’re a U.S. Citizen before you ever represent to anyone that you are in fact a citizen.

If you have any questions about this serious matter, feel free to give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can shoot me an e-mail, jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.