The most serious of all immigration violations is a False Claim of United States Citizenship. This acts as a permanent bar for any form of immigration relief. This fraud or willful misrepresentation, which involves making a false claim of United States citizenship for any purpose or benefit under United States immigration laws or others laws, renders the alien inadmissible pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act section 212(a)(6)(C)(ii). If substantiated, the alien in most cases is not able to obtain: admission into the United States; a visa to come to the United States or remain in the United States; or permanent residence. The only possible waiver available is for situations where the alleged False Claim of United States Citizenship occurred on or before September 30, 1996.
A False Claim of United States Citizenship is more typical in connection with an alien’s entry to the United States, admission to the United States, or concerning visa applications. It also occurs when the alien is seeking some form of a benefit, such as employment (either private or with the government), welfare, the ability to vote, or driving privileges in States that inquire into citizenship. Some persons make a False Claim of United States Citizenship to police officers or probation officers when they are arrested or convicted of crimes to hopefully avoid ICE detection for their criminality.
It is important to stress that other fraud violations that do not involve a False Claim of United States Citizenship do not necessarily act as a permanent bar. The alien may be able to obtain waivers depending upon his or her circumstances. Any alien who is accused of fraud, or who requires a waiver, needs the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer.
There is also a very fact specific exception to a False Claim of United States Citizenship when the alien’s parents are United States citizens, the alien resided in the United States before his or her 16th birthday, and he or she reasonably believed at the time of the claim of United States citizenship that he or she was a United States citizen. Under this circumstance, the alien is not inadmissible pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act section 212(a)(6)(C). In this case, the alien actually acquires United States citizenship at birth if one of his or her parents resided in the United States prior to the child’s birth.
A potential defense is that the alien had an honest, but mistaken, belief that he or she was actually a United States citizen. Another potential defense is that the alien did not knowingly make a False Claim of United States Citizenship based upon an inability to read and/or comprehend English.
Thousands of persons each year are prosecuted for Falsely Claiming United States Citizenship or document fraud related to a False Claim of United States Citizenship. An alien should never lie about this issue, because the potential punishment (both immigration and criminal law related) is too severe. Immigration law and Criminal law even overlooks the harsh circumstances that this fraud or misrepresentation causes: families are broken apart; the breadwinner for the family is no longer able to provide for his or her family; financial hardships such as foreclosure of homes, repossession of vehicles, the inability of children to continue in their school.
Many of these cases are substantiated based upon documentary evidence. On the standard Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification used in connection with employment it states that “I am aware that federal law provides for imprisonment and/or fines for false statements or use of false documents in connection with the completion of this form” which is above or next to the provision that asks the job applicant to select “under penalty of perjury” that he or she is either: a citizen of the United States; a noncitizen national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work. Other evidence used to pursue these cases include: voting records; applications for driver’s licenses; applications for welfare benefits such as food stamps; and probation reports.
If this accusation is made against you, the first step you should take is to hire lawyers that are experienced in Immigration and Criminal law. You should never orally or in writing falsely claim to be a United States citizen, and if questioned by law enforcement such as ICE or the police about such an allegation you should clearly and firmly elect to remain silent and ask for the assistance of a lawyer.