There are some valuable rights and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of the U.S. These include the right to vote in elections, the ability to sponsor family members for immigration benefits and the ability to work legally for most employers.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, it may be tempting to claim you are. While you probably do not have to worry about making an off-handed remark to a stranger, falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen has catastrophic immigration consequences.
What is a false claim of U.S. citizenship?
Under federal law, it is illegal to falsely claim to be a U.S. citizen to secure any benefit under federal or state law. This is a wide-sweeping prohibition, which typically includes the following:
- Registering to vote
- Voting in an election
- Completing an I-9 form
- Qualifying for government benefits
- Joining the military
What are the consequences of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen?
A false claim to U.S. citizenship makes you both inadmissible and deportable. This means immigration officials can remove you from the country. If you apply for a visa or permanent residency, they can also deny your application. Furthermore, authorities can use a false claim to U.S. citizenship to turn you around at a border checkpoint.
It is important to note that intent is not an element of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. That is, even if you do not intend to do anything wrong, you must face the consequences of making a false citizenship claim.
Regrettably, unlike many other legal infractions, there are no waivers for making falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.