Severe Consequence of a False Claim to United States Citizenship
Too often I see cases where a person is faced with being totally inadmissible to the United States for the minor act of claiming U.S. citizenship when in fact they are not citizens. This is a dangerous mistake that some immigrants make; whether they are undocumented or permanent residents, this can cause serious issues down the road. Thanks to the unforgiving section 212(a)(6)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), any foreign national who falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen for any purpose or benefit, is permanently inadmissible to the U.S.. Such a claim also makes the person removable from the U.S. The law covers all false U.S. citizenship claims made on or after September 30, 1996. The worst part: there are no waivers to overcome the bar. Here are some common scenarios where this occurs:
• On an I-9 application for employment
• At the border, when a non-citizen presents documents belonging to a U.S. citizen.
• Registering to vote (only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote)
U.S. immigration laws are filled with waivers that offer atonement for wrongdoing. While a non-citizen who is convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude can apply for a waiver, a person who has falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen cannot apply for such waivers because it does not exist. In essence, immigrants (undocumented and visa holders alike) must resist the temptation of making a false claim of U.S. citizenship to any person, whether a government official or private individual. This minor act will deem the individual inadmissible and subject them to removal/deportation proceedings. Granted, the temptation is high in situations regarding employment but the stake is even higher. Such a mistake has the potential to create a lifetime bar on most immigration benefits. Even if years pass without being caught, there is no statute of limitation for immigration violations.
While there are no waivers for this charge, there are certain defenses (and one exception) that can be raised. Even still, these defenses are strictly interpreted. Only an experienced immigration attorney will be able to successfully win a case involving a false claim to citizenship. On a positive note, there has been word that DHS is implementing a new policy that will shield certain minors from a false claim charge. This possible change comes at a good time when massive numbers of young immigrants are taking advantage of the new DACA policy.
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