Naturalization fraud can refer loosely to federal criminal charges related to deception about a person’s status as a citizen of the United States.
Narrowly speaking, the federal government may accuse a person of naturalization fraud if they lie while they are pursuing U.S. citizenship. It is important to note that lying can include lies of omission, like not reporting a criminal conviction when asked.
Some might also use “naturalization fraud” to refer to cases when a person tries to convince others that they are a U.S. citizen when they are not. People may do this to vote in an election or obtain other benefits that only citizens can receive.
There are even some instances in which a person may try to deny that they are a citizen to avoid a legal responsibility. This is also naturalization fraud.
The federal law against naturalization fraud is broad. It covers a lot of activities. In many cases, investigators and prosecutors can use it even if a person did not intend to commit fraud.
In other words, lying for whatever reason can be enough to face a federal conviction. It does not matter if there was little or no actual harm from the lie.
On the other hand, simple mistakes or even some honest but unfortunate carelessness is not criminal.
The penalties for naturalization fraud are harsh. If convicted, a person will have a felony on their record and will face fines and up to five years in prison.
Additionally, if the person has received citizenship, in some cases the government may attempt to revoke that citizenship. Without citizenship, the person faces the possibility of deportation just as any other non-citizen would.
Those who are accused of naturalization fraud should know their legal options
A person who is facing a naturalization fraud charge before a federal court in Northern Virginia should make sure they understand their rights and their options.
In some cases, it may make the most sense to admit one’s mistake and move on with life. However, there may be other situations in which the government’s case is weak or a more favorable plea deal is possible.