Consequences of False Claims to U.S. Citizenship

The Law Offices of Reeves and Hanlon are concerned that aliens may be snared in the false claim of U.S. citizenship trap which recently became law. The Republican Congress had made the immigration laws about as friendly as the Russian Secret Police. This new law is just another example of the extremes that the Republican Party has gone to gain popularity with their right wing constituents.

One very important issue intending immigrants should be aware of is – the consequences of false claims to United States citizenship. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), became law on September 30, 1996. Among its many changes, the new legislation imposes serious consequences upon any alien who makes a false claim to being a U.S. citizen. Under IIRIRA, an alien who falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen for any purpose is not only inadmissible to the United States, but is also deportable from the United States.

For example, an alien who makes a false claim to U.S. citizenship to obtain welfare benefits, to vote in an election or to obtain employment from a private or government employer would be subject to inadmissibility or deportability. In a change from the former law or government, it is not necessary for the claim to have been made to an U.S. government official – claims to U.S. citizenship to state officials or persons in the private sector also make the alien subject to inadmissibility or deportability as well. Additionally, there is no longer any waiver available for aliens who have made false claims to U.S. citizenship. That is, once they are found inadmissible or deportable under IIRIRA, they are permanently barred from the United States.

Unlike intending immigrants, nonimmigrants, or those seeking temporary visas, do have a waiver available. Nonimmigrants found inadmissible for making a false claim to U.S. citizenship are eligible for a waiver and may, in the discretion of the Attorney General, be granted a temporary visa to the United States as a nonimmigrant, but just try to get one from the U.S. Counsel in Manila.

Still, for intending immigrants, there is some good news. This provision is not retroactive. Thus, because IIRIRA became effective on September 30, 1996, these new provisions only apply to false claims to U.S. citizenship made on or after September 30, 1996. Thus, the date on which the fraud or misrepresentation occurred is a key element in the application of IIRIRA’s false citizenship claims and general fraud and misrepresentation provisions. An alien who made a false claim to U.S. citizenship prior to September 30, 1996 in order to obtain a U.S. passport, entry into the U.S., or other benefit under the INA is only ineligible for a visa provided the false claim was made to a U.S. government official.

In addition, because IIRIRA is not retroactive, a waiver is still available for most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants. In order to obtain a waiver the alien must have the requisite family relationship and establish “extreme hardship” to the relative. This waiver is available exclusively to aliens who are the spouse, son, or daughter of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and only if they can demonstrate extreme hardship to the relative.

I am actively seeking to change this mean-spirited law and will continued on behalf of all aliens in my efforts to make the immigration laws more reasonable to immigrants and to the United States of American which needs these new immigrants.