People come to the US looking for opportunities and growth. If you are a person who was not born in the US but have earned citizenship you are a Naturalized Citizen.
You came to the US, as a child or an adult, and made a home for yourself. Later, you had to go to jail and now you’re a felon.
You worked hard to pass your citizenship tests, waited years, and finally became a citizen. If you committed a felony, will you have to give up your citizenship? Will you have to go back to Green Card or Visa status, or worse leave the country?
Getting Citizenship and Revocation of It
To become a naturalized citizen of the US there are a series of stipulations that you must meet. The main basis of these criteria is that you will contribute to US society but also be of age to make this choice.
The process can take several years for a person who wasn’t born in the US and consists of a few points.
- You must be over the age of 18. In the US, this is the legal age a person is an adult and able to make their own decisions.
- Previous status in the US. This means that you’ve held a green card for at least five years or married to a US citizen.
- You are able to live in American Society. This means you are able to read, write, and speak the English language.
- You have good moral character. This means that you do not lie, harm anyone, steal. You conform to America’s views of right and wrong.
A Naturalized Citizen with a felony is still a citizen. If the concern arises that you may lose citizenship, you won’t just because you got in trouble. Once you’ve received your citizenship you are like every native-born citizen.
You have the same legal rights and protections as anyone else. Like a US-born person would not fear deportation, generally, you have nothing to worry about.
There are exceptions to this though. Unfortunately, citizenship status is not concrete for any immigrant. Felony or not, if you lied on your initial application you may lose your legal status. This lie may come up when you are in court.
If you have a subpoena and fail to testify before Congress your citizenship is in jeopardy. Once you arrive in the US, do not join a subversive group. Groups that may cause you to lose citizenship are considered terrorist organizations.
As an American citizen, you have the right to join the United States Armed Forces. The military is a great way to earn income and have job security while picking up new skills. If you are dishonorably discharged, your citizenship is eligible for revocation.
A dishonorable discharge happens if you leave your military duty without permission. It can also happen if you are guilty of sexual assault.
Following the Same Path as US Born Felons
Although you won’t suffer deportation, a felony conviction is no cakewalk. There is a stigma that comes with this type of conviction.
A crime that is punishable by more than one year is likely a felony. This can be anything as serious as murder to a non-violent crime such as drug possession.
Once convicted, you will lose many rights. You will no longer be able to vote or carry a firearm. Making things more complicated, it will be difficult to rent a home or get any job you want.
A felony conviction is a difficult thing to live with for any citizen. It will be important if this happens to you that you find the right support system when you’re released.
Relying on friends and family to help you find stable income and housing will help you to get back on your feet. There are non-profit organizations that will help people find jobs and housing.
You will have to find work, a place to live, and transportation to start your life over. All these things can seem impossible for someone fresh out of prison.
What if You are Eligible for Revocation?
What happens if your felony conviction shows that you lied on your application? Or if your felony conviction caused you to be discharged from the military?
This will put you in a tight spot. If you lied to become a citizen is there anything you can do to avoid losing your citizenship?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to hire a lawyer and find out exactly what your options are. Until you turn over your certificates you are still afforded rights.
The government has all the responsibility to prove you falsely obtained citizenship. Even if you fail the first time to prove you are innocent, you do have the right to an appeal. This means you go to a court with more power and argue your case.
You’ll want to examine your rights based on your own circumstances. Depending on what your lawyer says, it may be a good idea to prepare for the worst scenario.
Contacting family and friends of your origin country is going to be ideal if this happens. Also, you’ll want to consider your family in the US.
Anyone who gained their citizenship because of yours is also eligible for revocation. Unfortunately, this includes your spouse and children if they were not born in the US.
If you are an American citizen, regardless of where you are born, you are safe from revocation. Only if you meet certain criteria will you be eligible to have your citizenship revoked.
It is important to understand you will lose many of your rights as a citizen when convicted of a felony. Voting rights, gun rights, and certain protections will no longer apply to you.
It is possible to overcome setbacks. Many companies and landlords are more willing to accept people. Especially those whose crimes were non-violent or occurred only one time.
If you are eligible for revocation it is important to have legal representation. It is also important to plan for the worst. Creating a new life in the country you were born in may be the only option once your citizenship has been revoked.