While talking to strangers at a bar, falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen may seem both harmless and fun. If you do so to obtain a benefit under either federal or state law, you may find yourself in serious trouble. That is, a false claim to U.S. citizenship may render you either deportable or inadmissible.
There are a variety of ways a non-citizen can falsely claim to be a U.S. citizen. Here are four common ones:
- An I-9 form
When you start a new job, you must complete an I-9 form. This form verifies your identity and employment authorization. If you attest on the form that you are a U.S. citizen when you are not, you may face immigration consequences.
- A student loan application
Whether completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or another student loan document, you must be truthful about your citizenship status. A false claim to U.S. citizenship to obtain a loan or another similar benefit likely violates immigration law.
- A voter registration card
As the next presidential election ramps up, you may be thinking about registering to vote or casting a ballot. Either is a big mistake if you are not a citizen of the United States. That is, to vote in most elections, you must be a citizen. Even claiming to be one on a voter registration card often causes non-citizens significant immigration problems.
- A U.S. passport application
To obtain a U.S. passport, you must attest that you are a citizen of the United States. Not only does falsely claiming to be one violate immigration law, but it may also constitute a crime. As such, if you are not a citizen, you should not apply for a U.S. passport until you have completed the naturalization process.
A false claim to U.S. citizenship is not often harmless, silly or fun. Instead, it may cause you to experience serious immigration consequences. Therefore, you should never incorrectly assert your United States citizenship. If you have done so in the past, you also should understand your legal options before filing for any immigration benefit.