Obtaining a green card is often a lengthy and complicated process. During the process, officers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are likely to consider whether you are admissible to the country. They may also investigate whether you have done something to trigger your removal.
While there are many grounds of inadmissibility and removability, falsely claiming to be a citizen of the U.S. may result in serious immigration-related consequences. Specifically, if you make a false claim to U.S. citizenship, you may be both inadmissible and removable.
False claims to U.S. citizenship
Some false claims to U.S. citizenship are worse than others. If you tell a stranger at a bar you are a U.S. citizen, you probably do not have to worry much. Claiming to be a U.S. citizen to gain some benefit under federal or state law, though, is often problematic.
Benefits under federal and state law
In U.S. immigration law, many types of claims can be for the purpose of securing a benefit under federal or state law. Claiming to be a citizen to obtain an immigration benefit, food stamps, social security benefits, or other means-tested benefits may render a person inadmissible and removable. Even checking the U.S. citizen box on an I-9 Form to obtain a job may land you in hot water.
Many grounds of inadmissibility and removability have waivers. With these, you seek official forgiveness for actions that are bad under immigration law. Regrettably, a false claim to U.S. citizenship is not typically waivable.
If you falsely claim to be a U.S. citizen, your dreams of becoming a legal permanent resident may be forever out of reach. Ultimately, if you are not one, you must think twice before pretending to be a U.S. citizen.