Loss of Citizenship: Reasons, Procedures, and Reinstatement Options

If you are a legal U.S. citizen, you may be wondering if it is possible for someone to lose their citizenship. Unfortunately, the loss of citizenship is something that can happen for specific reasons, although it is not incredibly common. Here is a complete overview of the loss of citizenship, why this may happen, who it can happen to, and what you can do about it.

How Can You Lose American Citizenship?

If you have gone through the naturalization process, the possibility of losing your U.S. citizenship is probably something you have thought about. The good news is that it is not common for a U.S. citizen to lose their citizenship as this only happens in very particular circumstances.

It is also worth mentioning that according to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. constitution, the government does not have the power to revoke the citizenship of a natural-born citizen. However, if you are someone who became a U.S. citizen due to the naturalization process, you need to be aware of the possibility of the loss of citizenship. If this happens to you, you could face removal or deportation from the United States.

The standard denaturalization process includes having a formal complaint filed against you, which you can respond to. You will have 60 days to answer this complaint by providing evidence that the information is wrong or the statute of limitations has already expired, so you are safe from the loss of citizenship. You also have the option of defending yourselves in a trial or hiring an immigration attorney to do this for you.


Although the U.S. government does not have the power to take away your U.S. citizenship if you were born here, you do have the option of renouncing your citizenship. This is a very serious and formal process that allows you to be stripped of U.S. citizenship if you wish to become a citizen of a different country.

Renunciation is quite rare as it is a complex process that requires you to formally request renunciation, obtain a second passport, be removed from the U.S., and become a citizen of another country. The main risk when you choose renunciation is becoming stateless if you are not accepted as a citizen of another country. You will also be giving up all of the benefits of being a United States citizen and the protection that it provides.

Something else to keep in mind is that orientation is usually permanent, so you may not be able to regain citizenship in the future.

Dishonorable Military Discharge

If you became a naturalized U.S. citizen by serving in the military, this could also lead to a loss of citizenship in certain circumstances. This can happen if you are dishonorably discharged before you have served five years in the military. Situations that can lead to dishonorable discharge include desertion and sexual assault.

Subversive Acts

According to the U.S. government, subversive acts are acts committed with the intent to harm U.S. officials or overthrow the U.S. government. You could face losing U.S. citizenship if it is proven that you joined a subversive organization within five years of being naturalized. You could also face losing citizenship if you refuse to testify before Congress about your alleged involvement in subversive acts.

Obtaining Citizenship Illegally

If it is found that you obtained citizenship through illegal means, you could also face losing your citizenship and being deported. A typical example of this is if it is found that you lied during the naturalization process. Examples of this include hiding criminal activities or purposefully misrepresenting yourself or the situation.

If it is found that you obtained U.S. citizenship illegally, you could also potentially face criminal charges for fraud.

What to Do if You Are Losing U.S. Citizenship

The reasons for losing U.S. citizenship are very specific, which is why it is not incredibly common for people to face this issue. However, if you are facing the situation, you will need to act quickly and hire an immigration attorney to help represent you when navigating this process. Losing citizenship can be quite complicated, and you have to follow a different process depending on how you want to address the situation.

Filing an Appeal

The most common path people take when facing loss of citizenship is to file an appeal. An appeal allows you to appeal the decision and show that the reason for the loss of citizenship is incorrect or an error. For example, if the loss of citizenship is based on lying during the naturalization process, you can provide proof that you did not lie.

An immigration attorney can help you gather evidence to support your appeal as well as act as your advocate. This is especially important for severe cases where you may be facing the loss of U.S. citizenship due to fraud or adverse acts.

Applying For Naturalization

If one of these ways to lose U.S. citizenship applies to you, you may wish to have your citizenship reinstated so that you can become a citizen again. For some situations, this is an option, which usually involves going through the naturalization process again to become a citizen.

When you do this, you must take the additional step of hiring an immigration attorney who can help ensure you go through this process correctly. Proceeding with the naturalization process incorrectly or accidentally misrepresenting yourself can lead to issues later on as well as a lengthier process.

The standard eligibility requirements for naturalization include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have the ability to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Be of a good moral character

To apply for naturalization, you need to fill out form N-400 and provide all of the necessary documentation regarding your identity and background. You also need to prepare for your interview and citizenship test if your application proceeds without any issues.

Seek Help From an Immigration Attorney

Are you facing the possibility of losing citizenship in the United States? Contact us today at U.S. Immigration Law Counsel® at 800-666-4996 to speak with an immigration attorney about your case. We deal with the government, so you don’t have to!

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