The naturalization process is long and brings you tremendous relief when it is over. Like all aspiring citizens, you followed many rules during this time on your path to becoming a citizen.

After years of being a permanent resident, displaying good moral character, living in a particular state or district and taking tests to demonstrate knowledge about the United States, your swearing-in ceremony seemed to be the final step. Can the government strip naturalized citizens like you of citizenship?

Denaturalization

According to the New York Times, the answer is yes. In fact, the U.S. Justice Department recently created a new section within its office that is actually named the “Denaturalization Section” for this purpose. The department has the authority to prosecute now-citizens who they feel engaged in fraud during the naturalization process. While it would be rare for this to happen to you, there is actually a growing rate of these types of cases. Over the past three years, referrals to this denaturalization at the department increased 600 percent.

Reasoning

In the past, most people stripped of their citizenship engaged in specific egregious behavior that led to prosecution, including terrorist acts, sexual offenses, human rights violations or participating in war crimes. However, with this new section there may be additional reasons for the government to seek denaturalization. If you took part in other kinds of fraud while you were seeking naturalization, there could be an investigation. This is especially true if you lied about being related to U.S. citizens or married someone under fraudulent circumstances for the purpose of receiving citizenship.