As a naturalized immigrant living in Michigan, forcibly losing your citizenship may be a constant fear. If you face the threat of denaturalization, there are steps you can take to protect your status.

The government may revoke your U.S. citizenship in certain situations. For example, if you lie about your eligibility as an immigrant, the government could have enough proof to pursue denaturalization. The first step in the denaturalization process is a formal complaint against you.

Review the complaint

A formal complaint may come against you if the government has reasonable suspicion that you misrepresented material facts during the naturalization process, failed to disclose past criminal convictions, refused to testify in front of Congress, became part of a subversive group or faced dishonorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. military. The formal complaint will first come to the U.S. district court’s attention, then make its way to you.

Respond to the complaint

You will have 60 days to respond to the formal complaint. A response refers to filing an official answer. Your response can include a defense to the allegations, such as evidence proving them false or information that proves the information against you is inapplicable. Failing to file a response forfeits your opportunity to defend yourself.

Prepare a defense

Once you file your response, the government may either drop the complaint or proceed with a trial in the federal courts. You will need to defend your rights and fight the allegations against you to retain your citizenship in the U.S. Otherwise, the government may permanently revoke your citizenship.

Go to court

To successfully revoke your naturalization, the courts will have to prove with clear and convincing evidence that you committed an act that qualifies you for denaturalization. If the government succeeds, you will lose naturalization and regain your previous immigrant status. If your lawyer succeeds, you will get to retain your naturalized status.