New York City passed new laws that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. Effective 2023, the NYC noncitizen voter laws mean that approximately 800,000 local residents will be able to vote in local New York City elections if they
• are green card holders
• are Dreamers under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
• have lived in the city for 30 or more days prior to an election
New York City has joined San Francisco, and parts of Vermont and Maryland to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. In the rest of the country – including Illinois – unless there is a law allowing noncitizens to vote, it is illegal for noncitizens to vote in all local and federal elections.
Only United States citizens can vote in federal elections, including Presidential elections. In many states, green card holders can get a driver’s license, and a voter registration volunteer at the DMV may encourage them to register to vote, not understanding that green card holders are not U.S. citizens.
The U.S. citizenship application form USCIS Form N-400 will ask questions that evaluate if you have good moral character and if you have ever registered to vote or voted:
• “Have you ever registered to vote in any federal, state, or local election in the United States?”
• “Have you ever voted in any federal, state, or local election in the United States?”
If you answer “yes” to any of the above about voting, USCIS will require an explanation with your N-400 citizenship application to explain exactly what happened, and why you thought you were entitled to vote. If you think you will answer “yes” you ABSOLUTELY should meet with an immigration lawyer BEFORE filing your citizenship application.
An experienced immigration lawyer can help you evaluate the circumstances and why you unintentionally registered to vote or voted illegally, and the best course of action to move forward with your immigration or citizenship application.
United States immigration laws are complex and are updated frequently. If you have a question about immigration, contact Mario Godoy and the immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Chicago, Illinois 630-912-0322.