2020 is a presidential election year, and many people want to cast their vote in determining the future of America. Many states, including Illinois, allow someone to automatically register to vote when they get a driver’s license. Unfortunately, you may disqualify yourself from obtaining United States permanent residence (a green card) or citizenship if you voted illegally. Only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote. When someone who is not a citizen or legal resident of the United States is issued a driver’s license, it is very possible that they do not realize they must be a citizen to vote and that they are unintentionally claiming to be a U.S. citizen – and will be guilty of voter fraud.
• “Have you ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen in writing or any other way?”
• “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 three questions about false claims to U.S. citizenship and illegal 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 voted illegally. Thankfully, our firm can help with this.
A false claim to U.S. citizenship is, unfortunately, one of the grounds of removal from the United States.
The United States Constitution doesn’t specifically prohibit non-citizens from voting, but voter applications ask whether you are a citizen. Since 1996, non-citizens have been prohibited from voting in federal elections under federal law. State laws vary on whether non-citizens can vote. In Illinois, Chicago allows non-citizens to vote in school council races, but those elections are not official or administered by the Board of Elections.
Non-citizens including green card holders who get a driver’s license or otherwise unintentionally register to vote may not understand that voting in U.S. elections – even though the state registered them as a voter and issued them a voter’s card – may cause their immigration application to be denied and result in removal proceedings being started. NPR reports that noncitizens can face serious legal actions and that it “undermines public trust and opens the way for allegations — even unfounded ones — of voter fraud.”
If you have ever voted or if you have ever registered to vote DO NOT file for citizenship without speaking to an immigration attorney.
An experienced immigration lawyer can help you evaluate the circumstances and why you 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.