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Denaturalization Investigations Handbook, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, 2008

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Department of Homeland Security

Office of Investigations

Denaturalization
Investigations
Handbook
OI HB 08-01
January 15, 2008

OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Foreword
The Denaturalization Investigations Handbook provides a single source of
national policies, procedures, responsibilities, guidelines, and controls that should
be followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of
Investigations (01) Special Agents when conducting denaturalization
investigations. This Handbook contains instructions and guidance that will help
ensure uniformity and operational consistency at all 0 1 field offices. The
Denaturalization Investigations Handbook is available on the 0 1 Proprietary Web
site.
Chapter 22 of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Special Agent
Field Manual entitled "Denaturalization Investigations," and all other previous
issuances by INS or by ICE 0 1 on this subject are hereby superseded.
The Denaturalization Investigations Handbook is an internal policy of 0 1 and is
not intended to confer any right or benefit on any private person or party. If
disclosure of this Handbook or any portion of it is demanded in any judicial or
administrative proceeding, the 0 1 Information Disclosure Unit, Mission Support
Division, as well as the appropriate ICE Counsel and/or U.S. Attorney, should be
consulted so that appropriate measures can be taken to invoke privileges against
disclosure. This Handbook contains information which may be exempt from
disclosure to the public. Any hrther request for disclosure of this Handbook or
information contained herein should be referred to the 01 Information Disclosure
Unit.
The 0 1 Policy Unit is responsible for coordinating the development and issuance
of 01 policy. All suggested changes or updates to this Handbook should be
submitted to the 0 1 Policy Unit which will coordinate all needed revisions with
the Identity and Benefit Fraud Unit.

LDirector,
% Office
& of Investigations
! L

Denaturali:ation Investigations Handbook

-ddL
Date

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DENATURALIZATION INVESTIGATIONS
HANDBOOK
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE.........................................................................................1
Chapter 2 BACKGROUND ......................................................................................................1
Chapter 3 DEFINITIONS.........................................................................................................1
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7

Alien .............................................................................................................2
Denaturalization ...........................................................................................2
Lawful Permanent Resident .........................................................................2
Naturalization ...............................................................................................2
United States.................................................................................................2
U.S. Citizen ..................................................................................................2
U.S. National ................................................................................................2

Chapter 4 RESPONSIBILITIES..............................................................................................2
• 4.1
• 4.2
• 4.3

Director, Office of Investigations.................................................................2
Special Agents in Charge ..............................................................................3
Special Agents...............................................................................................3

Chapter 5 AUTHORITY FOR NATURALIZATION AND DENATURALIZATION......3
• 5.1
• 5.2
• 5.3
• 5.4

Constitutional and Statutory Authority to Grant Naturalization and
Jurisdiction...................................................................................................3
Statutory Authority to Revoke Naturalization..............................................4
Procedural Considerations............................................................................4
Statute of Limitations and Right to Jury Trial..............................................5

Chapter 6 GROUNDS FOR DENATURALIZATION ..........................................................6
•
•
•
•
•

6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5

Criminal Denaturalization, 18 U.S.C. § 1425 ..............................................6
Civil Denaturalization, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a) ..................................................6
Additional Grounds for Denaturalization.....................................................9
Administrative Denaturalization ..................................................................9
Requirements for Naturalization Under Prior Laws.....................................9

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Chapter 7 EVIDENCE IN DENATURALIZATION PROCEEDINGS...............................9
• 7.1
• 7.2

Compliance with the General Rules of Evidence.........................................9
Burden of Proof ..........................................................................................10

Chapter 8 CONDUCTING A DENATURALIZATION INVESTIGATION ....................10
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

8.1
8.2
8.3
8.4
8.5
8.6
8.7
8.8
8.9

Ascertain the Whereabouts of the Naturalized Person ...............................11
Locate and Review All Files ......................................................................11
Identify the Statutory Provisions ................................................................11
Identify the Adjudicator(s) of the Naturalization Application ...................11
Identify Other Witnesses ............................................................................11
Obtain Affidavits and Sworn Statements ...................................................12
Handle Special Evidence............................................................................12
Execute the Affidavit of Good Cause.........................................................12
Preparation..................................................................................................12

Chapter 9 PREPARING THE DENATURALIZATION REPORT...................................13
Chapter 10 CASE STRATEGY..............................................................................................14
Chapter 11 PROCESSING THE DENATURALIZATION ORDER.................................15

APPENDIX
Appendix

Acronyms ...................................................................................................... A-i

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DENATURALIZATION INVESTIGATIONS
HANDBOOK
Chapter 1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The Denaturalization Investigations Handbook establishes policy and procedures for
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations (OI) Special
Agents when conducting investigations relating to naturalization fraud and illegality that
could result in the revocation of U.S. citizenship and the cancellation of the certificate of
naturalization.

Chapter 2. BACKGROUND
Denaturalization investigations are both challenging and technical. Successful execution
of this type of investigation requires knowledge of naturalization and denaturalization
law, criminal statutes relating to naturalization at the time citizenship was granted, the
most current OI policies and procedures, and court decisions. With this knowledge and
background, an investigator can plot the direction of the investigation required to support
civil and criminal denaturalization proceedings.
OI typically receives information uncovered in the course of an unrelated investigation
and from leads generated by other agencies, the public, or various government officials
indicating that a naturalized citizen may not have been eligible for citizenship at the time
it was conferred or committed fraud in the naturalization process.
The U.S. Judicial Branch clearly recognizes the near absolute authority of Congress to
establish qualifications for citizenship (Article I of the Constitution assigns to Congress
the power “[t]o establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization,” U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, cl. 4).
Congress established the qualifications for citizenship in the Immigration and Nationality
Act (INA). See generally Title 8 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), Subchapter III. The
INA charges U.S. Attorneys with the duty to institute denaturalization proceedings upon
a showing of good cause. See 8 U.S.C. § 1451.
Complications that could affect the outcome of denaturalization proceedings should be
carefully considered, such as whether the subject of the investigation is eligible for
citizenship under a different provision, such as the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, or by
Presidential Order for certain Veterans of the Armed Services.

Chapter 3. DEFINITIONS
The following definitions are provided for the purposes of this Handbook:

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3.1

Alien

An alien is any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. 8 U.S.C. §
1101(a)(3).
3.2

Denaturalization

Denaturalization, also known as revocation of naturalization, is the revoking and setting
aside of the order admitting a person to citizenship and canceling the certificate of
naturalization. 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a).
3.3

Lawful Permanent Resident

A lawful permanent resident is an alien who has been lawfully accorded the privilege of
residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with
immigration law. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(20).
3.4

Naturalization

The term naturalization means the conferring of the nationality of a state upon a person
after birth by any means whatsoever. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(23).
3.5

United States

The United States is defined geographically as the continental United States, Alaska,
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38).
3.6

U.S. Citizen

A U.S. citizen is a native of the United States, a person who naturalized in the United
States, or a person who derived U.S. citizenship (from one or both parents), who owes
allegiance to the United States and is entitled to its full rights, privileges, and protection.
See generally, Title III of 8 U.S.C.
3.7

U.S. National

A U.S. national is either a citizen of the United States, or a person who, though not a U.S.
citizen, owes permanent allegiance to the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(22).

Chapter 4. RESPONSIBILITIES
4.1

Director, Office of Investigations

The Director of OI has the overall responsibility for the oversight and implementation of
the policies and procedures set forth in this Handbook.

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4.2

Special Agents in Charge

OI Special Agents in Charge are responsible for implementing the policies and
procedures set forth in this Handbook within their areas of responsibility.
4.3

Special Agents

OI Special Agents are responsible for complying with the provisions of this Handbook.

Chapter 5. AUTHORITY FOR NATURALIZATION AND DENATURALIZATION
5.1

Constitutional and Statutory Authority to Grant Naturalization and
Jurisdiction

The Constitution of the United States empowers Congress to establish a uniform rule of
naturalization. Under this authority, Congress has enacted laws prescribing the process
of naturalization. Prior to 1990, the power to naturalize persons as citizens of the United
States resided with the courts. See 8 U.S.C. § 1421 (1988). The Immigration Act of
1990, Pub. L. 101-649 (effective October 1, 1991), transferred the sole authority to
naturalize from the courts to the Attorney General. See 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a) (1994),
Chapter 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 310.1.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, transferred citizenship and
immigration authorities from the Attorney General to the Secretary of Homeland
Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security now has sole authority to naturalize
citizens of the United States. See 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a); 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a); 8 C.F.R. §
310.1.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, in turn, delegated, among other authorities, the
authority to administer the oath of allegiance to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) in Section 2V of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Delegation Number 0150.1, “Delegation to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services.” As a result, USCIS has the authority to administer the oath of allegiance.
Note: The courts retain a role in naturalization by administering oaths of allegiance and
maintaining a judicial review role. First, upon notice, eligible courts have exclusive
authority to administer oaths. This authority lasts 45 days from the date USCIS certifies
an applicant’s eligibility for naturalization. 8 U.S.C. § 1421(b)(1)(B). After 45 days, the
authority to administer oaths is transferred to DHS. In some jurisdictions, the courts have
relinquished the right to exclusive jurisdiction to administer oaths during the 45-day
period. Even absent exclusive jurisdiction, an applicant may elect to have the oath
administered by an eligible court. 8 U.S.C. § 1421(b)(1)(A), 8 C.F.R. § 310.3(a).
Second, the courts play a judicial review role in that an applicant may seek judicial
review of a denied naturalization application or a pending naturalization application that

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has not been adjudicated by the end of 120 days after an examination. 8 U.S.C. §§
1421(c), 1447(b).
5.2

Statutory Authority to Revoke Naturalization

There are both civil and criminal judicial denaturalization proceedings. The law in effect
as of the date of issuance of this Handbook provides procedures for the revocation of
naturalization.

5.3

A.

The civil statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a), states that U.S. Attorneys for the
respective districts have the duty, upon affidavit showing good cause, to
institute proceedings to revoke citizenship and cancel the certificate of
naturalization on the grounds that naturalization was “illegally procured”
or was “procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful
misrepresentation.” Revocation on these bases is also covered by 8 C.F.R.
§ 340.2.

B.

Authority for criminal prosecution of unlawful procurement of citizenship
or naturalization is found in 18 U.S.C. § 1425. When a person has been
convicted of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1425, the court where the
conviction occurred must revoke the order admitting such person to
citizenship and must declare the certificate of naturalization canceled. The
same court that has jurisdiction over the trial also has jurisdiction to
revoke naturalization upon a conviction. 8 U.S.C. § 1451(e).

Procedural Considerations

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the
Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice
(DOJ) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 22, 2000,
regarding the parties’ mutual responsibilities in denaturalization actions. The MOU
details the steps to be followed by the parties in instituting and litigating civil
denaturalization actions.
Attorneys from ICE’s Central Revocation Unit (CRU) of the Enforcement Law Division
of the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) pursue denaturalization actions on
behalf of ICE and coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and OIL. The CRU is
available to assist Special Agents with matters that arise during the course of a
denaturalization investigation (whether criminal or civil) and with the initiation of a
denaturalization action.
ICE may refer a case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution of unlawful
procurement of citizenship or naturalization under 18 U.S.C. § 1425. ICE must notify
OIL of its intention to refer such a case. Special Agents should consult with a CRU
attorney prior to referral.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of actions under 18 U.S.C.
§ 1425. The U.S. Attorney’s Office must notify ICE whether it intends to prosecute the
action. If the U.S. Attorney’s Office declines to prosecute or intends to proceed with a
civil denaturalization action, or if the U.S. Attorney’s Office wishes to negotiate a plea to
a different offense, it must notify ICE and OIL. ICE and OIL may contact the designated
U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the status of an action.
OIL, and ICE attorneys detailed to OIL, litigate civil denaturalization cases. However,
the U.S. Attorney’s Office may choose to assume primary or exclusive responsibility for
litigating any civil denaturalization case.
OPLA’s CRU attorneys are responsible for preparing referral packets relating to
denaturalization cases for referral to OIL for approval. The referral packet must include
an executed Affidavit of Good Cause, which is a procedural requirement to the initiation
of civil denaturalization proceedings and which must be filed with the complaint. See
8 U.S.C. §1451(a).
Generally, the Special Agent involved in a particular denaturalization investigation
executes the corresponding Affidavit of Good Cause. The Special Agent executing the
affidavit need not have personal knowledge of the facts, and may base the affidavit upon
information from official files. See United States v. DeLucia, 256 F.2d 487 (1958), cert.
denied, 358 U.S. 836. Special Agents should consult with a CRU attorney prior to
preparing the affidavit and initiating a civil denaturalization action.
The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) within DOJ’s Criminal Division handles the
investigation and litigation of all denaturalization cases against Nazi persecutors.
ICE and OSI share joint investigative authority regarding non-Nazi era human rights
violator denaturalization cases. Special Agents must coordinate with OSI on all
denaturalization investigations relating to naturalized U.S. citizens who are suspected of
committing or participating in torture, genocide, or extrajudicial killings.
5.4

Statute of Limitations and Right to Jury Trial

The offense of unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1425 has a 10-year statute of limitations from the date of the commission of the
offense. See 18 U.S.C. § 3291 (“No person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for
violation of any provision of sections 1423 to 1428, inclusive, of chapter 69 and sections
1541 to 1544, inclusive, of chapter 75 of title 18 of the United States Code, or for
conspiracy to violate any of such sections, unless the indictment is found or the
information is instituted within ten years after the commission of the offense.”). The
defendant has the right to a trial by jury.
There is no statute of limitations for bringing a civil denaturalization action. See 8 U.S.C.
§ 1451(a); see also United States v. Nunez-Garcia, 262 F.Supp.2d 1073, 1087 (C.D. Cal.

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2003). There is no right to a jury trial in civil denaturalization proceedings. Luria v.
United States, 231 U.S. 9, 27-28 (1913).

Chapter 6. GROUNDS FOR DENATURALIZATION
6.1

Criminal Denaturalization, 18 U.S.C. § 1425

A conviction of unlawful procurement of U.S. citizenship or naturalization in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1425 results in the automatic revocation of naturalization. Upon conviction,
the court in which the defendant was convicted must “revoke, set aside, and declare void
the final order admitting such person to citizenship” and must “declare the certificate of
naturalization of such person to be canceled.” 8 U.S.C. § 1451(e).
Note: A conviction under other criminal provisions, such as 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (relating to
false statements), does not require the court to automatically revoke citizenship and will
result in the U.S. Government having to engage in separate denaturalization proceedings.
The elements for prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a) are that the defendant
(1) knowingly and (2) contrary to law (3) procured or attempted to procure the
naturalization of any person, or documentary or other evidence of naturalization or
citizenship.
The elements for prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1425(b) are that the defendant (1) for
himself or herself or for another person, issued, procured, obtained, or applied for, or
otherwise attempted to procure naturalization or citizenship (or a declaration of intention
to become a citizen, or a certificate of arrival or any certificate or evidence of
nationalization or citizenship, or duplicates or copies of any of the foregoing); (2) was not
entitled to naturalization or citizenship; and (3) knew that he or she was not entitled to
naturalization or citizenship.
The courts are divided as to whether materiality is an element in a prosecution under 18
U.S.C. § 1425(a). Even though the statute does not specifically require it, the Ninth
Circuit has read 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a) to require materiality in order for misrepresentation
to be contrary to law. See United States v. Puerta, 982 F.2d 1297, 1301 (9th Cir. 1992).
Other courts have taken the view that materiality is not an element of 18 U.S.C. §
1425(a). See, e.g., United States v. Rogers, 898 F. Supp. 219, 220-21 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
Courts in several circuits also have read a requirement of intent, or mens rea, for a
conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1425. See, e.g., United States v. Alameh, 341 F.3d 167, 175
(2d Cir. 2003).
6.2

Civil Denaturalization, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a)

The U.S. Government may bring a civil denaturalization action in federal court based on
two general grounds: (1) illegal procurement of naturalization and (2) procurement of
naturalization by willful concealment or misrepresentation of a material fact.

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To prove illegal procurement of naturalization, the U.S. Government must show that the
naturalized citizen did not fulfill one or more of the statutory requirements for
naturalization. There must be strict compliance with all congressionally-imposed
prerequisites to the acquisition of citizenship. Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490,
506 (1981).
The basic prerequisites to naturalization are lawful admission for permanent residence,
good moral character, and physical presence. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1427, 1429. With a few
exceptions, the “statutory period” for permanent residence and good moral character
begins 5 years prior to the application for naturalization and extends until the applicant
takes the oath of allegiance. 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a)
An applicant for naturalization may not be naturalized if he or she is subject to an
outstanding final finding of deportability. 8 U.S.C. § 1429. Additionally, an applicant’s
naturalization application may not be considered if he or she is in removal proceedings
during the naturalization process. Id.
To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must have been lawfully admitted for
permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the INA. See
8 U.S.C. § 1429. Thus, any fraud or impropriety in which the applicant may have
participated in order to obtain his or her initial entry visa may be used as a basis for a
denaturalization action on illegal procurement grounds.
A naturalization applicant must demonstrate that he or she is a person of good moral
character. 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a)(3). The INA does not define “good moral character,” but
there are statutory and regulatory bars to establishing good moral character. See 8 U.S.C.
§ 1101(f); 8 C.F.R. § 316.10.
A.

A person convicted of murder at any time lacks good moral character.
8 C.F.R. § 316.10(b)(1)(i).

B.

A person convicted of an aggravated felony on or after November 29,
1990, is permanently barred from establishing good moral character.
8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(8); 8 C.F.R. § 316.10(b)(1)(ii).

C.

A person who, during the statutory period, is convicted of, or admits
committing, the following offenses lacks good moral character: (a) one or
more crimes involving moral turpitude (petty offense exception applies);
(b) a controlled substance offense (30 grams of marijuana exception
applies); (c) two or more offenses for which the applicant was sentenced
to 5 years or more; (d) alien smuggling; (e) prostitution and
commercialized vice; (f) polygamy. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(3).

D.

A person lacks good moral character if he or she has been convicted of
two or more gambling offenses committed during the statutory period.
8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(5).

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E.

A person incarcerated for 180 days or more in a penal institution during
the statutory period lacks good moral character. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(7).

F.

A person lacks good moral character if he or she, during the statutory
period, willfully failed or refused to support dependents or participated in
an extramarital affair that tended to destroy an existing marriage, unless he
or she establishes extenuating circumstances. 8 C.F.R. § 316.10(b)(3)(i),
(ii).

G.

Probation, parole, or suspended sentence during the statutory period may
be considered in determining good moral character. 8 C.F.R. §
316.10(c)(1). A naturalization application will not be approved until
probation, parole, or a suspended sentence has been completed. Id.

H.

A person lacks good moral character if he or she, during the statutory
period, committed, or was convicted or imprisoned for, unlawful acts that
adversely reflect upon the applicant’s moral character, unless he or she
establishes extenuating circumstances. 8 C.F.R. § 316.10(b)(3)(iii). The
“unlawful acts” regulation is an important tool for the U.S. Government
because, often, the subject committed a crime before naturalization but
was convicted after naturalization and the crime was uncovered after the
subject was already a citizen. See United States v. Dang, - F.3d -, 2007
WL 1500310, No. 04-17529 (9th Cir. May 24, 2007) (upholding the
“unlawful acts” regulation); United States v. Jean-Baptiste, 395 F.3d 1190
(11th Cir. 2005) (a naturalized U.S. citizen who committed a drug offense
during the statutory period prior to naturalization, but was arrested and
convicted after naturalization, was subject to denaturalization for lacking
good moral character).

I.

A person who, during the statutory period, provides false testimony for the
purpose of obtaining any benefit under the INA is precluded from
establishing good moral character. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(6); 8 C.F.R. §
316.10(b)(2)(vi). This preclusion applies to cases in which (a) there were
affirmative misrepresentations, not merely omissions or concealment;
(b) there were oral statements, not merely falsified documents; (c)
statements were made under oath; and (d) the misrepresentations were
made for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. Kungys v.
United States, 485 U.S. 759, 780-81 (1988).

The denaturalization ground of illegal procurement based on false testimony differs from
the denaturalization ground of willful concealment or misrepresentation of a material fact
because in a false testimony claim, the U.S. Government need not establish materiality.
Id. at 780-83; 8 C.F.R. § 316.10(b)(2)(vi).
To prove procurement of naturalization by misrepresentation or concealment, the U.S.
Government must show that the naturalized citizen misrepresented or concealed some

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fact, that the misrepresentation or concealment was willful, that the fact was material, and
that the misrepresentation or concealment occurred during the naturalization process.
Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 767, 772 (1988). This denaturalization ground
covers omissions, as well as affirmative misrepresentations, and the misrepresentation
need not have been under oath. The test for materiality is whether the misrepresentation
or concealment “had a natural tendency to influence the decisions” of DHS. Id. at 772.
6.3

Additional Grounds for Denaturalization

Additional grounds for denaturalization are: (1) within 5 years after naturalization,
becoming a member of or affiliated with an organization in which membership or
affiliation at the time would have precluded naturalization; (2) refusing, within 10 years
after naturalization, to testify as a witness before a congressional committee concerning
subversive activities, if such refusal results in a conviction for contempt; and (3) in
certain circumstances, the discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces under other than
honorable conditions. 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a), (c); 8 U.S.C. § 1439(c); 8 U.S.C. § 1440(c).
6.4

Administrative Denaturalization

Administrative denaturalization is not available, even though that option was available by
regulation. See 8 C.F.R. § 340.1 (1996). There is a nationwide permanent injunction
preventing DHS from using administrative denaturalization procedures. See Gorbach v.
Reno, 219 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir) (en banc); Gorbach v. Reno, No. C-98-0278R, 2001 WL
34145464 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2001). Therefore, a denaturalization action must be
brought in federal court.
6.5

Requirements for Naturalization Under Prior Laws

In seeking grounds upon which to base a denaturalization action, only those
naturalization requirements that were in effect at the time naturalization was conferred
are germane. See Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 789 (1988). Therefore, when
conducting an investigation, a Special Agent must know what substantive and procedural
provisions were in effect when the naturalization was procured. Special Agents may
consult with a CRU attorney to determine which law applies in a particular case. If the
U.S. Attorney’s Office is handling a case, then the U.S. Attorney will determine which
law governs that case.

Chapter 7. EVIDENCE IN DENATURALIZATION PROCEEDINGS
7.1

Compliance with the General Rules of Evidence

In all denaturalization proceedings, a Special Agent must comply with OI policy
regarding evidence handling and ensure that evidence complies with general rules of
admissibility. Many decisions in denaturalization cases are based on documentary
evidence. As a result, Special Agents should:

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7.2

A.

Review all relevant immigration forms (and supporting documentation) in
the subject’s A-file (i.e., N-400, N-445, I-485 . . . ) for any willful
misrepresentations of material facts.

B.

Obtain all relevant documents, such as certified copies of records of
conviction; fingerprints; arrest records; and official records of marriage,
birth, death, or divorce, in a form that will be admissible in court.
Originals should remain with the A-file in the order they were originally
placed in the file.

C.

Use gloves when handling original documents (the Forensic Document
Laboratory has linked former Nazis to their applications by removing
latent fingerprints from documents).

D.

Retain all the envelopes and packages in which documents are received
for proof of provenance and possible mail fraud charges.

E.

Consult with the U.S. Attorney about the fact that some foreign documents
may take considerable time to obtain because of special certification
procedures that the ICE Attaché and/or U.S. Embassy may be subject to
when procuring them.

Burden of Proof

To successfully prosecute under 18 U.S.C. § 1425, as in all other criminal cases, the
U.S. Government has the burden of proving the commission of the offense and that the
offense was committed by the accused. It is a basic tenet of due process that a criminal
defendant’s conviction must rest upon a jury’s finding “beyond a reasonable doubt” that
the defendant is guilty of “every element of the crime with which he is charged.” United
States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 509-510 (1995).
To sustain a civil denaturalization action under 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a), the U.S. Government
must prove by “clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence” that does “not leave the
issue in doubt” that the naturalized citizen illegally procured naturalization or procured
naturalization by concealment or misrepresentation of a material fact. Schneiderman v.
United States, 320 U.S. 118, 125, 135 (1943). “This burden is substantially identical with
that required in criminal cases – proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Klapprott v. United
States, 335 U.S. 601, 612 (1949).

Chapter 8. CONDUCTING A DENATURALIZATION INVESTIGATION
An all-inclusive list of steps to follow while conducting a denaturalization investigation
cannot be set forth as such steps differ from case to case. To successfully prepare a case,
however, certain steps must be taken in the majority of these investigations. In many
cases, information is received several years after naturalization. When conducting an

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investigation relating to naturalization fraud or illegality, Special Agents should consider
the following steps for building their case:
8.1

Ascertain the Whereabouts of the Naturalized Person

Conduct police and agency checks on the naturalized person and family members.
Identify family member(s) whose status is dependent on the naturalized subject.
8.2

Locate and Review All Files

Locate and review all files relating to the naturalized person, such as the naturalized
person’s immediate family members. From the files, extract potentially useful names and
addresses of relatives and other contacts. Verify whether the subject of the investigation
could have derived U.S. citizenship, therefore making the potential denaturalization
moot.
8.3

Identify the Statutory Provisions

The relevant naturalization statutes are those that were in effect at the time the subject
was naturalized, not those that are in effect at the time of the investigation. CRU
Attorneys are able to assist in the identification of statutory provisions under which
naturalization was granted. Special Agents should also review the regulations applicable
at the time of naturalization.
Determine, with advice from a CRU attorney, if criminal prosecution is possible, and if
the statute of limitations is still in effect or nearing expiration.
8.4

Identify the Adjudicator(s) of the Naturalization Application

Identify, locate, and obtain contact information for the adjudicator(s) who handled the
naturalization application and interview. Obtain any video or sound recordings from the
naturalization interview(s). Identify handwriting and the content of the adjudicator’s
notes in the file (relevant notes will need complete identification and explanation).
Establish, to the extent possible, what questions were asked during the naturalization
proceedings and the subject’s answer to such questions, in order to determine if the
subject willfully misrepresented or concealed material facts.
8.5

Identify Other Witnesses

During the investigation of the subject, look for potential witnesses in both the period
prior to and the period since naturalization. Witnesses can be found in places of
employment, residences, and areas the subject was known to frequent or be active in,
such as clubs, churches, and business ventures.
Indicate within the investigative report the current and future availability of all witnesses,
especially those who may be elderly or in poor health.

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8.6

Obtain Affidavits and Sworn Statements

Obtain affidavits or sworn statements from the adjudicator(s) who handled the
naturalization application and interview. If the interviewing adjudicator is not available,
a Special Agent should arrange to have another adjudicator provide information
regarding the standard procedures followed by all adjudicators during a naturalization
interview.
Arrange to take a statement from the subject and witnesses and plan the interview ahead
of time.
In preparation for civil denaturalization cases, a CRU attorney should be consulted before
taking affidavits or statements from any witnesses since such statements could be
discoverable in a civil case and could be used to impeach witnesses as the case proceeds
through discovery and trial if recollections change or additional facts are remembered
over time.
8.7

Handle Special Evidence

Determine the location of any evidence that cannot be reproduced or included as exhibits
in the investigative report, such as public documents available for examination but not
reproduction. Obtain certified copies of computer printouts from the custodian of records
to show their existence. Request foreign documents as early in the investigation as
possible because there may be special certification procedures attached to their
procurement.
8.8

Execute the Affidavit of Good Cause

Execute the Affidavit of Good Cause, if necessary, upon ICE’s determination that it will
refer a case for denaturalization proceedings. The Affidavit of Good Cause is a
prerequisite to the initiation of civil denaturalization proceedings and must be filed with
the complaint. It sets forth the grounds for denaturalizing the subject. A CRU attorney
may be able to provide examples of affidavits and can assist with the preparation of the
instant affidavit.
8.9

Preparation

Applicants become U.S. citizens at the time they complete the oath ceremony. Special
Agents may find it helpful to observe a naturalization ceremony and the adjudication
process leading to the oath of citizenship.
After the processing of a naturalization application and interview, USCIS sends to the
applicant a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form N-445), which asks questions
pertaining to the period between an applicant’s approved naturalization application and
the oath ceremony. When an applicant cannot attend the oath ceremony, he or she

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returns the Form N-445, with an explanation, to the local USCIS office. USCIS will then
reschedule and send a new notice for an oath ceremony. At the ceremony, the applicant
executes the Form N-445, demonstrating completion of the naturalization process. The
applicant’s A-file may already have a Certificate of Naturalization in it, in preparation for
the ceremony. However, only those files with the properly executed Forms N-445 are
complete.
When an individual has actually sworn in and completed the naturalization process, his or
her name is filed with the District Court Clerk. Sometimes the only indication from the
clerk that the individual was naturalized is a penciled check mark next to his or her name.
Special Agents should look for applicants who may not have completed the process and
are therefore not U.S. citizens.
At all times while conducting the investigation, Special Agents should look for grounds
of illegality and/or subsequent misrepresentation. In doing so, Special Agents should
review all applications that the subject submitted in connection to both the adjustment of
status and naturalization process. For example, did the applicant conceal an unlawful
occupation? Did the applicant actually reside in the jurisdiction of the office where
naturalization was granted or within the United States?
Special Agents should be able to show the section of law under which the naturalization
application was filed or the naturalization granted, along with a chronological list of all
the applications and supporting documents issued to the naturalized person, as well as the
number and date of each naturalization paper and the court of filing or district of
issuance.
If it is evident that the naturalizing authority had full and complete knowledge of what
the Special Agent believes was concealment or misrepresentation, and there is no
evidence of illegality or a subsequent misrepresentation, the investigation should be
terminated after receiving the concurrence of a supervisor.

Chapter 9. PREPARING THE DENATURALIZATION REPORT
In addition to the Report of Investigation in the Treasury Enforcement Communications
System II Case Management, the Special Agent may need to prepare a prosecutorial
report for consideration by the U.S. Attorney (the policy of the local U.S. Attorney’s
Office will dictate whether this report is required and the specific format). In the absence
of the case agent, this report will describe the case to an indictment committee or other
supervising managerial official whose approval may be required to move forward on the
case. As a result, the prosecution report must stand on its own without further
explanation of the facts required and should:
9.1

Include the section of law under which naturalization was granted, the date of the
naturalization, and other pertinent information; provide a chronological list of all
the applications and supporting documents issued to the naturalized person, as

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well as the number and date of each naturalization paper and the court of filing or
district of issuance.
9.2

Include the names and addresses of the attorneys of record – if none, so state.

9.3

Summarize the relevant testimony given by the naturalized person (and witnesses,
when such persons were required) during naturalization proceedings that pertain
to the facts that will be at issue in a denaturalization action. Indicate whether any
objection was made to naturalization and by whom.

9.4

Synopsize those facts developed during the investigation that tend to establish
grounds for denaturalization (illegal procurement or procurement by willful
misrepresentation or concealment of facts), such as the use of aliases and the
failure to disclose prior convictions or criminal history.

9.5

List the names and addresses of all witnesses who may be called, stating briefly
the testimony each witness may give with respect to the issues, and indicate their
availability, willingness to testify, and apparent credibility.

9.6

List all documentary evidence that may be used to prove any point at issue. If the
evidence is not submitted with the report, state where it can be located. Include
the FBI criminal history used in the naturalization application process, up-to-date
information from other law enforcement agencies, and OI investigative reports.

9.7

Describe briefly the present situation and behavior of the naturalized person, with
particular attention as to whether he or she would now be eligible for
naturalization, and mention any special circumstances in the case.

Chapter 10. CASE STRATEGY
Case agents should encourage the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting a case involving
naturalization fraud or illegality to include a charge of “Procurement of Citizenship or
Naturalization Unlawfully” under 18 U.S.C. § 1425 because, upon conviction, the court
is required to revoke the defendant’s citizenship. See 8 U.S.C. § 1451(e). On the other
hand, a conviction for “False Statements” under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 does not require the
automatic revocation of a defendant’s citizenship and will result in the U.S. Government
having to engage in a separate denaturalization prosecution. If the U.S. Attorney’s Office
declines to prosecute under 18 U.S.C. § 1425 and proceeds with a plea agreement to a
lesser charge, the case agent and the Assistant U.S. Attorney should consult the ICE
attorney who would be responsible for handling the civil case and attempt to reach a
stipulation to civil denaturalization as a condition of the criminal plea agreement so that
the civil denaturalization case can be more efficiently resolved.
Prosecution under 8 U.S.C. § 1425 also is an important consideration for subsequent
removal proceedings because an attorney could argue that a conviction for this offense is

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a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony. Civil denaturalization under 8
U.S.C. § 1451(a) may not result in a deportable charge against the defendant. When
applicable, criminal prosecution for 18 U.S.C. § 1425 or civil denaturalization should be
presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the same time as other alleged criminal
violations.

Chapter 11. PROCESSING THE DENATURALIZATION ORDER
After a court issues an order revoking the defendant’s naturalization, the case agent
should coordinate with USCIS Headquarters to ensure that the Central Index System is
changed to reflect the defendant’s new status. Generally, the defendant reverts to the
status he or she had at the time of naturalization. The defendant may or may not be
subject to removal.
The A-file and the denaturalization order should be sent to the Section Chief for Record
Services at USCIS Headquarters so that the records staff may update the Central Index
System.
Note: As of the date of issuance of this Handbook, the address is: USCIS, Central Office
Washington, Office of Records, Attn: Section Chief for Record Services, 4th floor, 111
Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20529.
The A-file should then be obtained for determination of removability and, if necessary,
issuance of removal charging documents.

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Appendix

ACRONYMS
A-B
C
CFR
CRU

Code of Federal Regulations
Central Revocation Unit

D
DHS
DOJ

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Justice

E-H
I
ICE
INA
INS

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Nationality Act
Immigration and Naturalization Service

J–L
M
MOU

Memorandum of Understanding

N
O
OI
OIL
OPLA
OSI

Office of Investigations
Office of Immigration Litigation
Office of the Principal Legal Advisor
Office of Special Investigations

P-T
U
USC
USCIS

United States Code
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

V-Z
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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