Can You Still Become a U.S. Citizen if You Voted Unlawfully in a U.S. Election?

I’m Erick Widman, US Immigration Lawyer.

Thankfully, there is a fairly narrow exception for green card holders who incorrectly voted in a US election. You have to show three key requirements, however, to meet this exception that will allow you to naturalize and become a US citizen.

So prong number one is that your parents must have been US citizens at the time you unlawfully voted. Prong number two is that you must have resided in the US before you became 16 years old. You have to meet all three of these requirements. Number three, you must have reasonably believed at the time that you unlawfully voted that you were allowed to do so because you were a US citizen. All three of these requirements must be met.

You are able to show this reasonable belief by showing the USCIS officer that in the totality of the circumstances, the factors leading up to that decision were acceptable and that they made sense: the length of time that you reside in the US, the age you became a green card holder, are all weighed to determine if that was a reasonable belief. If it was an unreasonable belief, then you’re you’re out of luck.

So avoid voting! If you only have a green card, avoid registering to vote if you only have a green card. But if this does happen to you, if you meet this exception and you show those three prongs of this exception, you should be okay.

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