Naturalized citizens can lose their citizenship. A naturalized citizen is an American citizen who was not born in the United States. To be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be at least 18 years-old;
- Reside in the US as a lawful permanent resident for 5 years or 3 years if you are married and living with your US citizen spouse;
- Be physically present in the United States for thirty months within the 5 year period prior to applying or eighteen months within the 3 year period prior to applying for qualified spouses US citizens;
- Have an understanding of English and US civics;
- Have good moral character; and
- Have an attachment to the US Constitution.
For natural born citizens, or people who are US citizens from birth, it is nearly impossible to have their US citizenship taken away. But anyone can give up their US citizenship if they want to.
A person who obtains their naturalization through fraud or by hiding information can lose their US citizenship. When that happens, it means you never really were a US citizen to begin with because the grant was made in error. The government says your US citizenship wasn't real because you tricked the government.
Citizenship loss for criminal convictions
There are certain crimes that may cause the loss of US citizenship. For example, some people lose their citizenship because they lied or hid a criminal background that would have disqualified them from becoming US citizens in the first place.
So, naturalized citizens who cheat to become citizens can lose their citizenship for cheating. But once you’re a citizen, it is almost impossible to lose your citizenship for later bad deeds. There are only a few things that can make you lose your citizenship if you are a natural born citizen or a naturalized citizen.
You can lose your citizenship for treason. In all of US history, fewer than 40 people have been charged with treason.
Other ways of losing US citizenship
You can lose US citizenship for serving in a foreign army, but only if they’re engaged in hostilities against the US This is unusual, too.
You could lose your citizenship if you apply for citizenship to another country, on purpose and by your own free will, and with the intent of giving up your US citizenship.
If you really want to, you can give up your US citizenship. To do this you have to:
- Go to another country;
- Go to the US embassy there;
- Sign an “oath of renunciation;” and
- Not come back to the US.
The people in the embassy will try to make you think twice, but if you go through with it you can't undo it.