Chapter 5 - Cancellation of Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization

A. Administrative Cancellation of Certificates[1]

USCIS is authorized to cancel any Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization in cases where USCIS considers that the certificate was:

  • Illegally or fraudulently obtained; or

  • Created through illegality or by fraud. [2] 

USCIS issues the person a written notice of the intention to cancel the certificate. The notice must include the reason or reasons for the intent to cancel the certificate. The person has 60 days from the date the notice was issued to respond with reasons as to why the certificate should not be cancelled or to request a hearing. [3] A cancellation of certificate under this provision only cancels the certificate and does not affect the underlying citizenship status of the person, if any, in whose name the certificate was issued. 

When considering whether to initiate cancellation proceedings, it is important to distinguish between Certificates of Citizenship and Certificates of Naturalization. In general, USCIS issues Certificates of Citizenship to persons who automatically acquire citizenship by operation of law. If it is determined that the person in whose name the Certificate of Citizenship was issued did not lawfully acquire citizenship, USCIS can initiate cancellation proceedings. [4] 

However, such a person may have an additional basis upon which to claim automatic acquisition of citizenship. Accordingly, if that person’s Certificate of Citizenship is cancelled by USCIS, but the person subsequently provides evidence that he or she automatically acquired citizenship through some other basis, the cancellation of the first Certificate of Citizenship does not affect the new citizenship claim. 

By contrast, a Certificate of Naturalization cannot be cancelled if issued to a person who lawfully filed an Application for Naturalization and proceeded through the entire naturalization process to the Oath of Allegiance. In such cases, the person obtained citizenship though the entire naturalization process and his or her citizenship status must first be revoked before the Certificate of Naturalization can be cancelled. However, a Certificate of Naturalization illegally or fraudulently obtained by a person who did not lawfully file an Application for Naturalization or who did not proceed through the naturalization process may be cancelled. [5] 

B. Cancellation of Certificate after Revocation of Naturalization

If a court revokes a person’s U.S. citizenship obtained through naturalization, the court enters an order revoking the person’s naturalization and cancelling the person’s Certificate of Naturalization. In such cases, the person must surrender his or her Certificate of Naturalization. Once USCIS obtains the court’s order revoking citizenship and cancelling the certificate, USCIS updates its records, including electronic records, and notifies the Department of State of the person’s revocation of naturalization. [6] All cases relating to cancellation of certificates should be coordinated through the USCIS OCC office with jurisdiction.


[^ 1] See Part L, Revocation of Naturalization, Chapter 3, Effects of Revocation of Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM L.3]. A Certificate of Naturalization issued to a person who lawfully filed an Application for Naturalization and proceeded through the naturalization process to the Oath of Allegiance cannot be canceled under INA 342. Officers should consult with local USCIS counsel in such cases.

[^ 2] See INA 342. Under the same conditions, USCIS may also cancel any copy of a declaration of intention, or other certificate, document, or record issued by USCIS or legacy INS.

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 342.1.

[^ 4] See INA 342.

[^ 5] See INA 342.

[^ 6] See Part L, Revocation of Naturalization, Chapter 3, Effects of Revocation of Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM L.3].

Current as of November 23, 2021