Client: US Permanent Resident
Client’s Country of Origin: Greece
Case Type: N-400 Application for Naturalization; Voter Registration
Voter registration has become a rising issue for immigration firms and their clients nationwide. While holding permanent resident status in the US, those who are not citizens are unable to register to vote—it is illegal. Furthermore, if a non-US citizen has a record of voting, this act is a strict liability offense and can immediately place him or her in deportation proceedings. Regardless, BMVs have been registering people despite their status and continue to do so. Many of us observe registration tables set up in high-traffic locations: shopping malls, grocery stores, and other public areas where people convene. It is likely that representatives at the stands must meet a quota of persons to register, or maybe receive payment per registration. Nevertheless, a simple application or innocent signature obtained by a non-US citizen puts his or her life at a huge risk. Several immigration cases have arisen out of this context, leaving immigration firms and national media at large attention for dealing with this issue.
In this case, our client fell victim to the act. She had been passing through a parking lot of an Illinois shopping mall and was approached by a voting booth representative. Asked if she is registered to vote, our client stated she is not a US citizen. The representative asked if she is married to a US citizen, and if so, she is able to vote due to that status. Lastly, the representative stated that she would not receive her voter registration card in the mail in the event that she is not a citizen. Due to these guaranteed statements, our client sincerely believed the representative, and months later, received a voter card in the mail. She was ecstatic in the belief that this meant she is a citizen, that she now has the civic duty to vote, and subsequently voted in the following presidential election.
Later did our client realize, she was incorrectly informed and still needed to apply for citizenship, all the meanwhile she fell significantly ill. After her naturalization interview, records showed that she had voted multiple times. To her dismay, she was shocked to learn that she had voted more than once. At this point, our client feared her denial of citizenship and even her status living in the States. Attorney Richard Herman of Herman Legal Group assisted her in the following matter. He responded to the USCIS in gathering significant evidence as to why our client’s incident should be excused and why she should be granted citizenship.
First, Attorney Herman provided our client’s affidavit attesting to the false guidance of her eligibility to register to vote. Never did she intend to violate immigration or voting laws, nor did she want to misrepresent herself to the government. Second, along with providing evidence of our client’s voting history and a termination letter of her registration, Attorney Herman obtained documentation from our client’s doctor regarding her serious illness and the prescribed medications that lead to memory impairment. This evidence would explain why she did not recall voting multiple times. Lastly, our client proves to have good moral character. Along with no prior criminal record, she is a hard-working and law-abiding person. Throughout her hardships and life setbacks, she volunteers her time to the community and has even started a walk event in order to raise awareness of the rare disease that has affected her life and raise money to fund research.
The USCIS Policy Manual sets forth that when determining naturalization, the officer should consider the totality of the circumstances and weigh all favorable and unfavorable facts of each case. Attorney Herman argued that in this case, our client’s mistake of voting does not undermine or otherwise adversely affect a good moral character determination for our client’s naturalization. In the end, our client won her case and was granted her official citizenship.