The plight of one individual seeking citizenship after living in the United States for over 50 years demonstrates how frustrating the process can be. The Cuban-born man came to the United States when he was 9-years-old. He was always under the impression that he was a U.S. citizen until he applied for a passport in 2013.
Though he applied for naturalization this past November, his application was rejected. His attorney also fears that criminal charges may be filed against him by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for allegedly holding himself out to be a citizen under false pretenses.
This is a 58-year-old man who has passed multiple background checks, has served in the U.S. Army and had worked as a guard in a federal prison. He was under the impression that the military had taken care of the naturalization paperwork after he enlisted for military service in 1975.
In documents filed concerning his appeal, his attorney filed documentation explaining his story. She tells how her client provided his Army recruiters in California documentation when he was 19-years-old and was taken to what he assumed was an immigration judge. He then took what he thought was an oath or naturalization and then changed his name slightly by dropping a surname.
His attorney states that officials "dropped the ball." She also maintains that he would qualify for citizenship due to his contributions to national security. While he could restart the five-year process towards citizenship once again, he is hoping that the process could be expedited.
Unfortunately officials do not always get the process right. The entire process is sometimes too difficult for anyone not experienced in these matters to clearly understand. Please ask for legal assistance if you have questions or concerns regarding citizenship.
Source: Business Insider, "Cuban-born man denied citizenship after almost 50 years in U.S.," Barbara Liston, May 13, 2014