The Form I-9 is used by employers to verify a new hire’s identity and to establish that the worker is authorized to accept employment in the United States. The Form I-9 contains a section in which the employee must attest to his or her immigration status in the U.S. One of the possible answers is a “U.S. Citizen.” A false claim to U.S. citizenship is one of the most serious transgressions that could render an individual permanently ineligible for permanent residence, citizenship and other immigration benefits.
On October 30, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a decision, in Matter of Bett, 26 I&N Dec. 437 (BIA 2014), regarding the admissibility of the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) in immigration proceedings to establish a charge of a false claim to U.S. Citizenship. In Matter of Bett, the foreign national was an applicant for adjustment of status in removal proceedings, based on an approved petition by a U.S. citizen spouse. The Immigration Judge denied the application for adjustment of status and other requested relief due, in part, to Forms I-9 that the applicant had allegedly submitted with his previous employers, which indicated that he claimed falsely to be a U.S. Citizen.
The BIA upheld the Immigration Judge’s decision, finding that a Form I-9 is admissible in immigration proceedings to support charges of removability against a foreign national and to determine his or her eligibility for relief from removal.