September 23, 2016

Warning About Voter Registration

Disciples Immigration Legal Update provided by Immigration Legal Counsel, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions.

The deadlines to register to vote in the November 8 election are coming up in most states. Now is a good time to check that your registration is up to date, especially if you have moved since the last time you voted.

But immigrants have different concerns when it comes to voter registration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, voting in a U.S. election makes you inadmissible, which means you can never qualify for any kind of visa or lawful permanent residence. If you are not a U.S. citizen, claiming to be a citizen, including on a voter registration form, makes you deportable.

(There is a small exception for individuals who reasonably believed they were U.S. citizens because they resided in the U.S. before turning 16 and had parents who were U.S. citizens.)

All this may be obvious, but since the consequences are so dire, it's worth being extra careful. Driver licensing agencies that do "motor voter" registrations and an abundance of well-intentioned voter registration drives right now make it possible to register by accident.

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