Photo of Maryanne Kline

Maryanne Kline is an Associate in the firm and is based in the Boston office. Her practice is focused on US federal immigration law dealing primarily with business-based immigration issues. She specializes in immigration-compliance issues, business reorganizations and its consequences, and immigration-related due diligence. She is experienced in development of and strategy for the US employment of foreign nationals. Maryanne previously served as co-chair of the Boston Bar Association’s Immigration Law Committee. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

On June 26, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a redesigned version of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used in the final stage of the permanent residence, or “green card,” process for most applicants physically present in the United States.

There is a 60-day grace period during which USCIS will accept either the new version or the older version of the form, which bears an edition date of 01/17/17. Beginning August 25, 2017, however, only the new form, bearing an edition date of 06/26/2017, will be accepted.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that naturalized American citizens cannot be stripped of citizenship if a lie or omission in the application process was irrelevant to the government’s decision to approve the naturalization application in the first place. The ruling in Maslenjak vs. U.S. will ultimately make it more difficult for the government to revoke citizenship, rejecting both the current and prior administrations’ position that all lies–even minor ones–can lead to loss of citizenship.

The case involved an ethnic Serb who lied about her husband’s military service during her refugee processing, obscuring his service in the Bosnian Serb Army. When later applying for naturalization, she falsely claimed that she had never given false or misleading information when seeking an immigration benefit. Divna Maslenjak arrived in the U.S. as a refugee in 2000 and became a citizen in 2007. In 2013, however, she admitted that her husband had indeed served in the Bosnian Serb Army, ultimately resulting in her conviction for making false statements on her application for naturalization, and eventually revocation of her U.S. citizenship for having been obtained “contrary to law.”

Maslenjak appealed, contending that, when the underlying offense in a citizenship revocation case is a false statement, the government must prove that the truth would have negatively influenced the original decision. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the government need not establish that Maslenjak’s misrepresentations were material to the original naturalization decision.

On June 22, the Supreme Court overturned the Sixth Circuit’s decision, focusing on the causal relationship between the violation and the acquisition of citizenship. The Court was particularly troubled that the government’s position results in a “mismatch between the requirements for naturalization on the one hand and those for denaturalization on the other” and the uncertainty this mismatch imposes on naturalized U.S. citizens.

The case will now return to the lower courts. Maslenjak’s U.S. citizenship could remain revoked, but only if the lower court determines that her false statements were in fact material to the approval of her naturalization application.

This ruling significantly raises the bar for revocation of citizenship. Requiring the government to show that it would have denied a citizenship application had it known the truth will make it more difficult for citizenship to be revoked. Even if the naturalized citizen’s lie had a real potential to affect the naturalization decision, the government will have to demonstrate not only that the lie could have impacted the decision, but that it actually would have made a difference. By disallowing revocation based on factors that might not have resulted in denial in the first instance, the Court provides naturalized U.S. citizens much greater security in their new status.

The European Commission is being urged to require U.S. citizens to obtain visas for travel to Europe in an effort to obtain full visa waiver reciprocity for all European Union (EU) nations.

Currently, five EU nations are not eligible to travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.  Citizens of these countries must obtain visas from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad before visiting the United States.

In response, the European Parliament has approved a non-binding resolution urging the European Commission to temporarily suspend visa-free travel of U.S. citizens to EU countries.  If adopted, U.S. citizens would be required to obtain visas for travel to Europe until the United States extends the visa waiver program to all EU nations.

The resolution cites a rule requiring the European Commission to take action within two years against any country that fails to provide full visa reciprocity for EU nations.  The European Commission notified the U.S. in April 2014, so the two-year “warning period” has expired.  At the same time, Canada, Australia, Brunei and Japan were also notified of their failure to provide full reciprocity.  Australia, Brunei and Japan have since extended visa-free travel to all EU nations, and Canada has agreed to do so later this year.

The European Parliament has urged the Commission to take action to suspend visa-free travel for U.S. citizens within two months, but it remains unclear if this will happen.  The European Commission has apparently expressed concern that imposing visa requirements on American travelers to Europe will negatively affect both tourism and trade and, as a result, the European economy.  If the resolution is adopted within the requested timeframe, it may be just in time for the busy summer travel season.

Mintz Levin will monitor this situation and provide further updates as they become available.