The presidential election is just about a year away. Currently, candidates are trying to earn the opportunity to represent their political parties on next year’s ballot. As such, there is a good chance you have formed some strong political opinions. As a legal permanent resident, though, you should not try to register to vote. 

Pretending to be a U.S. citizen when you are in fact not is a serious matter. For green card holders, a false claim of citizenship may result in removal from the United States. Furthermore, you may trigger a lifetime ban on returning to the country. 

Michigan voter registration 

The Michigan voter registration form asks individuals to identify their citizenship status. Specifically, the form requires you to answer affirmatively or negatively to the question, “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” If you attempt to register to vote and check “no,” elections officials can reject your registration. If you check “yes,” though, when you are instead a legal permanent resident, you are making a false claim to U.S. citizenship. This exposes you to criminal liability pursuant to both federal and state law. 

Voting 

You should understand that you do not have to vote to violate the law. Merely asserting you are a citizen when you are not can be sufficient to trigger immigration consequences. If you do not vote, officials may not notice your false claim to citizenship. If you ever apply to become a U.S. citizen, though, your false claim may result in your deportation. 

Naturalization 

If you have never falsely claimed to be a citizen of the United States and are otherwise eligible to naturalize, doing so is the right way to make your voice heard. The naturalization process can take a significant amount of time, however. Before you have received your naturalization certificate and attended your swearing-in ceremony, you should abstain both from registering to vote and casting a ballot. 

Clearly, for legal permanent residents, registering to vote in the United States is a big mistake. By understanding the consequences of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship, you can better avoid serious immigration consequences.