Sometimes American Citizens are denied entry into the United States. How can that happen?
This news article is a fantastic example of how convoluted US Immigration Laws can be. This woman is a citizen by derivative citizenship, the same way that former Presidential Candidate and current United States Senator John McCain gained his citizenship. She can prove it, but she does not have the government issued document acknowledging it.
However, the form to file for proof of citizenship can only be filed in the US, and we won't let her in to file the form. Again, it's not to request citizenship, it's a request to get proof of her existing citizenship. Requesting or applying for citizenship is completely different. That is an eligible alien applying to become a citizen. That requires a different application with subjective judgments of the alien's character. This is a citizen requesting a government document saying she is already a citizen.
The reason the government won't let her in? Because the custom's agent thinks she will stay in the United States once she has proof of her citizenship. And we can't have American Citizens doing things like that, can we? Why not come in on a tourist visa?
The problem has to do with immigratory intent. When you apply for a non-immigrant visa like a tourist visa, you are stating that you do not intend to permanently stay in the United States. It is in the custom agent's discretion to determine whether or not that is true.
Often individuals are not allowed to visit on a tourist visa if they have an immigrant visa pending. This is because the government believes the immigrant would not go back and wait for their visa. In this case, the government is not granting parole for a one time visit to file this citizenship form, because the government thinks once obtaining proof of citizenship, the citizen will not leave. Which would be fine if the citizen already had proof of being a citizen. To be fair, the customs agent does not know that she is a citizen. The agent is not allowed to make that judgment without the proper required documentation. That documentation in this situation is unattainable outside the United States.
US citizen needs proof of citizenship ---> can only get proof by entering the United States --> so she can file a form to get the proof --> is denied entry because the United States government thinks she will stay in the United States --> which would be fine if she had the proof already--> but she does not have it so go back to the beginning.
The simple solution is to allow the application for the document to occur at a US Consulate abroad, then the citizen could prove her citizenship before entry into the United States.