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Applicant for Citizenship Must Demonstrate Good Moral Character 

To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must demonstrate good moral character. Having a criminal history can not only affect your eligibility, but you may even end up in removal proceedings.  Imagine applying for citizenship and then face the likelihood of being deported!

Under INA 101(f), the applicant must demonstrate good moral character for five years (or three years based on marriage to a U.S. citizen) preceding the N-400 application.

The applicant to U.S. Citizenship is barred from establishing Good Moral Character if they committed the following offenses during the relevant statutory period:

  • Prostitution and commercialized vice
  • Alien smuggling
  • Crimes of moral turpitude (unless petty offense or juvenile exceptions apply)
  • Drug crimes, except single possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Multiple crimes with a total sentence of five years or more
  • Drug trafficking
  • Two or more gambling offenses
  • False testimony to obtain an immigration benefit
  • Assistance in Nazi persecution, participation in genocide, or commission of acts of torture or extrajudicial killings
  • Severe violations of religious freedom by foreign government official

The following individuals are permanently barred from establishing Good Moral Character:

Further, a person cannot establish Good Moral Character if during the relevant statutory period he or she is or was:

  • Confined to a penal institution for 180 days or more
  • A habitual drunkard
  • A polygamist
  • A person who derived his or her income principally from illegal gambling

Good Moral Character Looked at on a Case By Case Basis 

Even if one does not fit within any of the above categories, an applicant may lack good moral character.  Under 8 CFR 316.10, each applicant’s moral character is evaluated on a case by case basis.  You should always consider the risks involved in applying for citizenship if you have a criminal record or other issues.  Let attorney Kyce Siddiqi, an affordable citizenship lawyer, help you with your citizenship application.  We will carefully examine your N-400 application and discuss your options before submission.