22 Aug Do you have good moral character for Naturalization?
By Atty. Crispin Caday Lozano
Most denials of naturalization application is premised upon lack of good moral character. For many people the term “good moral character” is not well defined. In this issue we will clarify some of the common misconceptions about “good moral character” Our immigration law requires that an applicant for naturalization be a person of “good moral character.” The period reviewed for most applicants is the five years prior to filing the N-400. Some applicants who are married to U.S. citizens are able to take advantage of the shorter timeframe of three years, instead of the standard five years.
It is important to remember that, in addition to the three or five year period prior to filing for naturalization, the requirement to maintain good moral character continues until the oath of citizenship is completed and one actually becomes a U.S. citizen. Therefore, acts that occur after filing the naturalization application and prior to the oath ceremony can affect eligibility and must be disclosed. There are also some acts occurring prior to the three- or five-year period that are serious enough to prevent naturalization. These are described below. This is just one of the nuances that needs to be considered when filing for U.S. citizenship.
The good moral character in naturalization has certain requirements. There are permanent and conditional bars to the determination of good moral character.
We will discuss the conditional bars to naturalization in this article.
Q: What do conditional bars to good moral character mean?
A: Conditional bars are not permanent in nature and are triggered by specific acts, offenses, activities, circumstances, or convictions within the statutory period for naturalization, including the period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Some crimes bar you from naturalizing for only the five or three years prior to your applying for naturalization. That’s because the law requires a naturalization applicant to prove five years of good moral character as a condition for naturalizing, three years if you qualify under the special rules that apply to certain spouses of US citizens.
Q: What crimes are considered conditional bars to good moral character?
A: Crimes in this conditional bar category include any crime involving moral turpitude, two or more gambling offenses, a drug offense, two or more nonpolitical offenses for which a judge sentenced you to five years’ imprisonment or more, and any crime for which you were confined to prison for more than 180 days. So, if the crime is in this group, but is not an aggravated felony, you can naturalize five (or three) years after having committed the crime.
Q: How can it be determined that an act is a crime involving moral turpitude?
A: Whether an offense is a CIMT is largely based on whether the offense involves willful conduct that is morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, the essence of which is a reckless, evil or malicious intent. The Attorney General has decreed that a finding of “moral turpitude” requires that the perpetrator committed a reprehensible act with some form of guilty knowledge.
Q: What crimes can be considered crimes involving moral turpitude?
A: A crime involving fraud or dishonesty is usually considered to involve moral turpitude.
Other crimes the law considers to involve moral turpitude are: arson; assault with intent to kill or inflict serious bodily harm; bigamy; blackmail; bribery; bad check convictions; burglary; counterfeiting; larceny; perjury; prostitution; rape; drug crimes; receiving stolen goods; robbery; and sexual offenses. These crimes may be divided into crimes against a person, crimes against property, sexual and family crimes, and crimes against the authority of the government,
Q: When are crimes against a person considered a CIMT?
A: Crimes against a person involve moral turpitude when the offense contains criminal intent or recklessness or when the crime is defined as morally reprehensible by state statute. Criminal intent or recklessness may be inferred from the presence of unjustified violence or the use of a dangerous weapon. For example, aggravated battery is usually, if not always, a CIMT. Simple assault and battery is not usually considered a CIMT.
Q: When are crimes against property considered a CIMT?
A: Moral turpitude attaches to any crime against property that involves fraud, whether it entails fraud against the government or against an individual. Certain crimes against property may require guilty knowledge or intent to permanently take property. Petty theft, grand theft, forgery, and robbery are CIMTs in some states.
Note: This is not a legal advice.
- On July 27, 2018, we received an approval for permanent resident for a client who was abused by her spouse under VAWA.
- For the months of May to June 2018, we have received four Naturalization applications approvals and two Adjustment of Status approvals
- On April 18, 2018, we received a grant of waiver from Immigration Court for a husband and wife client who made a misrepresentation of their marital status but has no criminal records, has long residence and strong family ties in the U.S.
- On April 12, 2018, the Immigration Judge in San Francisco approved a waiver of misrepresentation in applying for a visa for our client who has been in the U.S. for 26 years, no criminal record and strong family ties in the U.S.
- On April 3, 2018, we received an approval from USCIS for a U visa for a client who was a victim of crime.
- For the month ending March 31, 2018, we received approvals for four naturalization applications.
- For the week ending March 31, 2018, we received approvals of six Adjustment of Status, two Application to Remove Condition on Residence and two Renewal of Green Card approvals.
- On March 9, 2018, we received an approval from USCIS for adjustment of status for a client who was abused by her spouse. The I-601 waiver was approved based on extreme hardship.
- On February 15, 2018, we received a grant from Immigration Judge for a waiver of misrepresentation for a client who has been in the U.S. for long period of time.
If you have immigration problems the Law Offices of Crispin C. Lozano can help you find a solution before your problem gets worse which could lead to deportation and family separation.
Crispin Caday Lozano, Esq. is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association. He specializes in immigration law and personal injury. For free consultation email or call (firstname.lastname@example.org / 1-877-456-9266)