22 May Failure to support dependents is a bar to good moral character
Failure to support dependent child and spouse is a conditional bar to good moral character (GMC).
Q: When does failure to support dependents constitute a conditional bar to good moral character?
A: An applicant who willfully failed or refused to support his or her dependents during the statutory period cannot establish GMC unless the applicant establishes extenuating circumstances. The GMC determination for failure to support dependents includes consideration of whether the applicant has complied with his or her child support obligations abroad in cases where it is relevant.
Q: What if there are no court orders for child support?
A: Even if there is no court-ordered child support, the courts have concluded that parents have a moral and legal obligation to provide support for their minor children, and a willful failure to provide such support demonstrates that the individual lacks GMC.
Q: What acts constitute failure to support dependents?
A: An applicant who fails to support dependents may lack GMC if he or she: deserts a minor child; fails to pay any support; or obviously pays an insufficient amount.
Q: Does the applicant have to declare failure to pay or have arreas in child support?
A: If the applicant has not complied with court-ordered child support and is in arrears, the applicant must identify the length of time of non-payment and the circumstances for the non-payment. An officer should review all court records regarding child support, and non-payment if applicable, in order to determine whether the applicant established GMC.
Q: What if there are extenuating circumstances in the failure to support dependents?
A: If the applicant shows extenuating circumstances, a failure to support dependents should not adversely affect the GMC determination.
Q: What are the extenuating circumstances that may be considered?
A: The officer should consider the following circumstances:
• An applicant’s unemployment and financial inability to pay the child support;
• Cause of the unemployment and financial inability to support dependents;
• Evidence of a good-faith effort to reasonably provide for the support of the child;
• Whether the nonpayment was due to an honest but mistaken belief that the duty to support a minor child had terminated; and
• Whether the nonpayment was due to a miscalculation of the court-ordered arrears.
Note: This is not a legal advice. You should consult with an immigration attorney about your specific circumstances.