20 Mar What is “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.
Note: This is not a legal advice.
- On January 16, 2019, we received an approval of naturalization for a client who received a waiver of misrepresentation in Immigration Court.
- On January 28, 2019 we received an approval of adjustment of status for a client who entered on a visa waiver.
- On December 6, 2018, we received an approval from Immigration Judge an adjustment of status for a client in removal proceedings.
- On December 26, 2018, we received an approval from USCIS of adjustment of status for a client after our response to Notice of Intent to Deny the case based on good faith marriage issues.
- On December 28, 2018, we received an approval of a naturalization from USCIS for a client who was granted a waiver of misrepresentation in Immigration Court.
- For the month of December 2018, we received approvals of I-751 for three clients.
- For the month of November 2018, we received approvals of two adjustment of status, one naturalization and one U visa petition.
- For the month of October 2018, we received five approvals of N-400 and one approval for adjustment of status, two approvals of I-601A waiver of unlawful presence and one I-751 Removal of Condition on Residence.
- On September 19, 2018, we received an approval of N-400 naturalization application and one Fiancée visa petition..
- For the month of August 2018, we received an approval of four Naturalization applications and five adjustment of status applications.
- 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
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. He practices immigration law, bankruptcy and personal injury law since June 1999. His contact phone is 1-877-456-9266, email: firstname.lastname@example.org