When applying for U.S. citizenship, you must meet several requirements. One such requirement, good moral character, seeks to ensure those who become naturalized citizens meet the same standards as the average community members where they reside. Therefore, you must display good moral character throughout your periods of residence in the U.S.
Understanding the good moral character requirement may help you ensure your eligibility for citizenship and make your path as clear as possible.
Assessing the character of applicants
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, assessment of applicants’ moral character takes place on a case-by-case basis. USCIS will review your record, the testimony you give during your interview and the statements you provided on your application to make a determination about your morals.
Barring the establishment of good moral character
Certain types of criminal conduct automatically bar you from establishing good moral character. An arrest or conviction on these offenses may stain your record and adversely affect your chances of receiving approval for U.S. citizenship. Some of the most common of these include the following:
- Drug, firearms or human trafficking
- Racketeering or gambling
- Money laundering over $10,000
- Crimes of violence
- Persecution, genocide or torture
These and other aggravated felony offenses may bar the establishment of good moral character. Additionally, they may also serve as grounds for your removal from the U.S.
Naturalizing and gaining citizenship involves numerous steps and requirements. Knowing what USCIS expects of you before, during and after the application process may help you avoid the potential pitfalls in the process and ultimately reach your goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.