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Good Moral Character for Naturalization

To qualify for Naturalization, one of the main requirements is that you should be a person of good moral character. You will not be considered to be of “good moral character” if you happen to commit certain crimes during the five years before you apply for naturalization or if you lie during your naturalization interview.

The following bad traits show a lack of good moral character:

• Drunk driving or being drunk most of the time.

• Illegal gambling.

• Prostitution.

• Lying to gain immigration benefits.

• Failing to pay court-ordered child support.

• Committing terrorist acts.

• Persecuting someone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group.

If you have committed certain crimes, chances of getting American citizenship are very remote and you will most likely be removed from the US. Crimes called “aggravated felonies” (murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, violent assault, treason, and illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people) are examples of permanent bars to naturalization.

Immigrants who were discharged from serving in the US Armed Forces because they were immigrants and immigrants who were deserted from the US Armed Forces are also permanently barred from getting American Citizenship. Even if you behave in other ways that show you lack good moral character, citizenship will be denied. There are certain other crimes that are temporary bars and it generally prohibits you from becoming a citizen for up to five years after you commit the crime.

You are required to report any crime that you committed when you apply for naturalization. This also includes any crime removed from your record or committed before your 18th birthday. You may be denied citizenship if you are not transparent with the disclosures.

You can use the services of a licensed and competent immigration lawyer should you need help with an immigration issue. You can check with the local bar association to find a qualified lawyer. However, you are responsible for selecting a particular attorney. If you need legal help on an immigration issue, but do not have adequate money to hire a lawyer, there are some low cost or free assistance options.

You can get help from:

  • A Recognized Organization or an Accredited Representative –are connected to BIA “recognized organizations.” These representatives charge only a very small fee for the services they provide.
  • A Qualified Representative – provide free services. Law school students and graduates and people with good moral character who have a personal or professional affiliation with you fall under this category.
  • Free Legal Service Providers : There are many attorneys and organizations willing to represent immigrants in proceedings before the Immigration Courts. The attorneys and organizations have agreed to help immigrants pro bono (free of charge) only in immigration proceedings.

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