Good Moral Character Requirement for Naturalization

To qualify for Naturalization, one of the main requirements is that you should be a person of good moral character. It is well known that the United States permits citizens of foreign counties to obtain U.S. citizenship through the legal naturalization process.

To become a U.S. citizen through this process, you will have to prove that you meet a few naturalization requirements. There are several requirements and one of the most important requirements is that you need to be a person with 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.

Bad traits that show a lack of good moral character:

  • Drunk driving or being drunk most of the time.
  • Gambling offenses.
  • 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.
  • Theft.
  • Failing to complete any probation or parole.
  • Smuggling people into the U.S.
  • Not registering with Selected Service System when you were aged between 18 to 25 if you are a male.
  • Multiple crimes for which 5 years or more were spent in prison.
  • Were sent to prison for 180 days or more during the past 5 years.
  • Violating drug laws.

If you have committed certain crimes, your chances of getting American citizenship are none and you will most likely be removed from the U.S. Crimes called “aggravated felonies” such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, violent assault, treason, and illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people and other lesser crimes like bribery or counterfeiting are examples of permanent bars to naturalization.

Immigrants who were discharged from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces without honorary discharge and immigrants who deserted from the U.S. 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.

Generally, the USCIS officers will review your record and the statements that you have provided in your naturalization application. Likewise, there must not be any discrepancy between what you have mentioned in your naturalization application and the oral testimony that you provide during your naturalization interview. Hence, you need to be honest and a less serious crime may also lead to the denial of your application if you try to hide it and if you lie to the immigration officers.

You can use the services of a licensed and competent immigration lawyer should you have any concerns before applying for naturalization.