USCIS Policy Guidance Expanded Regarding Naturalization Requirement of Good Moral Character
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, an applicant for naturalization must establish Good Moral Character (GMC), defined as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” Generally, the statutory period for GMC begins five years prior to the date of filing, three years for certain spouses of U.S. citizens, and one year for certain military service members. GMC must continue until the time of the applicant’s naturalization. This period could even be extended prior to the GMC period.
On December 10, 2019, USCIS updated the Policy Manual and expanded the list of unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the GMC requirement. For example, the updated policy addressed how two or more convictions for driving under the influence and post-sentencing charges might affect GMC determinations.
Examples of unlawful acts already recognized by case law include but are not limited to the following: bank fraud, falsification of records, social security fraud, sexual assault, unlawful voting.
The updated Policy Manual discusses conditional bars to GMC for offenses such as one or more crimes involving moral turpitude, convictions of two or more offenses with combined sentence of 5 years or more, controlled substance violation, to name a few.
The USCIS officers will make a determination whether an act is unlawful and adversely reflects on an applicant’s GMC on a case-by-case analysis. They will review the case for extenuating circumstances that mitigate the effect of the unlawful act on the applicant’s moral character.
For more information, please contact our office for a free telephone consultation (15 minute) at 248-557-3645.
Associate Attorney, Immigration Law Department
The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz, PLLC