Becoming a U.S. citizen is a delicate process that can sometimes derail due to a mistake in your past. Yes, criminal charges and convictions can directly impact your US citizenship application.
How Do Charges or Convictions Affect My US Citizenship Application?
To become a US citizen, you must meet certain criteria, including being a permanent resident, being 18 years of age, speaking English and more. You’re also required to demonstrate good moral character in the years before you began the citizenship process. If not, you may be exempt from citizenship or may be at risk for citizenship delay.
What Does Good Moral Character Mean?
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, “an applicant for naturalization must show that he or she has been, and continues to be, a person of good moral character.” You must show good moral character for five years prior to your application.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses the following factors to assess your moral character:
- Family ties and background
- Absence or presence of criminal history
- Employment history
- Financial obligations
- Community involvement
- Compliance with probation
- Length of time in the United States
Criminal Charges & Convictions
Even a minor crime may impact your citizenship application, especially if your current lifestyle or activities don’t show the required moral character.
Some crimes will make you temporarily ineligible for citizenship, according to the law. These crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Conviction of two or more gambling crimes
- Participation in illegal prostitution
- Illegal drug-related crimes
- Incarceration for a period of 180 days or more
- False testimony under oath
Other crimes will leave you permanently ineligible for citizenship. These crimes include:
- Money laundering
- Violent crimes
- Aggravated felonies
If you have a criminal record of any kind, it’s critical that you speak with an immigration attorney prior to completing your citizenship application. Each situation is unique, full of details that require experienced legal counsel. Plus, each conviction or crime may be interpreted differently on both a state and federal level.
Reach Out to Mark E. Jacobs Today
Don’t attempt to go through the US citizenship process on your own, especially if you have any form of criminal record. Instead, call an experienced immigration attorney who can help you navigate the process from start to finish. To learn more about our services or for answers to your questions, give us a call at 972-445-7577 or send us a message.