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Naturalization applicants must have good moral character

Posted by Saul Steinberg | Dec 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

Many people come to New Jersey and other parts of the United States in hopes of finding new opportunities. If you left your native land to come to this country, it was undoubtedly a major decision for you. After all, you likely had to leave behind loved ones and everything you knew in your homeland.

Still, you came to see the United States as your home, and now, you want to become a naturalized citizen. You likely already know that this process can be long and difficult, so it is wise to know as much as possible about the proceedings so you can better prepare. One area you may need to gain more information on relates to good moral character.

What is good moral character?

A requirement for becoming a naturalized citizen is that an applicant demonstrates good moral character. However, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services indicate that immigration officers should assess good moral character on a case-by-case basis. As a result, some discrepancies could exist. Though good moral character is generally having beliefs and values that will benefit society, the USCIS lists some activities that could involve a person not having good moral character, such as:

  • Violating any federal, state or local laws regarding drug possession and use
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Incarceration for 180 days or more
  • Engaging in or attempting to engage in prostitution
  • Earning a living from illegal gambling
  • Being a drunkard
  • Bank fraud
  • Bail jumping
  • Failure to pay taxes
  • Unlawfully registering to vote
  • Sexual assault

However, it is also possible for a USCIS officer to consider a person to lack good moral character for failing to pay child support, committing adultery, or having two or more convictions for driving under the influence. As a result, the good moral character requirement could be subjective.

Preparing for the process

If you have concerns about the requirement for good moral character, you may want to discuss this specific topic with an experienced immigration law attorney. You can go over your personal history and determine whether any events stand out as potential issues for meeting this requirement. You can also learn more about the naturalization process as a whole and determine what you need to do to prepare.

Though it can be a long and difficult journey, it will undoubtedly be worth it if you reach your end goal.

About the Author

Saul Steinberg

Saul J. Steinberg was born and raised in Camden, NJ. He has practiced in Camden County since first being admitted to the bar. Since 1990, he has also handled cases in Southeastern Pennsylvania.The emphasis of Saul's practice is in Criminal and Civil litigation. He has handled major criminal and c...


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