Good moral character, which is known as “GMC” for short, is a requirement for becoming naturalized as a U.S. Citizen. Similar to its normal meaning, having GMC means that an applicant for citizenship has a level of character which is comparative to the average citizens of the community in which the applicant is residing.
How is Good Moral Character Proven?
An applicant for naturalization must demonstrate good moral character by showing that they do not have any prior criminal history, specifically, within the five years leading into their naturalization. This is not to say that any other criminal history which is outside of the five-year period is not considered. It simply depends on the nature of the offense. Certain criminal offenses can preclude an applicant from establishing that they have good moral character and could even subject an applicant to removal proceedings.
What is Considered?
As taken from the USCIS Policy Manual, an officer’s assessment of whether an applicant meets the good moral character requirement includes a review of: (1) the applicant’s record, (2) statements which were provided in the naturalization applicant, and (3) any oral testimony provided by the applicant during their interview with an immigration officer.
Aggravated Felonies and Crimes of Moral Turpitude
A conviction for an aggravated felony is almost always a bar to an applicant who is interested in applying for naturalization and may also serve as a bar to many other forms of immigration relief. An aggravated felony, for the purposes of immigration law, does not have the same definition as it does in criminal law. An aggravated felony can be any crime which Congress has labelled as such.
An applicant who has been convicted of a non-aggravated felony may still have a chance to demonstrate good moral character. It is important to consult an immigration attorney, who would be able make an assessment based on the applicant’s criminalhistory and to see if any of the prior convictions are considered to be a crime of moral turpitude under state law.
If you are thinking about taking steps to become a U.S. Citizen, consider setting up a consultation with an immigration lawyer, who will be able to assess your case and assist you with the steps which you need to take.
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