Law Offices of Steven A. Culbreath, P.A. -- Immigration Lawyer, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA

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What is “Good Moral Character”?

USCIS, as part of its vetting process for applicants for U.S. citizenship by Naturalization, require that the applicant demonstrate being of “Good Moral Character” (“GMC”) for the statutory period preceding the application (including and up through swearing-in as a new citizen, post-interview!!!!).

USCIS, through its plethora of regulations, have never expressly defined GMC, it has fairly recently issued guidance by way of a sample list of prohibited acts, which would clearly demonstrate — in the eyes of USCIS — a LACK of GMC. These acts include:

  • bail jumping;
  • bank fraud;
  • conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance;
  • failure to file or pay taxes;
  • false claim to U.S. citizenship;
  • falsification of records;
  • forgery uttering;
  • insurance fraud;
  • obstruction of justice;
  • sexual assault;
  • Social Security fraud;
  • unlawful harassment;
  • unlawful registration to vote;
  • unlawful voting; and
  • violation of a U.S. embargo.

USCIS adjudicators will of course examine cases on a “case by case” basis, and there will be many grey-areas not specifically falling into the above-given list.

According to USCIS’ own published materials:

“USCIS officers must continue to perform a case-by-case analysis to determine whether an act is unlawful and adversely reflects on an applicant’s good moral character. They must also determine whether there are extenuating circumstances. An extenuating circumstance must pertain to the unlawful act and must precede or be contemporaneous with the commission of the unlawful act. Training for adjudicators will be updated to reflect this expanded guidance.”

If in doubt, ALWAYS consult with a qualified, experienced and licensed U.S. immigration lawyer, who frequently handles Naturalization applications, for further screening and advise, BEFORE a case is filed!

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