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Each year, thousands and thousands of lawful permanent residents choose to become citizens of the United States through the process known as "naturalization".  Gaining U.S. citizenship carries significant benefits, and in most cases is strongly recommended.  Therefore, it is important for lawful permanent residents to consider the benefits and legal requirements for naturalization.  Today's blog will address one of the important legal requirements for eligibility for naturalization - establishing "good moral character".

Federal law contains a specific requirement of good moral character for a person to be eligible for consideration as a U.S. citizen.  Specific legal provisions define the things USCIS may consider in evaluating the moral character, or lack thereof, of the applicant.


Commission of certain types of crimes, such as murder, aggravated assault or rape, for which the individual was convicted after November 29, 1990, creates a permanent ineligibily for naturalization.  Other criminal offenses create a temporary bar to eligibility (generally 5 years).  Criminal offenses committed by the individual may create ineligibility regardless of whether the consequence was not an actual conviction.  Common criminal court outcomes include probation, deferred adjudication, and pre-trial diversion.  Even though the criminal court outcome may not be an actual conviction, each of these outcomes may still create an ineligibility for naturalization.  

Not all crimes demonstrate a lack of good moral character.  Typically, the types of crimes that demonstrate lack of good moral character include crimes against a person with actual intent to harm, crimes against property involving fraud or bad intent, controlled substance violations, gambling, prostitution, polygamy, failure to pay court-ordered child support, terrorism and failing to comply with conditions of probation.


Lying during the naturalization interview will cause a denial of naturalization on the basis of lack of good moral character.


A past history of persecution against any person due to race, religion, national origin, political opinion or social group may demonstrate lack of good moral character. 

The complex process to become a United States citizen requires significant legal documentation and preparation, so it is important to have experienced advocates on your side.  Christiansen Law Firm specializes in assisting lawful permanent residents with the naturalization process.  The immigration attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm advise permanent residents on their eligibility for naturalization and specifically whether they can establish good moral character.  Let the immigration attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm assist you on your path to United States citizenship.

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