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Crimes That Will Affect Your Citizenship

The United States government uses the good moral character naturalization provision in order to decide whether or not to disqualify a green card holder from becoming a US citizen. If you have a police record, this provision is important during your naturalization process. It is still possible to prove to a USCIS immigration interviewer that you have a good moral character and obtain citizenship. Also, green card holders must be careful when they are charged with crimes involving moral turpitude.

The degree to which your police record may affect your chances of citizenship depends entirely on the nature of the crime itself. Usually, crimes involving moral turpitude will reflect very poorly on your character. 

These crimes include:

  • Aggravated assault 

  • Animal fighting

  • Child abuse

  • Acting as an accessory to a CMT offense

  • In some cases, involuntary manslaughter

  • Kidnapping

  • Mayhem

  • Murder

  • Rape

  • Robbery

  • Spousal abuse

  • Theft

  • Manslaughter

  • Tax fraud

While these crimes have been deemed to be crimes involving moral turpitude in numerous instances. They are reviewed on a case by case basis, and there is still a possibility to attain citizenship with these crimes on your record. For a crime to be considered a crime involving moral turpitude, there needs to be malicious intent involved in the crime—meaning that the offense was committed out of evil, hatred, or some intent to harm another person or entity.

Crimes that are less likely to reflect poorly on moral character (if not within a certain time frame) include:

  • Lying to get an immigration benefit

  • Being married to more than one person at the same time

  • Two or more gambling crimes

  • Failing to provide child support

  • Having an extramarital affair (cheating on a spouse)

  • Domestic abuse (not involving a spouse)

It is also good to know that there is a petty theft exception within the crimes involving moral turpitude, which can seriously help to mitigate the negative effect your CIMT may have on your chances of citizenship. In order to take advantage of the petty offense exception, one must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. The petty offense (in this case, the petty theft) must be the only CIMT you have ever committed;

  2. You were sentenced for 6 months or less for the petty theft conviction; and

  3. The maximum possible sentence for the offense was no more than a year.

If you know anyone currently undergoing the naturalization process, it is highly advised that he or she seeks legal counsel—if they have not already done so. The consular officers will be asking many difficult and complex questions pertaining to one's moral character.

Finding the right legal counsel will help prepare an applicant for a difficult interview. With the right case and clear answers to these GMC questions, applicants can rest assured that they are creating a compelling case.

It is advisable to seek legal guidance from our office today as we strive to guide you with your specific case. 

Attorney Ramona Kennedy cares about your case and will fight for you.

You can contact attorney Ramona Kennedy Law Offices (Kennedy Law LC) for an initial consultation and case evaluation. The first consultation is free of charge. 

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