How Does Immigration Define Good Moral Character?

When you apply for U.S. citizenship, there are several requirements that you need to meet, one of which is ‘good moral character.’

Of all the citizenship criteria, this one raises the most questions. In general, applicants have to demonstrate good moral character for five years prior to taking the Oath of Allegiance, but how is it defined, especially with regard to your immigration case? In this blog, we’ll review how United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) commonly interprets this requirement and how an experienced New Jersey immigration attorney can help.

Good Moral Character Explained

USCIS defines a good moral character as one that meets the standards of most people in the community where you reside. It’s a vague description that has generally been seen as meaning that you don’t have a criminal record and have not indulged in behaviors deemed highly anti-social or unsavory.

In December 2019, USCIS attempted to clarify things by presenting examples of conduct that showed lack of good moral character. They include:

  • Bank fraud
  • Failure to file or pay taxes
  • Falsifying records
  • Insurance fraud
  • Sexual assault
  • Social Security fraud

Despite these guidelines, USCIS officers continue to make moral character determinations on a case-by-case basis. With some crimes, like murder or aggravated felonies like armed robbery or drug trafficking, the petition will almost certainly rejected. With others, the officers often take any extenuating circumstances into account, provided they pertain to the unlawful act and happened before or at the same time.

For this reason, you should work with an immigration attorney when you apply for U.S. citizenship, especially if you have a record that could raise good moral character issues. When you come to the interview prepared to explain any past conduct that could impact your petition, you have the best chance of a favorable outcome.

Contact a New Jersey Immigration Lawyer

The immigration consequences of past mistakes can be harsh and sometimes illogical. Bar fights, speeding, and other ill-advised actions that Americans commit every day have the potential to prevent your citizenship application or even see you deported. 

At Csepes Law, our goal is to help you prevent these errors in judgment from denying you a future in the United States. We have a successful history of helping clients address and overcome good moral character questions during the citizenship application process, and will  present your case in the best possible light. To schedule a consultation with Attorney Kiomeiry Csépes, please contact us today.

The following two tabs change content below.

Csépes Law Offices

Csépes Law Offices Provides Individualized Legal Solutions To Those Needing Family Law, Immigration, Or Real Estate Counsel.

Latest posts by Csépes Law Offices (see all)