USCIS Broadens Guidelines for Naturalization Requirement | Chicago Immigration Attorney
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USCIS Broadens Guidelines for Naturalization Requirement

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There are many reasons why people from other countries wish to live in the United States. It could be to join extended family members who reside here or to obtain better education or employment. The legal steps for becoming a U.S. citizen can seem daunting at first. However, the government offers guidance on the proper procedures depending on the situation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for managing the legal immigration to our country. The USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Recently, the USCIS announced it expanded the guidelines related to the naturalization requirement of “good moral character (GMC).” It is important to understand how GMC is defined and how this news can affect the immigration process.

How Is “Good Moral Character” Defined?

Good moral character is typically defined as an ideal state of a person’s beliefs and values that benefit society. According to U.S. law, GMC can be assessed through the requirement of virtuous acts or by evaluating negative conduct. In legal judgments, GMC can include several different characteristics, such as the below:

  • Honesty/integrity/trustworthiness
  • Respect for the law and other’s rights
  • Mental and emotional stability
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Absence of a criminal record
  • Honoring/upholding the U.S.Constitution

What Are “Unlawful Acts”?

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a person applying for naturalization must establish GMC. The updates to the policy guidelines include additional examples of “unlawful acts” that could possibly prevent an immigrant from meeting the GMC requirement for naturalization. This expansion to the policy ensures USCIS adjudicators will make fair and uniform decisions across the board when reviewing applications.

During the statutory period for naturalization, if an applicant commits an unlawful act, he or she may become ineligible for naturalization. A few examples of unlawful acts can include the following:

  • Bail jumping
  • Bank fraud
  • Conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs
  • Failure to file or pay taxes
  • False claim to U.S. citizenship
  • Forgery/falsifying documents
  • Social Security fraud
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Sexual assault
  • Illegal voting

Applicants must prove that they are and will continue to maintain GMC during the statutory period for naturalization until they take the Oath of Allegiance. Each applicant is unique, so USCIS officers will execute a case-by-case analysis to determine if an act is unlawful and if there are any extenuating circumstances.

Contact an Illinois Immigration Attorney

The U.S. immigration and naturalization process can be time-consuming and intimidating. If you or your loved one is filing the paperwork to enter the United States, it is essential that you speak with a knowledgeable Illinois immigration attorney to understand the necessary legal steps for achieving this dream. At Mevorah Law Offices, P.C., we have a thorough understanding of the laws relating to naturalization, visas, citizenship, and deportation. Call us today at 630-932-9100 to schedule your free consultation.


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