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USCIS Expands Guidance Related to Naturalization Requirement of Good Moral Character

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expanded its policy guidance (PDF, 290 KB) regarding unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character (GMC) requirement for naturalization. The commission of, or conviction or imprisonment for, an unlawful act, during the statutory period for naturalization, may render an applicant ineligible for naturalization should the act be found to adversely reflect on moral character.

Previously, the USCIS Policy Manual did not include extensive information on unlawful acts. This update to the Policy Manual provides additional examples of unlawful acts and instructions to ensure USCIS adjudicators make uniform and fair determinations, and further identifies unlawful acts that may affect GMC based on judicial precedent. This update does not change the impact of an unlawful act on USCIS’ analysis of whether an applicant can demonstrate GMC. Adjudicators in the field receive extensive training to apply the law on GMC and unlawful acts regulation. They are aware of which unlawful acts could bar an applicant from naturalization and are not limited by the examples listed in the Policy Manual.

On Dec. 10, USCIS issued separate policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual about how two or more convictions for driving under the influence or post-sentencing changes to criminal sentencing might affect GMC determinations.

“In the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress determined that good moral character is a requirement for naturalization,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “USCIS is committed to faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, and this update helps to ensure that our agency’s adjudicators make uniform and fair decisions concerning the consideration of unlawful acts on good moral character when determining eligibility for U.S. citizenship.”