Good Moral Character: Requirements for Citizenship

Good Moral Character: Requirements for Citizenship


Hi. My name is Elizabeth Blandon. I’m here from Blandon Law to explain a very
important part of the naturalization process. Naturalization is the way that a person becomes a citizen of the United States, and there are several things that are necessary to become
a citizen, but one of the most important ones is good moral character. And I hope to explain what that means. Importantly – it’s important to remember that you don’t have to have good
moral character all your life. People understand that mistakes are made, so immigration is not
going to penalize you, necessarily, for prior mistakes. What we’re looking for is whether
a person has good moral character for what is known as the statutory period. Remember as the prime numbers. That’s how I like to think about it. In other words, a person who is in the military and who is applying for citizenship has to have good moral character for one year prior to application all the way up until the day of the ceremony that
they become a citizen. For a spouse of a US citizen, that period is three years prior to
applying for citizenship all the way up until the day of the oath ceremony, which is the day they become a citizen. And for everyone else, it’s usually five years. So, another important thing about good moral character – what we’re looking for – is to know that it’s not just convictions. So, when an applicant is asked – you know – well, is it important that I was arrested even if it was – I was not charged or the – or you know – the arrest was expunged, or any kind of idea that you can think of. Yes, it does matter. So, we’re looking for convictions, arrests, expunged, “null pros” – all that stuff. In fact, when you’re going to
be applying for your naturalization application, they’re going to want copies – certified copies – of all arrests or incident reports and all certified copies of all court dispositions. Okay? And I’ll expand a little bit further why. It just – for you to know – and by the way, not only is it arrests, it’s also if you admit something at the immigration
interview. So, if they ask you, “Have you ever committed an offense for which you were not arrested?” And you say, “Yes, last night I smoked marijuana.” Guess what? You just admitted to a controlled substance offense, and that will affect your naturalization application. Number three, let me explain the major categories. This is what – these are the major categories as to why a person may not be getting citizenship through the naturalization process. The major categories are what are known as – Crimes involving Moral Turpitude is the most common one
that we come across. So, the first question will be, “Do you admit or were you arrested for, convicted [blah, blah, blah] of a crime?” And then we have to find out if that crime is a crime
of moral turpitude. Any offense that the sentence for it is less than six months doesn’t count. So, let’s start with that right now. The smallest thing – it’s called a petty offense –
less than six months of jail time, even if you didn’t serve it, even if the sentence was suspended, but that’s what you receive – doesn’t count. On the opposite side of that spectrum are the massive – what I call the massive crimes – we’re talking murder, rape, certain things that are known in immigration as aggravated felonies. There are over 20 of these, and they are actually in the law. If you have an aggravated felony, you will never become a citizen. Anyone who’s ever been convicted of murder will never become a citizen. So those are permanent bars. In between are a whole host of crimes that immigration is going to be looking for, in the general
sense, is moral turpitude. That’s a very strange way of saying deceit or an intent to somehow have – in other words, it’s something other than recklessness. It’s something a little bit farther beyond that. So, there’s a whole host of crimes and if a person has been arrested or admitted
any kind of crime or offense that involves fraud or deceit, then it would be very important to go see an immigration attorney because that attorney will then have to research whether that offense – whether you’re going to have to wait until after the statutory period or
not to apply for citizenship. In most cases, the answer will be yes, but only an attorney can tell you for certain by doing the research. Another general category of offense that might make you not eligible for naturalization is what is known as false false testimony –
on immigration forms, specifically. So, as I mentioned, generally, being reckless is not a reason. If you are – if you recklessly committed a crime, that’s generally not a reason for you not
to become a citizen. With the exception being immigration forms. If you recklessly allowed a notary to put incorrect information on a form, and you recklessly sign that form, you cannot become a citizen because you gave false testimony to the immigration authorities. So, it’s very important to know. Be very honest with your immigration attorney who is doing your citizenship about all prior forms that you signed. And last – important to know – there’s always that all-encompassing discretionary category. So, this is every reason why an immigration officer might deny citizenship, not necessarily for an offense or not necessarily for a crime, but for things that might result in a denial. And again, keep in mind that all of these things have to have happened during the statutory period – the 1, the 3, the 5. Let me give you some examples of discretionary. DUI. Driving under the influence. So, one DUI is probably not going to get to your naturalization denied, but it will get your naturalization denied if it
seems like it’s a pattern of alcoholism. If it was one DUI during the statutory period,
and then you have four DUIs in the past, outside the statutory period. Another discretionary thing that’s a real problem sometimes: failure to provide child support. Okay, even
if you are currently in – you know – currently you’re providing child support. If there was ever a period where you were in arrears, that is considered a period during which you were not in good moral character. And another discretionary offense that is not seen very – it’s not seen very often, but it is important, is one that they call “adultery tending to end a marriage.” So, if the applicant was in a relationship with someone who was married, and the immigration officer figures out by the dates that the other person ended the marriage, terminated the marriage, obtained the divorce or an annulment after starting the marriage with the applicant, that might also be a reason to deny. Again, it’s very important to keep in mind that all
of these offences – what they’re looking at is to see if they occurred during the statutory period. What I call: The 1, The 3, The 5 – which means, basically, one year if you’re
in the military, three years if you’re married to a US citizen spouse, or five years for
everyone else. Okay, and again, it doesn’t matter whether the offense – you were convicted for it, or you admitted it, or what’s called “nolle pros” “Null pros” means basically that, even though the offense was committed, the prosecutor decided not to bring charges. That the offense was not basically worth their time and money and expense, so they’ll just decide: no, we’re not going to go forward with these charges. I hope this information has been of value to you. Here at Blandon Law, we are always looking to inform and protect in an effort to open the doors to your success.

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    Jermalfelder Felder

    Good moral character consist of three things this combination is the true defining line how much do you lie,cheat, and steal because these r characteristics of the devil,,r u honest,do u take or steal,,do you take advantage of the nieve and consider it justifiable due to their ignorance???

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    Blandon Law

    We look forward to providing services that are of high value. If these services are not worth a significant investment, there is no point to our starting a relationship.

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    E-man Angel

    How about if I didn't put all of my arrest records on my n400.? But I got proof that both of my arrests was dismissed in court and I'm thinking about to say yes I was arrested.

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    Zonga Mutu

    What will be happening if after 5 years you had a GMC then you appliing after 4month you made a mistake (criminal record) ???

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    Cheesey McCheese

    What I wanna know is, will they find out I have a medical cannabis card?? I know they run background checks and I understand it's mostly for criminal records but will they be able to know that I obtained a cannabis card?

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    Gus Gonzalez

    I have a misdemeanor. Criminal turnpitide adjudication withheld… Declaring taxes married filling separate.

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    L Ariza

    Your video help help me a lot when I apply for my citizenship. Thank you so very much. I am already an American Citizen. God Bless you.

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    Peter Tran

    Only person that actually explains the way it is. I thought this video was bs but honestly this lady made me feel very comfortable with my status.

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    kabir khan

    how r you mem my question you I am Muslim minority but my government not support I am free but not job provide my government and ignore and not success and I immigrate usa this is any act please information me I am work usa

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