Find the right lawyer now

Good Moral Character Lawyers

Find a Local Immigration Lawyer near You

Good Moral Character

To become a naturalized citizen of the U.S., the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) mandates that you meet a number of qualifications. One of these requirements is that you to demonstrate good moral character.

What Is Good Moral Character?

There is no clear definition of good moral character for the purpose of an immigration proceeding. Good moral character has been interpreted to mean that your behavior meets the moral standard of the average citizen in your community. Therefore, customs and expectations relating to good moral character differ according to area.

What Are Examples of Poor Moral Character?

There are various factors that will affect a determination of your moral character. Some actions that may be considered include:

  • Refusing to pay court-ordered child support;
  • Failing to file or to pay income taxes;
  • Neglecting to register for Selective Service (if you are required to do so);
  • Lying to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to attain immigration benefits (such as becoming a permanent resident by marriage and then being immediately divorced);
  • Driving drunk or habitual drunkenness;
  • Engaging in illegal gambling as a means of earning primary income; and
  • Committing adultery.

What If I Lacked Good Moral Character in the Past?

An immigration officer has the authority to examine your entire life and to closely scrutinize the five years preceding your naturalization application. Past actions relating to your current behavior may be discussed, although they cannot be the basis for the denial of your application.

What If I Have Been Convicted of a Crime, but the Record Has Been Expunged?

All arrests, convictions, and crimes should be disclosed. Therefore, even an expunged record must be reported. Failure to inform an immigration officer of your involvement in any crime could lead to the denial of your application. Honestly is essential to the naturalization process.

What Can I Do If My Application Is Denied Based on My Moral Character?

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter explaining the reason(s) and containing information about appealing the decision. You may file an appeal and request a hearing with an immigration officer if you feel that you were unfairly denied naturalization. In some cases, you may also reapply.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

An immigration lawyer can help you to prepare for the naturalization process and to become familiar with the questions that may be asked regarding good moral character. Additionally, an attorney can work with you to complete your application or appeal.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 08-12-2015 10:51 AM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.