Naturalization and immigration issues are complicated and different rules and processes apply to different people. Becoming a United States citizen is a dream for almost every person present in this country who is not already a United States citizen. For many immigrants, naturalization becomes a reality and they go on to enjoy the benefits of US citizenship. For others, however, naturalization is a struggle, due to an inability to pass the English and Civics test. For some, it is an impossibility, due to certain criminal convictions. Whatever the case may be, gaining United States citizenship is a privilege that most foreigners want. Indeed, it is a privilege.

An applicant is required to demonstrate good moral character during the statutory period immediately before filing of the application for the citizenship. However, in many instances, an applicant may be unable to show good moral character, and thus will never be able to naturalize.

A. Permanent bars for naturalization

The following aliens are permanently barred from naturalization:

  • convicted of an aggravated felony, as defined in INA § 101(a)(43), on or after November 29, 1990;
  • convicted of murder at any time;
  • an alien who requested exemption from military service on account of alienage; and
  • an alien convicted by court martial of desertion during time of war.

B. Temporary bars for naturalization

The following aliens are temporarily barred from naturalization:

  • an alien who is on probation, parole, or has a suspended sentence during the statutory period will be denied naturalization (8 C.F.R. § 316.10(c));
  • an alien who is in removal or deportation proceedings is temporarily precluded from naturalization (INA §§ 328, 329)

C. Other bars

You also cannot show good moral character if during the 5-year (or 3-year) statutory period you:

  • have been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • have been convicted of two or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more;
  • have been convicted of any controlled substance violation, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana;
  • have been confined to a penal institution for an aggregate of 180 days or more as a result of a conviction;
  • have been convicted of two or more gambling offenses;
  • have earned your principal income from illegal gambling;
  • have been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice;
  • are involved, or have been involved, in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States;
  • are, or have been, a habitual drunkard;
  • are practicing, or have practiced, polygamy;
  • have willfully failed or refused to support dependents;
  • have given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act;
  • are an individual involved in subversive activities;
  • are, or have been, a member of the Communist Party;
  • are, or have been a deserter during war time, unless you received a pardon or general amnesty;
  • are an alien who has removal proceedings pending against you or are subject to an outstanding order of deportation or removal, unless you are eligible for citizenship due to military service;
  • have failed to register with the selective service; or
  • have any other criminal history.

If you should have an questions about Naturalization, please call one of our experienced immigration attorneys at Gopal & Pedigo, PC in Nashville, TN.