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Defining potential barriers to citizenship

| Dec 23, 2020 | naturalization & citizenship

If you have the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen, then you likely know the many complexities inherent with the naturalization process. The last thing you want to have to worry about is how your actions in Texas may impact the potential of reaching your goal. A criminal conviction in particular may call that all into question.

Many facing such a dilemma come to us here at the Law Office of Jae Lee wondering whether having a criminal conviction on their records bars them from securing citizenship. If you share the same question, then understanding exactly which actions disqualify you from gaining citizenship may help you avoid any unnecessary stress and grief.

What actions bar one from becoming a citizen?

Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are certain types of crime that may permanently bar you from becoming a citizen. These include murder, offenses that amount to aggravated felonies, or incidents of severe violations of religious freedoms (such as persecuting and/or torturing one due to their beliefs, or participating in acts of genocide).

Other criminal offenses may erect barriers to your eventual citizenship, but only on a conditional basis. These include:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude (defined broadly as actions that shock the public conscious)
  • Controlled substance violations
  • Prostitution
  • Providing false testimony
  • Polygamy
  • Multiple convictions for driving under the influence

Multiple offenses resulting in a collective sentence of more than five years in person may also be a conditional bar to gaining citizenship.

The requirement of good moral character

Officials view any of the aforementioned actions as contradictions to you having good moral character (which is a condition of citizenship). However, the totality of your actions during the naturalization process can offset any potential bars to citizenship you may face. You can find more information on gaining citizenship throughout our site.