In order for immigrants to apply for citizenship, applicants must, among other qualifications, proof of GMC (Good Moral Character). Immigration is assessing whether the lawful permanent resident has good character and follows state and federal laws in order to qualify for naturalization. To be a person of good moral character means that the individual will maintain and have maintained expectations of a law-abiding citizen in society and their respective community.

For a prospective applicant to provide evidence of good moral character, the applicant must provide proof of good behavior five years prior to filing their naturalization application. The time prior to these five years may also factor into the judgment of an applicant’s conduct depending on the extremity of the case. Another crucial part of this process to consider is that the timeframe to establish good moral character remains until the oath ceremony for complete eligibility of naturalization.

Certain immigration benefits require proof that an alien has good moral character before said benefits are available. Under U.S. immigration law, there are consequences for criminal convictions and sentences that could, unfortunately, render certain naturalization applicants inadmissible, deportable, or ineligible for certain immigration benefits. A recent trend under the Trump administration is to refer more denied citizenship applications to immigration court for deportation proceedings. Thus, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney in Austin before applying.

USCIS officers continue to work through applications for citizenship on a case-by-case analysis to determine whether an act is unlawful and adversely reflects on an applicant’s good moral character, as well as determine if there are extenuating circumstances or not. While an individual’s history may not be perfect, everything in their application will be closely reviewed and taken into consideration as a matter of discretion.

Examples of unlawful acts recognized by case law as barring GMC include, but are not limited to, bail jumping, fraud, sexual assault, unlawful voting, being convicted of a felony, failure to pay taxes, violations of the controlled substance laws, DUI’s, false testimonies on one’s behalf, and many more. If you have any questions regarding this issue, please consult with Austin immigration lawyer.

Applying for citizenship can sometimes be confusing or challenging. It’s important to stay up to date on policy changes, new laws being passed, and everything needed or asked of you when applying. It’s also important to pay attention to fee changes. On October 2, 2020, for example, the filing fees for citizenship applications will increase substantially. To learn more, see below.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with an Austin Immigration Attorney

If you are interested in applying for citizenship or affected by any immigration issue, please contact an experienced Austin immigration lawyer to assist you in your case. As discussed, immigration policies change daily, hence the need for qualified assistance from immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray. Please call Michael G. Murray, P.A., today at (512) 215-4407 or contact the firm online.

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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