One of the general requirements for naturalization is good moral character (GMC). As any Miami immigration lawyer will tell you, GMC means character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.

​In general, an applicant must show that he or she has been and continues to be a person of GMC during the statutory period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance.​ Below are some frequently asked questions.

How does the USCIS determine whether I have met the GMC requirement?

While USCIS determines whether an applicant has met the GMC requirement on a case-by-case basis, certain types of criminal conduct automatically preclude applicants from establishing GMC and may make the applicant subject to removal proceedings.​ An applicant may also be found to lack GMC for other types of criminal conduct (or unlawful acts).​ If you

What kind of information does the USCIS look at to determine whether the GMC requirement has been met?

An officer’s assessment of whether an applicant meets the GMC requirement may include the review of the following:

  • The applicant’s record
  • Statements provided in the naturalization application; and​
  • Oral testimony provided during the interview. ​

There may be cases that are affected by specific jurisdictional case law. The officer should rely on local USCIS counsel in cases where there is a question about whether a particular offense rises to the level of precluding an applicant from establishing GMC. In addition, the offenses and conduct which affect the GMC determination may also render an applicant removable.​ If you have any questions in regard to the above, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer for information.

What are some permanent bars to GMC?

  • Murder​ – An applicant who has been convicted of murder at any time is permanently barred from establishing GMC for naturalization.​
  • Aggravated Felony​ – ​An applicant who has been convicted of an “aggravated ​felony” ​on or after November 29, 1990, is permanently ​barred from establishing GMC for naturalization.​ While an applicant who has been convicted of an aggravated felony prior to November 29, 1990, is not permanently barred from naturalization, the officer should consider the seriousness of the underlying offense (aggravated felony) along with the applicant’s present moral character in determining whether the applicant meets the GMC requirement.
  •  Persecution, Genocide, Torture, or Severe Violations of Religious Freedom​ – ​The applicant is responsible for providing any evidence or documentation to support a claim that he or she is not ineligible for naturalization based on involvement in any of the activities addressed in this section.

If you need more information regarding permanent bars to naturalization, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

What is a “conditional bar” to naturalization?

In addition to the permanent bars to GMC, the ​INA​ and corresponding regulations include bars to GMC that are not permanent in nature. USCIS refers to these bars as “conditional bars.” ​These bars are triggered by specific acts​,​ offenses​, ​activities, circumstances, or convictions within the statutory period for naturalization, including the period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance.​ ​An offense that does not fall within a permanent or conditional bar to GMC may nonetheless affect an applicant’s ability to ​establish GMC.​

​With regard to bars to GMC requiring a conviction, the officer reviews the relevant federal or state law or regulation of the United States, or law or regulation of any foreign country​ ​to determine whether the applicant can establish GMC.​

​If you would like more information on what constitutes a “conditional bar” to naturalization, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer for more information.

If you would like more information on the revised Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at

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