Law & Legal & Attorney Immigration Law

How Does Having a Criminal Conviction Effect Applying for US Citizenship?

Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a country. A citizen is said to be the legal member of the country. The United States citizenship offers numerous benefits, including the ability to sponsor relatives and family members so they can immigrate to the United States. The U.S. citizens can live and work permanently in the United States, and they will not be deported or denied entry into the United States. They get a U.S. passport which is advantageous when traveling abroad.

One way of obtaining citizenship is through Naturalization. The manner in which a person who was not born in the United States becomes a U.S. Citizen is called Naturalization. There are many requirements to be met in order to obtain citizenship. The applicants must have resided continuously in United States for at least five years after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence and during this period, the applicant must have been a person of good moral character. Applicants must show good moral character and present evidence of good character, to counteract any evidence of bad character.

Form N-400, applying for US Citizenship

The form N-400 must be used by lawful permanent residents to apply for Naturalization. In the application for Naturalization there is a question concerning information on the applicant's character. People with good moral character are only approved for citizenship in the United States. This section is concerned on the criminal behavior, including felonies, convictions and sentencing of the applicant. The applicant must answer yes to the question even if the record of the crime was cleared, sealed or dismissed by a judge or law enforcement officer.

If any applicant has a criminal conviction based on committing a felony he/she may be permanently barred from returning to the United States, regardless of the fact that the non-citizen has U.S. citizen family members, including a spouse and children. If the applicant has a criminal background for committing crimes of moral turpitude such as murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, aggravated forms of assault, forgery, prostitution and shoplifting, he/she may be barred from applying for US citizenship.

When a person files a US citizenship application, he/she must reveal about any crime that has been committed. If the government finds out that the applicant hid the details on his/her criminal conviction on the US Citizenship application and the applicant is granted citizenship, then the citizenship may later be revoked. Certain crimes may only keep the applicant from naturalizing if the crime was committed within five years of the US Citizenship application.

If the applicant has many different criminal convictions he/she may be barred from becoming a citizen. The applicant with criminal convictions might be deported from United States. Also if the applicant admits on US Citizenship application that he/she has committed a crime, the citizenship application can be denied even if the applicant was never convicted or even charged with the crime.

Hence it is the duty of the applicant to maintain a good moral character before and after applying for citizenship.

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