Becoming an American citizen is exciting. If you live in California for at least three months, are 18 years of age or older and meet the naturalization requirements, you may be eligible for citizenship. We often help clients prepare for becoming a naturalized American.
Residency is an important component of eligibility for U.S. citizenship, but it is not the only one. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you must also have good moral character.
What is good moral character?
If your conduct measures up to the standards of average citizens in the San Jose area, the USGIS may consider you of good moral character. It determines this by running a criminal background check. Behavior that illustrates a lack of good moral character includes the following:
- A crime against another person with intent to harm
- Violating a controlled substance law
- Acts of terrorism
- A crime against property of the U.S. Government that includes evil or fraudulent intent
- Persecution of a person because of their national origin, political opinion, race, religion or social group
- Illegal gambling
Crimes such as aggravated assault, kidnapping and murder may make you ineligible for citizenship.
How can you prove good moral character?
Honesty is a priority. Be as truthful as possible regarding your history with law enforcement. Traffic tickets and walking an unleashed dog are examples of common infractions that likely do not affect your eligibility.
Positive letters from religious leaders, coworkers and neighbors may help you prove your character. They indicate that you can contribute to the community. Understanding the requirements for becoming an American citizen can help overcome barriers to naturalization.