Can You File for U.S. Citizenship if You Have a Criminal Record?

The U.S immigration service department does not bar people with a criminal record from filing for citizenship. You can still file for citizenship with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a criminal record. The (USCIS) will scrutinize the nature of the crime you committed and decide whether to grant you citizenship or not. If you are residing in Pasadena and applying for citizenship with a previous criminal record, then it is wise to consult with a Pasadena criminal and immigration lawyer.

Once you file your application, the USCIS will examine the crime you committed and compare this with your good moral character. Certain offenses can be ignored if you have been a good resident. However, serious crimes can limit your chances of being granted citizenship.

How to File for Citizenship

When filing for citizenship in the US, you need to fill out the Form N-400. The form has several questions including whether you have been detained, cited or arrested for a criminal offense. This is one of the questions used to determine your moral character. The USCIS mainly focuses on your criminal history for the past five years. However, they will also look into your entire criminal history over the years. While it will depend on the crime, it is advisable to wait for five years after committing a crime before you file for citizenship. A criminal immigration attorney Pasadena will examine the merits of your case and advice on the best time to file for citizenship.

What Constitutes Good Moral Character

The (USCIS) uses specific parameters to determine if the applicant has good moral character. These factors will be determined by any crimes committed, other information filled out in the form and the interview testimony. Having a criminal record may complicate the process, but this should not bar you from applying for citizenship. It is advisable to consult with a Pasadena criminal immigration attorney before you file for citizenship. Their experience will be useful is not only determining whether it is the right time to file, but they will prepare you adequately for the interview testimony.

Full Disclosure

When filling in the form, you should disclose all criminal offenses and previous convictions. This is regardless of whether you were acquitted or the case was dismissed. The failure to make a full disclosure can lead to automatic dismissal. Lying on the N-400 form is ill-advised. Lying or misleading the (USCIS) can lead to a rejection, and this affects your chances of applying for citizenship in the future.

The (USCIS) carries out its own investigations through the criminal databases. The immigration department also works closely with immigration departments in other countries. This means that you should also disclose crimes that you committed in a different country.

It is essential to reiterate that a citation, detainment, or arrest does not hinder you from applying for citizenship. The (USCIS) will review each case based on its merits. However, some crimes may bar you from being granted citizenship. Other offenses may taint your image and your moral character. USCIS's primary objective is to determine whether you intend to be a good citizen. While your past is used to determine this, it does not disqualify you from being granted citizenship. Disqualification only applies to serious crimes.
It is imperative that you consult with a Pasadena immigration attorney throughout the process. They will guide you and advise you on the best course of action depending on your criminal history.

Crimes With a Permanent Bar

Certain crimes may permanently bar you from being granted citizenship. Consulting early with a Pasadena criminal and immigration lawyer will give you more insight into this. The following list of these crimes is not comprehensive, as it only highlights the common ones.
• Rape
• Murder
• Sexual abuse involving a minor
• Money laundering
• Illegal trafficking of drugs
• Firearm crimes
• Bribery, forgery, and counterfeiting
• Entering into the U.S illegally
• Trafficking, transportation, and managing prostitutes
• Vehicle trafficking
• Obstruction of justice These cases can be misdemeanors or felonies. You can still file for citizenship under the guidance of a criminal immigration attorney Pasadena. Overall, the final decision lies with the presiding officer assigned to your case.

Crimes That Will Temporarily Bar You

The following crimes may temporarily bar you from applying for citizenship.
• Incarceration
• Conviction of more than one offense
• Crimes that touch on moral turpitude
• Violation of lesser controlled substances
• Adultery
• Giving false testimony
• Failure to offer child support These crimes can also lead to a permanent bar from applying for citizenship. It all depends on how you present your case before the presiding officer. A Pasadena criminal immigration attorney will come in handy in such cases. If you have faced a criminal charge in the past, seek the counsel of Pasadena immigration attorney. These attorneys have extensive experience in such cases, and this can improve your chances of getting citizenship in the U.S.

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