Many people around the world dream of becoming American citizens. If you have a current green card, you are likely one of them.
Should you want to become a naturalized citizen, a criminal arrest or evidence of a misdemeanor could derail your ambition. The good news is that most unlawful acts will not permanently prevent you from living here.
Crimes that can temporarily bar applicants from becoming citizens
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services decides whether those seeking residency meet or exceed their expectations. They consider many matters when judging individuals who want to become Americans.
The USCIS will flag anyone with a history of spending 180 days or longer behind bars. Even admitting to a crime such as fraud may also spell trouble. Hiring a prostitute or confirming participation in the drug trade might further impede your application.
Violations that can temporarily bar applicants from becoming citizens
Similarly, civil infractions may complicate your citizenship request. These concerns receive consideration on a case-by-case basis. Examples include forgery, insurance fraud, harassment and voting illegally. Government representatives consider these acts as signs of poor moral character and take them seriously.
In judging your integrity, members of the USCIS will review the circumstances surrounding the incident. Evidence of intoxication or someone receiving injury could work against you. On the other hand, cooperation with law enforcement may spur them to dismiss the event.
When your record contains a legal violation, waiting before applying for citizenship may be advisable. Since timing is everything, carefully consider when to move forward.