Issues to Consider Before Filing for US Citizenship
Our office in Edison, New Jersey, concentrates its immigration practice heavily in the area of US Citizenship. Most immigrants, of course, normally aspire to become citizens of our great country. However, for some individuals, the process of applying should not be taken lightly. Many circumstances, in fact, may render the actual act of applying perilous. Some of the more common issues that complicate an application for citizenship include criminal arrests and/or convictions; unlawful voting; issues of fraud; as well as failure to register for the selective service. Many individuals have unknowingly exposed themselves to removal proceedings by hastily applying for naturalization without first ascertaining the risks and consequences. Even if certain arrests or convictions may not render someone deportable, careful deliberation should nevertheless be considered as to when and/or if to apply. To further complicate matters, different district offices in different states sometimes have different policies as to how certain situations are handled.
Furthermore, one of the major requirements one must satisfy to become a United States citizen is that he or she has been a person of “good moral character” during the five years up to and preceding the application (three years if applying under INA Section 319). Any arrests, even for traffic violations such as Driving While Intoxicated, during this statutory period could potentially reflect on an applicant’s good moral character in a negative manner. Our office has personally come across many people who have come to us for help because their applications have been denied due to DWI convictions. A lack of good moral character is not restricted to arrests or convictions. Additional discretionary grounds include adultery as well as non-support of dependents. Additionally, USCIS officers do have the discretion to look beyond the five or three year period pursuant to INA Section 316(e).
If you would like to apply for citizenship but have criminal issues or any type of circumstances that could potentially implicate your moral character, consider consulting with our office in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Our immigration practice places a heavy emphasis on naturalization matters and personally sits in with our clients during their interviews at both the Newark District Office as well as the Mount Laurel Office as part of our representation.