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USCIS Makes Changes to Definition of "Good Moral Character"

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USCIS Makes Changes to Definition of "Good Moral Character"

On December 13, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy update expanding its previous guidance regarding unlawful acts that negatively impact “good moral character” in naturalization applications. The policy may prevent an applicant from proving what USCIS defines as good moral character for naturalization.

The policy expands existing guidance on the “unlawful acts,” located in the federal regulations, that automatically bar an applicant from being eligible for naturalization, including adding additional examples of unlawful acts. Specifically, the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”), Section 316.10(b)(3)(iii) discusses “unlawful acts that adversely reflect upon the applicant’s good moral character.”

The policy states that USCIS officers determine whether an “unlawful act” is a conditional bar on a case-by-case basis and provides guidance on that case-by-case analysis. The policy is effective December 13, 2019.

The new policy on good moral character asks USCIS officers to look into several documents that demonstrate that an applicant for naturalization committed an “unlawful act.” USCIS’s new policy gives officers authority to look at prior court fines, civil court cases, and tax discrepancies.

Just three days prior, on December 10, 2019, USCIS announced policy guidance that put two decisions from the Attorney General into effect on how post-sentencing changes to criminal court cases should be analyzed for immigration cases. The policy also states that two or more DUI convictions will impact good moral character determinations for naturalization purposes.

These policy updates are applicable to any cases filed or pending on or after October 25, 2019, the date the Attorney General’s decisions came out.

Are you or a loved one considering filing for U.S. citizenship and curious about how these new policies will impact your case? Do you already have a case pending and believe you may fall within one of these categories? Call Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, to schedule your consultation today.

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