N-400 good moral character & loyalty to the U.S.

An applicant for naturalization bears the burden of demonstrating that, during the statutorily prescribed period, he or she has been and continues to be a person of good moral character.  (§ Sec. 316.10 Good moral character).

Good moral character is defined in the USCIS Policy Manual as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.”

A naturalization applicant must prove they are a person of good moral character (GMC) in the 5 years prior to applying — or 3 if applying through marriage.

How does USCIS determine if I have good moral character?

When reviewing your Form N-400 USCIS will make that determination. Examples of things that might demonstrate a lack of good moral character include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Any crime against a person with intent to harm
  • Any crime against property or the Government that involves “fraud” or evil intent
  • Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more
  • Violating any controlled substance law of the U.S., State, or foreign country
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Illegal gambling
  • Prostitution
  • Polygamy (marriage to more than one person at the same time)
  • Lying to gain immigration benefits
  • Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments
  • Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years (or 3 years if applying through marriage)
  • Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before applying for naturalization
  • Failing to register for the Selective Service when required to
  • Terrorist acts
  • Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group

When the USCIS conducts a background check, they are not only interested in crimes committed in the U.S., but in any country. Even if you have some instances of misconduct in your past, we can help you show that you have reformed and you may still be eligible for an immigration benefit such as cancellation of removal or withholding of removal.