Preparing to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen is a very exciting time. Yet, with the excitement can also come quite a bit of stress, especially for people with arrests on their record.
There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to become a citizen. Of these, according to a naturalization guide put out by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the requirement that a person be someone of "good moral character." This is where prior convictions can really come into play.
Certain convictions will automatically make it impossible to prove good moral character. These include convictions for murder or any other type of aggravated felony. However, the list does not end there, as the following could also call into question one's morality:
- A crime involving the intent to harm a person, commit fraud or damage property
- A conviction related to drugs
- Ties to prostitution or illegal gambling
- Jail or prison time for 180 days or more in the last five years
- Failing to complete probation or parole
Considering convictions can greatly influence whether or not naturalization is approved, those facing charges are greatly encouraged to reach out to an attorney after an arrest. This attorney will make sure that not only a person's rights are protected throughout the entire legal process, but this attorney can also provide guidance pertaining to the naturalization process.
The important thing to remember is that while having a criminal conviction could affect the chances of becoming a U.S. citizen, depending on the circumstances, it may still be possible to successfully complete the citizenship process. Weight will certainly be given to not only the type of crime, but also how long ago the crime was allegedly committed. Basically, do not lose hope just because of an arrest. Rather, talk with an attorney who understands not only the naturalization process, but who also represents criminal defense clients.