I’ve had a handful of people ask me questions about renewing their green cards. After reviewing everything I asked the person “have you ever thought about becoming an American citizen?” I was surprised to hear that many did not know they could become a citizen.
The requirements for a green card holder to become a citizen are listed here. The last requirement, good moral character, has tripped up many applying for citizenship.
The definition of good moral character is broad and the catch-all “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (CIMT) has caught many immigrants off guard when applying for citizenship. As stated in the regulations, a CIMT can bar citizenship.
To determine whether a CIMT has been committed, the state criminal statute where the crime was committed has to be examined. Different states might have different requirements for a crime, although they are named the same. A thorough review of the statute is required.
Because the issue of CIMT can cause so much trouble, it is best to sit down with an attorney and discuss your legal history. Write down every arrest, conviction, or any run in with the authorities you have had, when it happened, where it happened, and the outcome. This will allow the attorney to research and determine whether you have a chance of gaining citizenship.