USCIS Policy Manual
Volume 12 - Citizenship & Naturalization
Part F - Good Moral Character
Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background
C. Legal Authorities
See Chapter 2, Adjudicative Factors, Section A, Applicable Statutory Period [12 USCIS-PM F.2(A)].
See INA 101(f).
Chapter 2 - Adjudicative Factors
A. Applicable Statutory Period
B. Conduct Outside of the Statutory Period
C. Definition of Conviction
1. Statutory Definition of Conviction for Immigration Purposes
2. Juvenile Convictions
3. Court Martial Convictions
4. Deferrals of Adjudication
5. Vacated Judgments
6. Foreign Convictions
8. Expunged Records
D. Effect of Probation
E. Admission of Certain Criminal Acts
F. “Purely Political Offense” Exception
G. Extenuating Circumstances
H. Removability and GMC
See the relevant Volume 12 [12 USCIS-PM] part for the specific statutory period pertaining to each naturalization provision.
See 8 CFR 316.10(a)(1).
See Ralich v. United States, 185 F.2d 784 (1950) (provided false testimony within the statutory period and operated a house of prostitution prior to the statutory period). See Marcantonio v. United States, 185 F.2d 934 (1950) (applicant had rehabilitated his character after multiple arrests before statutory period).
The term “nolo contendere” is Latin for “I do not wish to contest.”
See INA 101(a)(48)(A).
See Matter of Grullon, 20 I&N Dec. 12 (BIA 1989).
See Matter of Devison-Charles, 22 I&N Dec. 1362 (BIA 2000).
See Matter of Rivera-Valencia, 24 I&N Dec. 484 (BIA 2008).
The term “nolle prosequi” is Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute.”
See Pickering v. Gonzales, 465 F.3d 263 (6th Cir. 2006).
See Matter of Adamiak, 23 I&N Dec. 878 (BIA 2006). See Alim v. Gonzales, 446 F.3d 1239 (11th Cir 2006).
See Lennon v. INS, 527 F.2d 187 (2nd Cir. 1975).
Executive pardons are given by the President or a governor of the United States.
See Marino v. INS, 537 F.2d 686 (2nd Cir. 1976). See Mullen-Cofee v. INS, 976 F.2d 1375 (11th Cir. 1992). See Matter of B-, 7 I&N Dec. 166 (BIA 1956) (referring to amnesty).
See Matter of Marroquin, 23 I&N Dec. 705 (A.G. 2005).
For cases arising in the Ninth Circuit involving state law convictions for simple possession of a controlled substance, please consult local counsel as the date of the conviction may affect whether possible treatment under the Federal First Offender Act renders the conviction invalid for immigration purposes. See Nunez-Reyes v. Holder, 646 F.3d 684 (9th Cir 2011).
See Danso v. Gonzales, 489 F.3d 709 (5th Cir. 2007). See Elkins v. Comfort, 392 F.3d 1159 (10th Cir. 2004).
See In re Roldan-Santoyo, 22 I&N Dec. 512 (BIA 1999).
See 8 CFR 316.10(c)(1).
See Matter of K-, 7 I&N Dec. 594 (BIA 1957).
See Matter of J-, 2 I&N Dec. 285 (BIA 1945).
See In re O'Cealleagh, 23 I&N Dec. 976 (BIA 2006) (finding that a CIMT offense must be completely or totally political for “purely political offense” exception to apply).
See 22 CFR 40.21(a)(6).
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period [12 USCIS-PM F.5], for further guidance on each bar to GMC.
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section A, One or More Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude [12 USCIS-PM F.5(A)].
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section B, Aggregate Sentence of Five Years or More [12 USCIS-PM F.5(B)].
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section D, Imprisonment for 180 Days or More [12 USCIS-PM F.5(D)].
See 8 CFR 316.10(b)(3).
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period [12 USCIS-PM F.5], for further guidance on extenuating circumstances.
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section K, Failure to Support Dependents [12 USCIS-PM F.5(K)].
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section L, Adultery [12 USCIS-PM F.5(L)].
See Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period, Section M, Unlawful Acts [12 USCIS-PM F.5(M)].
See INA 237 (“general classes of deportable aliens”).
Chapter 3 - Evidence and the Record
A. Applicant Testimony
B. Court Dispositions
C. Failure to Respond to Request for Evidence
See Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing [12 USCIS-PM E.2], for guidance on rephrasing questions.
See Part B, Naturalization Examination, Chapter 4, Results of the Naturalization Examination [12 USCIS-PM B.4], for guidance on decisions on the application, to include cases where the applicant fails to respond.
Chapter 4 - Permanent Bars to Good Moral Character (GMC)
B. Aggravated Felony
“Aggravated Felonies” in the Immigration Context
Murder, Rape, or Sexual Abuse of a Minor
Illicit Trafficking in Controlled Substance
Illicit Trafficking in Firearms or Destructive Devices
Money Laundering Offenses (over $10,000)
Explosive Materials and Firearms Offenses
Crime of Violence (imprisonment term of at least 1 yr)
Theft Offense (imprisonment term of at least 1 yr)
Demand for or Receipt of Ransom
Child Pornography Offense
Racketeering, Gambling (imprisonment term of at least 1 yr)
Prostitution Offenses (managing, transporting, trafficking)
Gathering or Transmitting Classified Information
Fraud or Deceit Offenses or Tax Evasion (over $10,000)
Illegal Entry or Reentry by Removed Aggravated Felon
Passport, Document Fraud (imprisonment term of at least 1 yr)
Failure to Appear Sentence (offense punishable by at least 5 yrs)
Bribery, Counterfeiting, Forgery, or Trafficking in Vehicles
Obstruction of Justice, Perjury, Bribery of Witness
Failure to Appear to Court (offense punishable by at least 2 yrs)
Attempt or Conspiracy to Commit an Aggravated Felony
C. Persecution, Genocide, Torture, or Severe Violations of Religious Freedom
1. Nazi Persecutions
3. Torture or Extrajudicial Killings
4. Particularly Severe Violations of Religious Freedom
See 8 CFR 316.10(a)(2).
See 18 U.S.C. 1091. See Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (78 U.N.T.S. 278 [Dec. 9, 1948]).
See 18 U.S.C. 2340.
See 28 U.S.C. 1350 (Note). See Section 3(a) of the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.
See 22 U.S.C. 6402.
Chapter 5 - Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period
Conditional Bars to GMC for Acts Committed in Statutory Period
One or More CIMTs
Conviction or admission of one or more CIMTs (other than political offense), except for one petty offense
Aggregate Sentence of Five Yrs or More
Conviction of two or more offenses with combined sentence of five years or more (other than political offense)
Controlled Substance Violation
Violation of any law on controlled substances, except for simple possession of 30g or less of marijuana
Incarceration for 180 Days
Incarceration for a total period of 180 days or more, except political offense and ensuing confinement abroad
False Testimony under Oath
False testimony for the purpose of obtaining any immigration benefit
Engaged in prostitution, attempted or procured to import prostitution, or received proceeds from prostitution
Smuggling of a Person
Involved in smuggling of a person to enter or try to enter the United States in violation of law
Practiced or is practicing polygamy (the custom of having more than one spouse at the same time)
Two or more gambling offenses or derives income principally from illegal gambling activities
Is or was a habitual drunkard
Failure to Support Dependents
Willful failure or refusal to support dependents, unless extenuating circumstances are established
Extramarital affair tending to destroy existing marriage, unless extenuating circumstances are established
Unlawful act that adversely reflect upon GMC, unless extenuating circumstances are established
A. One or More Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
1. Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)
General Categories of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs)
Elements of Crime
Crimes against a person
Criminal intent or recklessness, or is defined as morally reprehensible by state (may include statutory rape)
Crimes against property
Involving fraud against the government or an individual (may include theft, forgery, robbery)
Sexual and family crimes
No one set of principles or elements; see further explanation below (may include spousal or child abuse)
Crimes against authority of the Government
Presence of fraud is the main determining factor (may include offering a bribe, counterfeiting)
2. Committing One or More CIMTs in Statutory Period
B. Aggregate Sentence of Five Years or More
C. Controlled Substance Violation
D. Imprisonment for 180 Days or More
E. False Testimony
1. False Testimony in Statutory Period
2. Three Elements of False Testimony
G. Smuggling of a Person
J. Habitual Drunkard
K. Failure to Support Dependents
M. Unlawful Acts
1. Unlawful Voting and False Claim to U.S. Citizenship for Voting
Effect on GMC by Unlawful Voting or
False Claim to U.S. Citizenship in Statutory Period
Effect on GMC
If Not Convicted
May be fined or imprisoned up to 1 yr, or both
Unlikely a CIMT and will not bar GMC by itself
Bars GMC if incarcerated for 180 days or more, or if sentence from convictions total 5 yrs or more
May bar GMC depending on totality of the circumstances, and on whether exceptions apply
False Claim to Citizenship
May be fined or imprisoned up to 5 yrs, or both
CIMT and will bar GMC (may be a felony)
2. Failure to File Tax Returns or Pay Taxes
See Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687, 688, 706 (A.G. 2008).
See Matter of Esfandiary, 16 I&N Dec. 659 (BIA 1979).
See Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687 (A.G. 2008).
See Matter of Garcia-Hernandez, 23 I&N Dec. 590, 594-95 (BIA 2003).
See Matter of Piroglu, 17 I&N Dec. 578 (BIA 1980).
See Matter of R-S-J-, 22 I&N Dec. 863 (BIA 1999).
See Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 780-81 (1988).
See Matter of L-D-E, 8 I&N Dec. 399 (BIA 1959).
See Matter of Ngan, 10 I&N Dec. 725 (BIA 1964). See Matter of G-L-T-, 8 I&N Dec. 403 (BIA 1959).
See Matter of G-, 6 I&N Dec. 208 (BIA 1954).
See Matter of T, 6 I&N Dec. 474 (BIA 1955).
See Matter of Gonzalez-Zoquiapan, 24 I&N Dec. 549 (BIA 2008).
Polygamy is not the same as bigamy. Bigamy is the crime of marrying a person while being legally married to someone else. An applicant who has committed bigamy may be susceptible to a denial under the “unlawful acts” provision.
See Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
See Brukiewicz v. Savoretti, 211 F.2d 541 (5th Cir. 1954). See Petition of Perdiak, 162 F.Supp. 76 (S.D. Cal. 1958). See Petition of Dobric, 189 F.Supp. 638 (D. Minn. 1960). See In re Malaszenko, 204 F.Supp. 744 (D.N.J. 1962) (and cases cited). See Petition of Dobric, 189 F.Supp. 638 (D. Minn. 1960). See In re Huymaier, 345 F.Supp. 339 (E.D. Pa. 1972). See In re Valad, 465 F.Supp. 120 (E.D. Va. 1979).
See U.S. v. Harrison, 180 F.2d 981 (9th Cir. 1950).
See In re Malaszenko, 204 F.Supp. 744 (D. N.J. 1962). See In re Mogus, 73 F.Supp. 150 (W.D. Pa. 1947).
See In re Halas, 274 F.Supp. 604 (E.D. Pa. 1967). See Petition of Dobric, 189 F.Supp. 638 (D. Minn. 1960).
See Chapter 2, Adjudicative Factors, Section G, Extenuating Circumstances [12 USCIS-PM F.2(G)].
See In re Huymaier, 345 F.Supp. 339 (E.D. Pa. 1972).
See Petition of Perdiak, 162 F.Supp. 76 (S.D. Cal. 1958).
See In re Valad, 465 F.Supp. 120 (E.D. Va. 1979).
See Etape v. Napolitano, 664 F.Supp.2d 498, 517 (D. Md. 2009).
See Chapter 2, Adjudicative Factors, Section G, Extenuating Circumstances [12 USCIS-PM F.2(G)].
See In re Petition of Schroers, 336 F.Supp. 1348 (S.D.N.Y. 1971). See In re Petition of Russo, 259 F.Supp. 230 (S.D.N.Y. 1966). See Dickhoff v. Shaughnessy, 142 F.Supp. 535 (S.D.N.Y. 1956).
See U.S. v. Lekarczyk, 354 F.Supp.2d 883 (W.D. Wis. 2005). See Jean-Baptiste v. United States, 395 F.3d 1190 (11th Cir.2005). Collateral estoppel bars a defendant who is convicted in a criminal trial from contesting this conviction in a subsequent civil action with respect to issues necessarily decided in the criminal trial. See Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 157 (1963).
See Jean-Baptiste v. United States, 395 F.3d 1190 (11th Cir. 2005) citing Rico v. INS, 262 F.Supp.2d 6 (E.D.N.Y. 2003).
See Jean-Baptiste v. United States, 395 F.3d 1190 (11th Cir. 2005).
See INA 212(a)(10)(D)(i) and INA 237(a)(6)(A) (addressing unlawful voting). See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii)(I) and INA 237(a)(3)(D)(i) (addressing false claims to U.S. citizenship). These provisions were added by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), Pub. L. 104-208 (September 30, 1996).
See 18 U.S.C. 611 (voting by aliens).
See 18 U.S.C. 1015(f) (false claim to U.S. citizenship).
See INA 101(f)(3).
See Section 201(d)(3) of the CCA, Pub. L. 106-395, 114 Stat. 1631, 1636 (October 30, 2000).
As a matter of policy, USCIS has determined that the applicant’s parents had to be U.S. citizens at the time of the illegal voting or false claim to U.S. citizenship in order to meet the first prong of this exception.
The following involve defrauding the United States by avoiding taxes (a CIMT). See Matter of M , 8 I&N Dec. 535 (BIA 1960). See Matter of E , 9 I&N Dec. 421 (BIA 1961). See Carty v. Ashcroft, 395 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2005) (state failure to pay taxes; evasion is same as fraud). See Wittgenstein v. INS, 124 F.3d 1244 (10th Cir. 1997) (state crime).
|Technical Update –||Certified Court Dispositions|
This technical update adds language addressing existing policy on circumstances where an applicant is required to provide a certified court disposition.
|POLICY ALERT –||Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance|
USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.