What Constitutes Good Moral Character?
Becoming a U.S. Citizen
One of the
general requirements for naturalization is good moral character (GMC). GMC means character
which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community
in which the applicant resides. In general, an applicant must show that
he or she has been and continues to be a person of GMC during the statutory
period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance.
In general, the statutory period for GMC for an applicant filing under
the general naturalization provision starts five years prior to the date
of filing. The statutory period starts three years prior to the date of
filing for certain spouses of U.S. citizens. The period during which certain
service members or veterans must show GMC starts one or five years from
the date of filing depending on the military provision.
However, it is very important to note that the applicant’s conduct
outside the GMC period may also impact whether he or she meets the GMC
requirement. For example, an applicant’s conduct prior to the GMC
period may affect the applicant’s ability to establish GMC if the
applicant’s present conduct does not reflect a reformation of character
or the earlier conduct is relevant to the applicant’s present moral
What Is a Good Moral Character Letter?
A good moral character letter is written by someone you are familiar with
and will vouch for your excellent character. It is used to support immigrants
in their intention to become a U.S. citizen. There are no requirements
on who can write this letter, but it is more effective to be written by
someone who has a professional connection with the applicant, such as
a past employer, priest, supervisor, co-worker or an individual with an
executive position. This individual must be familiar with the applicant’s
personal circumstances and the type of immigration they are applying for.
What May Keep a Person From Establishing GMC?
In general, an officer must consider the totality of the circumstances
and weigh all factors, favorable and unfavorable. An applicant may be
unable to establish GMC if he or she admits committing certain offenses
even if the applicant has never been formally charged, indicted, arrested
or convicted. Immigration has recognized permanent bars to GMC that includes,
but it is not limited, to murder, trafficking controlled substances, some
theft offenses and prostitution. There are also conditional bars to GMC
such as child or spousal abuse, fraud, gambling offenses, adultery, alcoholism,
unlawful voting and failure to pay taxes.
Contact Our Los Angeles Immigration Firm Today
The attorneys at the
Law Offices of Michael M. Felix can review your record and explain if there are any immigration consequences.
It is pivotal to consult with an immigration attorney such as our attorneys
to prove one of the most difficult requirements for
You can schedule a
free consultation by calling (562) 445-4870.