Naturalization Denial Due to False Statements

Giving false information on immigration applications not only leads to a possible denial of the benefit requested. It could also someday result in a denial of one’s naturalization application.

In one case, a district court agreed with the USCIS in denying a naturalization applicant  for false statements she had made in her I-751 petition to remove conditions on her permanent residence.

At the time that she filed the petition, her U.S. citizen husband no longer resided with her and was not even in the same state. She also had a child by another man. However, in the I-751 she listed a Florida address for her husband and falsely stated that she had no children.

False statements made in order to obtain any immigration benefit can result in a finding of lack of good moral character. Good moral character is one of the requirements for naturalization. The applicant has the burden to establish that he/she had it for the required period of residence and up to the time of filing and administration of oath.

The USCIS generally looks only at the statutory period (generally five years, three for spouses of U.S. citizens) to determine whether the applicant meets the requirement.

If before the statutory period the applicant committed acts or exhibited conduct that would otherwise show lack of good moral character, the USCIS may not deny the application solely on these acts or conduct, but it will consider whether, during the statutory period the applicant has reformed his/her character.

The law gives no specific definition for good moral character but the USCIS has adopted a reasonable standard. It is described as that character measured by the standards of average citizens of the community, but which does not require the highest degree of moral excellence.

Certain classes of people are enumerated in the law as ineligible for naturalization for lack of good moral character, such individuals who were at any time convicted of murder or an aggravated felony.

Aliens who during the statutory period were convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or committed 2 or more offenses and sentenced to at least 5 years in prison, or committed drug offenses, are also deemed to lack good moral character.

Admission that one has committed a criminal act either in the U.S. or abroad, although not formally charged, arrested or convicted for it, makes him/her ineligible for naturalization.

Other classes of ineligible aliens include habitual drunkards, smugglers, polygamists, illegal gamblers and those engaged in prostitution or commercialized vice. A bar also exists for aliens previously ordered removed, illegal voters, and those who have made a false claim to U.S. citizenship.

Other grounds include willful failure or refusal to support dependents, adultery, or unlawful acts that adversely reflect on moral character, committed during the statutory period. However, applicants may be able to overcome a negative finding by showing mitigating or favorable factors.

Some male applicants also overlook the requirement of selective service registration. Save for a few excepted classes such as nonimmigrants on student, visitor, tourist or diplomatic visas, all men over 18 but less than 26 years old must register with selective service. Knowing and willful failure to do so will raise concerns on one’s eligibility for naturalization.