A dream of many foreign nationals is becoming a citizen of the United States by way of California. If you hold a green card holder and wish to apply for citizenship, you must disclose any criminal convictions you have experienced. Not every crime will bar you from citizenship, but it is vital to know which ones could prevent you from becoming a permanent resident.
Severe criminal offenses bar immigration and naturalization
The U.S. government strives to ensure that only foreign nationals of good moral character acquire permanent residency status. Delving deeply into your criminal background with help from agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one way the USCIS accomplishes this goal.
If you have been convicted of a serious crime, you can expect to attract the wrong kind of attention from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Convictions on the offenses below typically result in a permanent bar from citizenship:
- Murder, torture and genocide
- Trafficking in controlled substances
- Violent crimes (accompanied by a prison term)
- Gambling and racketeering
- Smuggling of non-Americans
- Passport or documentation fraud
- Violating religious freedoms
- Firearms and explosives offenses
- Extrajudicial killings
- Laundering large amounts ($10,000 or more) of money
The list above is far from complete and even includes convictions associated with prostitution and information theft. For best results, have a legal advcoate conduct a thorough review of your record to ensure you meet the legal requirements for citizenship. The government looks for criminal convictions occurring in countries other than America as well.