Anyone in British Columbia who wants to become a naturalized U.S. citizen will need to be aware of recent changes to the application requirements. U.S. immigration laws have always required applicants to demonstrate moral character. Up until recently, the list of criminal convictions that automatically disqualified an individual was somewhat limited. Applicants were also required not to have been accused of certain criminal charges for the five years preceding the application.
Unacceptable behaviours that will make the applicant ineligible include illegal gambling, drunk driving, prostitution, dishonesty in seeking immigration benefits and a criminal record showing aggravated felonies. According to a recent news release issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the new list of unlawful acts is significantly more extensive than the previous list. Furthermore, the new GMC requirements will include clear examples of actions deemed unlawful.
The DUI requirements now state that any green card holder with two or more convictions for DUI within the prescribed period will have a more difficult path to obtain citizenship and could be turned down. Also, 15 new examples of acts deemed unlawful were added to the good moral character requirements. These cover forgery, fraud, controlled substance-related crimes, tax fraud and many other actions such as unlawful harassment, sexual assault, false claims to U.S. citizenship, unlawful voting and more.
Before taking steps to apply for naturalization, green card holders may be advised to consult with a British Columbia lawyer with experience in dealing with U.S. immigration laws. A lawyer will be up to date with the recent additions to GMC requirements. With the advice and guidance of legal counsel, the applicant’s application for naturalization has the best chance of proceeding without unnecessary problems.