The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services considers several factors during the naturalization application process, one of which is good moral character. Some moral character issues act only as temporary bars to citizenship, while others permanently bar individuals from obtaining citizenship. If a person hopes to obtain citizenship and continue to reside in Michigan, he or she must pass the USCIS’s good moral character test.
According to FindLaw, the U.S. government runs a thorough background check to determine if a person’s moral character is good enough to warrant U.S. citizenship. From the background check, the USCIS strives to determine two things: If the applicant lied at all on his or her application or if he or she has a criminal record.
Lying is automatic grounds for disqualification for citizenship. It is also grounds for the revocation of citizenship that the government has already granted. Certain crimes, such as theft or a DUI, may result in temporary ineligibility for citizenship, but the USCIS typically forgives crimes that took place more than five years prior to the date of application. However, some criminal convictions serve to permanently bar applicants from obtaining citizenship.
According to the USCIS website, permanent bars to good moral character include murder, aggravated felony or the persecution, torture, genocide or severe violation of another’s religious freedom. An aggravated felony, in the immigration context, may differ from what the judicial system would typically recognize as an aggravated felony. For the USCIS to permanently bar an applicant from citizenship, the conviction must have caused the judge to order a prison term of at least one year. That is not to say the person must have served the entire sentence. Even if the court waives or suspends an applicant’s entire sentence, the USCIS will still consider the applicant to be lacking in good moral character.