Can I still apply for Citizenship if I have a criminal record?An applicant must show that he or she has been a person of good moral character. Certain convictions may permanently bar an applicant from applying for citizenship. Other types of convictions or criminal conduct even without conviction may complicate proving good moral character. The decision as to whether one is barred from naturalizing due to a crime depends on the nature, severity and circumstances surrounding the criminal conduct.
Generally, an applicant is permanently barred from naturalization if he or she has ever been convicted of murder. An applicant is also permanently barred from naturalization if he or she has been convicted of an aggravated felony. Additionally, a person cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years he or she:
- has committed and been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude;
- has committed and been convicted of 2 or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more;
- has committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana;
- has been confined to a penal institution during the statutory period, as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more;
- has committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses;
- is or has earned his or her principle income from illegal gambling;
- is or has been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice;
- is or has been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States;
- is or has been a habitual drunkard;
- is practicing or has practiced polygamy;
- has willfully failed or refused to support dependents;
- has given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.