Green card holders applying for U.S. citizenship through naturalization will need to disclose whether they have ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime. Not every crime creates an outright bar to receiving U.S. citizenship. It’s important to understand which crimes will result in denial and possible deportation.
If you have ever been convicted of one of the following, you will be permanently denied U.S. citizenship:
- Aggravated Felony (After November 29, 1990)
During your interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, he or she will review your citizenship application and record. If you have been convicted of murder or an aggravated felony, the officer will have no choice but to deny your application for citizenship. You may also be placed into removal proceedings (deportation) once USCIS is aware of your record.
You may be wondering how USCIS defines an aggravated felony. The answer isn’t so simple, because some local and state courts use different classifications. An aggravated felony is most often defined as:
- Sexual Abuse of a Minor
- Drug Trafficking
- Firearm Trafficking
- Running a Prostitution Business
- Child Pornography
- Fraud of $10,000 or more
It can also include:
- Theft or burglary (resulting in a prison term of one year or more)
- Resisting Arrest
- Reckless Driving Under the Influence
In addition to crimes that will bar you from becoming a citizen, there are additional crimes that can negatively impact your application and may result in denial. Crimes that may make you temporarily ineligible for citizenship include:
- Participation in illegal vice activities
- Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude
- 180 days or more of jail or prison time for any crime
- You committed any crime related to illegal drugs
- Conviction of two or more crimes, the combination of which got you a total prison sentence of five years or more
- Conviction of two or more gambling crimes
All applicants are required to prove good moral character, and these crimes can make it more challenging for you.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime and it’s not listed above, you may still have difficulty obtaining citizenship in today’s climate. It’s highly recommended that you contact an attorney to evaluate your case. We recommend consulting with a Crimmigration Attorney to determine eligibility for naturalization prior to completing an application. Visit our Resources page for common FAQs and to download helpful information.