U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently expanded its policy guidance on good moral character (GMC) determinations.
On December 13, 2019, USCIS expanded its policy guidance regarding unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the GMC requirement for naturalization. USCIS said this update to its Policy Manual provides additional examples of unlawful acts and instructions for USCIS adjudicators, and further identifies unlawful acts that may affect GMC determinations based on judicial precedent. USCIS said this update does not change the impact of an unlawful act on the agency’s analysis of whether an applicant can demonstrate GMC. Adjudicators “are not limited by the examples listed in the Policy Manual,” USCIS noted.
On December 10, 2019, USCIS issued separate policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual about how two or more convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) or post-sentencing changes to criminal sentencing might affect GMC determinations. USCIS said it was implementing two decisions from the attorney general, Matter of Castillo-Perez and Matter of Thomas and Thompson.
Based on those two decisions, USCIS noted that “[w]hen applying for an immigration benefit for which GMC is required, applicants with two or more DUI convictions may be able to overcome this presumption by presenting evidence that they had good moral character even during the period within which they committed the DUI offenses.” Also, USCIS said, “[p]ost-sentencing orders that change a criminal alien’s original sentence will only be relevant for immigration purposes if they are based on a procedural or substantive defect in the underlying criminal proceeding.”
- USCIS’s December 13 guidance is at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/policymanual/updates/20191213-GMCUnlawfulActs.pdf. The related announcement is at https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-expands-guidance-related-naturalization-requirement-good-moral-character.
- USCIS’s December 10 guidance is at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/policymanual/updates/20191210-AGOnDUIAndSentencing.pdf. The related announcement is at https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-implements-two-decisions-attorney-general-good-moral-character-determinations.