Trying to become a U.S. citizen takes time, dedication and persistence. What happens if you become convicted of a crime before starting the process?
The Immigration and Nationality Act or INA contains valuable insight into what you can and cannot do while applying to become a citizen. Certain crimes immediately void your application. Discover some of the basics about crimes that may complicate your citizenship efforts.
Was your crime considered one of moral turpitude?
Under the INA, one category of crime that nullifies your application is one of moral turpitude. The INA describes it as a crime that is vile, baseless, contrary to the rules of morality or depraved. A moral turpitude charge does not exist because it has to do with the nature of the crime. Some examples include:
- Spousal abuse
- Murder or manslaughter
- Child abuse
Was trafficking involved?
A clear policy involves any crime having to do with trafficking. This includes both drug trafficking and human trafficking. If you have a conviction for either one, the government likely will not allow you entry. Should you face these charges while already in the U.S. but before you gain citizenship, you may face deportation.
What is a waiver?
As with many things, the INA allows for instances where you may apply for a waiver with a criminal record. If your crime involved speaking out against the government, you may continue with the process. The government may also grant a pass for prostitution convictions, especially if you were young and possibly trafficked. The length of time since your conviction may also make you eligible to apply for a waiver.
The path to becoming a U.S. citizen is not easy. Should you need help or have questions, an ally with experience dealing with the process may give you the guidance and advice you need.