Becoming a citizen of the United States is a dream that you have had for a long time. You have worked hard to comply with U.S. immigration law, obtained your green card and are on your way to naturalization. It’s important for you to be aware of certain acts that could shatter your dream and ruin you chance of obtaining citizenship.
Some crimes could get you deported immediately
If you are convicted of a crime, your immigration status could be seriously affected. The severity of the consequences for the crime largely depend on whether the crime was a felony or a misdemeanor.
There are certain crimes – and even some non-crime acts – that could remove any deportation protection you may have. In addition, they may bar you from re-entry into the United States in the future.
Every court is different, and there is no guarantee that a court will deport you for a certain act. But some crimes and non-crime acts often result in deportation. These acts include:
- Tax fraud or evasion
- Consensual sex between a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old
- Child abuse
Crimes can make it harder to become a citizen
If you are in the United States on a green card, and are applying for naturalization, certain crimes can make you ineligible for U.S. citizenship. These are violent crimes such as murder or rape.
Other crimes don’t necessarily mean that you will never be able to become a citizen, but they make the process much harder. For example, if you are arrested for possession or distribution of illegal drugs or prostitution, you could be temporarily ineligible for naturalization. You will have to wait a certain number of years, depending on the crime, before you can apply for citizenship.
Even if the crime on your record doesn’t make you ineligible for citizenship, USCIS can still consider the crime when deciding whether to grant you citizenship or not. This is because part of USCIS’s decision process includes examining whether you have good moral character. A crime on your record could be all it takes to convince them to deny your application.
That’s why, if citizenship is your goal, it is best to avoid all crime and play it safe. Hopefully, with time, your dream of becoming a United States citizen can become a reality.