|THE COLUMNIST Atty Crispin Lozano
By Atty. Crispin C. Lozano
When a person applies for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident of the United States, or for citizenship or naturalization, a lack of good moral character, a finding of moral turpitude, and certain criminal offenses can result in a finding of inadmissibility, denial of visa, or denial of naturalization.
There are permanent and conditional bars to the determination of good moral character.
We will discuss the conditional bars to naturalization in this article.
Q: What do conditional bars to good moral character mean?
A: Conditional bars are not permanent in nature and are triggered by specific acts, offenses, activities, circumstances, or convictions within the statutory period for naturalization, including the period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Some crimes bar you from naturalizing for only the five or three years prior to your applying for naturalization. That’s because the law requires a naturalization applicant to prove five years of good moral character as a condition for naturalizing, three years if you qualify under the special rules that apply to certain spouses of US citizens.
Q: What crimes are considered conditional bars to good moral character?
A: Crimes in this conditional bar category include any crime involving moral turpitude, two or more gambling offenses, a drug offense, two or more nonpolitical offenses for which a judge sentenced you to five years’ imprisonment or more, and any crime for which you were confined to prison for more than 180 days. So, if the crime is in this group, but is not an aggravated felony, you can naturalize five (or three) years after having committed the crime.
Q: How can it be determined that an act is a crime involving moral turpitude?
A: Whether an offense is a CIMT is largely based on whether the offense involves willful conduct that is morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, the essence of which is a reckless, evil or malicious intent. The Attorney General has decreed that a finding of “moral turpitude” requires that the perpetrator committed a reprehensible act with some form of guilty knowledge.
Q: What crimes can be considered crimes involving moral turpitude?
A: A crime involving fraud or dishonesty is usually considered to involve moral turpitude.
Other crimes the law considers to involve moral turpitude are: arson; assault with intent to kill or inflict serious bodily harm; bigamy; blackmail; bribery; bad check convictions; burglary; counterfeiting; larceny; perjury; prostitution; rape; drug crimes; receiving stolen goods; robbery; and sexual offenses. These crimes may be divided into crimes against a person, crimes against property, sexual and family crimes, and crimes against the authority of the government,
Q: When are crimes against a person considered a CIMT?
A: Crimes against a person involve moral turpitude when the offense contains criminal intent or recklessness or when the crime is defined as morally reprehensible by state statute. Criminal intent or recklessness may be inferred from the presence of unjustified violence or the use of a dangerous weapon. For example, aggravated battery is usually, if not always, a CIMT. Simple assault and battery is not usually considered a CIMT.
Q: When are crimes against property considered a CIMT?
A: Moral turpitude attaches to any crime against property that involves fraud, whether it entails fraud against the government or against an individual. Certain crimes against property may require guilty knowledge or intent to permanently take property. Petty theft, grand theft, forgery, and robbery are CIMTs in some states.
Q: When are sexual and family crimes considered CIMTs?
A: It is difficult to discern a distinguishing set of principles that the courts apply to determine whether a particular offense involving sexual and family crimes is a CIMT. In some cases, the presence or absence of violence seems to be an important factor. The presence or absence of criminal intent may also be a determining factor. The CIMT determination depends upon state statutes and the controlling case law and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Offenses such as spousal or child abuse may rise to the level of a CIMT, while an offense involving a domestic simple assault generally does not. An offense relating to indecent exposure or abandonment of a minor child may or may not rise to the level of a CIMT. In general, if the person knew or should have known that the victim was a minor, any intentional sexual contact with a child involves moral turpitude.
Q: When are crimes against the authority of the government considered crimes involving moral turpitude?
A: The presence of fraud primarily determines the presence of moral turpitude in crimes against the authority of the government.
Note: This is not a legal advice.
1. On May 22, 2015, we received an approval of I-751 waiver of joint petition based on spousal abuse.
2. On May 18, 2015, we received an approval of adjustment of status for a client based on marriage with big age gap between spouses.
3. On May 6, 2015, we received an approval of PROVISIONAL WAIVER for a Mexican national in Ciudad Juarez based on petition by US citizen spouse.
4. On April 30, 2015, we received an approval from the Immigration Court of I-751 review based on spousal abuse.
5. On April 20, 2015, we received an approval from USCIS of green card for a client who used three names in her lifetime. We submitted numerous documents to prove proper identity.
6. On April 14, 2015, we received approval of naturalization for a client who has three DUI and a civil harassment case. The DUI and civil harassment has all been cleared before.
7. On April 10, 2015, we received an approval of immigrant visa for a client who originally confessed marriage is for immigration benefits only but later on had a serious relationship with petitioner.
8. On March 30, 2015, we received an approval from the Immigration Judge for a waiver of misrepresentation involving marriage fraud that happened at the U.S. Embassy. The alien subsequently get a green card from a petition by her mother. She could not naturalize unless a waiver of misrepresentation is granted. With the waiver she is now qualified for naturalization.
9. On March 10, 2015, we received an approval from USCIS for an adjustment of status for SAME SEX MARRIAGE.
10. On February 18, 2015, we received an approval by USCIS of green card based on self petition by an abused spouse. Her minor children are now qualified to immigrate based on this approval.
11. On February 10, 2015, we received an approval of green card for a client who entered without inspection. We first sought an advance parole with USCIS so that she can travel to her country legally and come back to the U.S.
12. On January 20, 2015, we received an approval of immigrant visa under the Provisional Waiver program for a seaman client. She successfully arrived to the U.S. without problem.
13. On January 7, 2015, we received an approval of adjustment of status from USCIS for a client who entered without inspection but reentered on a parole visa. Parole visa became the basis of legal entry to allow for adjustment of status.
14. On January 5, 2015, we received two approvals of I-601A waiver under the Provisional Waiver Program.
15. On December 17, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of a green card under the Violence against Women Act.
16. On December 16, 2014, we received an approval of DACA for an alien who has a final order of removal.
17. On December 11, 2014, we received an approval of immigrant visa for an alien who entered the U.S. as a seaman under Provisional Waiver Program.
18. On October 7, 2014, we received an approval from the U.S. Embassy in Manila an immigrant visa for a client who entered the US without inspection under the Provisional Waiver Program.
19. On September 26, 2014, we received an approval from the Immigration Court for waiver of misrepresentation for a client who entered as single but actually married at the time of entry to the U.S.
20. On September 9, 2014, we received an approval from Immigration Court of adjustment of status for a client who was previously denied an asylum.
21. On September 8, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of Form I-601A provisional waiver for two clients.
22. On September 5, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS for Fiancée visa based on same sex petition.
23. On September 4, 2014, we received an approval of DACA for a client who has problem in her birth certificate.
24. On August 28, 2014, we received an approval of green card based on spousal abuse.
25. On August 25, 2014, we received an approval of green card based on same sex marriage with big age difference.
26. On August 1, 2014, we received an approval of waiver of joint filing of I-751 based on spousal abuse. With the approval she was granted permanent residence.
27. On July 21. 2014, we received an approval of green card based on marriage that was initially denied due to inconsistencies in interview response.
28. On July 19, 2014, we received an approval of I-751 removal of condition on residence waiver based on battered spouse.
29. On June 11, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of green card under Violence against Women Act.
(Crispin Caday Lozano is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Association of Consumers Bankruptcy Attorneys. He specializes in immigration law and bankruptcy law. (email@example.com/ 1-877-456-9266)