Immigration Blog

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Naturalization with criminal history

Mar 29, 2023 | Crimmigration, immigration, N400, USCIS


Can I apply for citizenship with criminal history?

It depends! Yes, you can apply for citizenship with a criminal history.

However, it is important to note that having a criminal record may make it more difficult to obtain citizenship.

In some cases, you may be permanently ineligible to apply for citizenship due to a criminal conviction.

If your criminal history also makes you deportable, you may also be placed in removal proceedings if you file for naturalization, where you risk losing your green card in immigration court.

How can I succeed on my citizenship case if I have criminal history?

USCIS will consider your criminal record when making a decision about your eligibility to naturalize, as well as whether to exercise favorable discretion.  In every case, you will also  need to show that you have good moral character.

Even if the charges against you were dropped, or your case dismissed or sealed, you will still need to disclose it on your naturalization application.  Failure to disclose can lead to a denial.

There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of obtaining citizenship with a criminal record:

1. Be honest about your criminal record on your application. USCIS will have run a background check on you already, so it doesn’t serve you not to disclose everything. Failure to disclose can hurt!

2. Show that you have taken steps to rehabilitate yourself

3. Show that you have a strong support system

4. Show that you are a law-abiding resident (such as, you are paying taxes, etc).

If you owe any taxes, make sure you fully pay, or get on a repayment plan with the IRS.

If you are convicted of a crime after you became a lawful permanent resident, it is important to speak with an immigration attorney if you are considering applying for citizenship. You need to know whether you are eligible for citizenship, whether you face deportation if your conviction makes you deportable, and whether you face risks renewing your green card, even if you decide not to apply for citizenship. An attorney can help you to understand your options and to protect your rights.

If you are considering applying for citizenship, but have a criminal history and are unsure of what you should do, contact me to see how I can help you decide what you should or should not do!

Ruchi Thaker