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USCIS Updates Policy on when “Unlawful Acts” can Lead to Naturalization Denial


USCIS Updates Policy on when “Unlawful Acts” can Lead to Naturalization Denial

On December 13, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the section of its policy manual dealing with “unlawful acts” that can prevent the agency from finding that an applicant has the required good moral character to be approved for naturalization.

The new guidance states that an “act is unlawful if it violates the criminal or civil law of the jurisdiction where it was committed.”  For an unlawful act to be used against an applicant, it does not have to be a convicted offense.  It does not even need to have been charged as an offense.  While there is no complete list of “unlawful acts,” the policy manual includes the following as examples:

  • Bail jumping;
  • Bank fraud;
  • Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance;
  • Failure to file or pay taxes;
  • Falsification of records;
  • False claim to U.S. citizenship;
  • Forgery-uttering;
  • Insurance fraud;
  • Obstruction of justice;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Social Security fraud;
  • Unlawful harassment;
  • Unlawfully registering to vote;
  • Unlawful voting; and
  • Violating a U.S. embargo.

In addition, the policy manual confirms that even where marijuana might be legal in a specific state, it is still illegal under federal law and will often cause naturalization applications and other applications to be denied.  It is our strong recommendation that no noncitizen should work in the marijuana industry or produce, purchase, possess, or use marijuana.

If you have questions about the new “unlawful acts” guidance or about how marijuana laws might interact with an immigration case, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Click here to view the updated section of the policy manual.

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