Naturalization Granted for Individual with Minor Shoplifting Conviction

Naturalization Granted for Individual with Minor Shoplifting Conviction

Our immigration lawyers successfully represented a client in New York City in becoming a U.S. Citizen even though she had previously been arrested for two previous minor shoplifting offenses. In addition to demonstrating the requisite amount of physical presence and continuous residence during the statutory period for naturalization and sufficient knowledge of the English language and U.S. history and government, a naturalization applicant must demonstrate good moral character and an attachment to the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution. Good moral character means character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides. Generally, an applicant must show that he or she has been and continues to be a person of good moral character during the statutory period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. The statutory period for good moral character for an applicant filing under the general naturalization provision starts 5 years prior to the date of filing. There are many factors that may be relevant in assessing an applicant’s current moral character including: family ties and background, education, absence or presence of other criminal history, law abiding behavior, community involvement and length of time in the United States.

It is also important to note that an individual can be placed into removal proceedings if that individual applies for naturalization and has a criminal conviction which can make them removable from the United States.  These can include certain drug offenses and aggravated felonies.  For such reasons, it is highly recommend that anyone with a criminal conviction consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney prior to filing for naturalization.

More than 5 years prior to filing for naturalization, our client was arrested twice for taking merchandise from a store without intent to pay.  We provided USCIS with the original certified dispositions of the shoplifting arrests, meaning original orders stamped/sealed by the court.  We showed that our client had been a person of good moral character within the 5 year statutory period because the criminal charges against her had occurred outside the 5 year statutory period, the first of which was dismissed and the second of which was a minor crime that was settled by our client pleading guilty and paying a fine.

We also helped our client prepare for her naturalization interview by reviewing the facts of her criminal history, discussing her actions that led to the arrests, and discussing positive factors that helped to show that in spite of her prior conviction she is a person of good moral character.

As our immigration attorneys were able to demonstrate that our client is a person of good moral character and our client met all the other statutory requirements for naturalization, our client passed her N-400 interview.  USCIS scheduled our client for an Oath Ceremony and today she is a U.S. Citizen.