One of the requirements for U.S. citizenship through naturalization is that the applicant has good moral character. Good moral character does not mean moral excellence. However, if you have or had an issue(s) with any of the listed warning items below, you may not meet the good moral character requirement and in some cases, it may prevent you from naturalizing and can place you in removal/deportation proceedings. See the CUNY Citizenship Now! Read Me First Guide for more in-depth information about good moral character requirements.

You should see an immigration attorney or BIA accredited representative if any of the following apply to you, before submitting your application:

1. You have been arrested, charged, cited.

If you have been convicted of certain serious crimes, you might be barred from naturalizing. Parking tickets and many other minor offenses usually will not prevent you from proving that you have good moral character, but a conviction for disorderly conduct, depending on the circumstances of the offense, might lead USCIS to find that you lack good moral character.

2. You have ever lied to any immigration officer, consular official, or government official.

If you have made certain false statements or provided false documents to any U.S. government official it might make you removable/deportable. Other false statements or false documents might prevent you from establishing good moral character and might be only a temporary bar to naturalization.

3. You married solely to obtain resident status.

If you married someone solely in order to obtain your green card, it is a deportable offense. When you apply for naturalization, USCIS will review your entire immigration history to see how you obtained your green card. If they determine that you received your green card through a marriage that was not “bona fide” or real, USCIS will deny your naturalization application and initiate removal/deportation proceedings against you.

4. Since becoming a lawful permanent resident, you have been absent from the United States for long periods of time, especially periods over one year.

If you have taken any trip outside the United States that lasted 6 months or more, you will need to provide proof that you did not abandon your residence and continued to live, work and/or keep ties to the United States during your absence. Such proof might include having close family, a house or apartment, a job, and bank or utility accounts in the United States.

5. You failed to file a required income tax return for any year since becoming a lawful permanent resident or you currently owe money to the government for overdue taxes.

You need to provide all correspondence with the IRS regarding your failure to file; or a signed agreement from the IRS or state or local tax office showing that you have filed a tax return and arranged to pay the taxes you owe. Documentation from the IRS or state or local tax office showing the current status of your repayment program is also required.

6. You have ever registered to vote or unlawfully voted.

Only U.S. citizens have the right to register and vote in local, state and federal elections. Making a false claim to U.S. citizenship by registering to vote can make you deportable, such as by filling out a voter registration card. Unlawfully voting in an election can also make you deportable.

7. You failed to support your dependents or to pay alimony.

Willful failure or refusal to support your dependents or to pay alimony may make you ineligible for naturalization. If you have children who are not living with you or a spouse who is not living with you, be prepared to answer questions as to whether you are required to support them and whether you are doing so.

8. You are a male who lived in the United States at any time between your 18th and 26th birthdays and failed to register with the Selective Service.

– If you did not register with the Selective Service System, and you are not yet 26 years old, you must register before you file your naturalization application. You can get a Selective Service registration form at your local post office, or you can register online at

– If you are over age 26 but have not yet reached your 31st birthday (or 29th birthday if married to a U.S. citizen) and either:

1.) You failed to register with Selective Service when you were required to do so because you did not know about the obligation to register, or

2.) You knew about the duty to register with Selective Service but nevertheless failed to do so or refused to do so, please contact us for assistance with the required documentation you need to submit along with your application.

9. One of your parents became a U.S. citizen before you turned 18. You may already be a U.S. citizen.

– You may have obtained (derived) citizenship upon the naturalization of your parent(s), prior to you turning 18 years of age. It will depend on the law and its requirements that were in effect at that time. For more in-depth information about deriving citizenship and to determine your status, please see “Naturalization Through Parents” page click here.