Do misdemeanors impact naturalization application?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Citizenship And Naturalization |

Navigating the path to naturalization is a significant journey for immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens. Statista reports that 969,380 immigrants became U.S. citizens in 2022.

However, many factors impact eligibility for citizenship. One factor is the presence of misdemeanors in one’s record.

Character consideration

One important element of the naturalization process is demonstrating good moral character. Immigration officials assess an applicant’s background, including any misdemeanors. While a single misdemeanor may not disqualify an applicant, habitual or severe misdemeanors can raise concerns about an individual’s moral character. A person with exceptional moral character may sway the court’s opinion.

Type of crime

The presence of certain misdemeanors can impact an applicant’s eligibility for naturalization. Crimes related to dishonesty, moral turpitude or controlled substances can be particularly problematic. Immigration officials assess whether an individual’s actions align with the values and laws of the United States.

Willingness to complete rehabilitation

For those with a misdemeanor in their past, proving rehabilitation is important. This involves showcasing efforts to lead an honest and law-abiding life since the incident. Documentation of completed probation, community service or counseling can strengthen an applicant’s case. This evidence demonstrates a commitment to positive change.


The timing of the misdemeanor can also influence its impact on naturalization applications. Recent offenses may raise more concerns than those that occurred several years ago. Individuals with recent misdemeanors should consider waiting for several years before applying for naturalization. A misdemeanor stays on your record for life. Time with no more convictions shows the courts that you have changed your ways.

Misdemeanors impact naturalization applications. However, they do not always serve as an impossible obstacle to overcome. Applicants must approach the process of naturalization with transparency. Understanding the nuances of how misdemeanors can affect naturalization allows individuals to make informed decisions as they pursue the dream of U.S. citizenship.