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“Good moral character,” political offenses and immigration

When people in Virginia are trying to navigate the complex nature of immigration and naturalization, certain terms come up that could stoke confusion. A broad term that is used when assessing candidates for naturalization is that they are found to be of “good moral character,” or GMC.

The idea behind GMC is that an immigrant is expected to live up to the standards of the community. They must show that they have been of GMC during a certain time called the statutory period. Generally, it is limited to the past five years, but courts may consider time beyond that. Certain spouses of U.S. citizens will be assessed based on three years.

This is done based on each individual case, but generally, any history of criminal activity can greatly hurt an immigrant’s position.

However, there is an exception for people whose criminal charges were political in nature. Knowing how to take advantage of this exception requires understanding the rules and having professional assistance.

Political offense exceptions

In some countries, there is a political atmosphere that persecutes specific people for myriad justifications. It could be due to objecting to the manner of government, based on ethnic and religious differences or for many other reasons. Some people were charged with offenses based on that.

If it was a purely political offense and there was a conviction or conviction and imprisonment outside of the United States, then it might not negatively impact a person’s immigration case. These are viewed as having stemmed from fabricated allegations or attempts to repress people.

The following exceptions for being barred based on GMC are in the category of purely political offense: being convicted for at least one crime of moral turpitude; two or more offenses that resulted in a sentence of at least five years; and being incarcerated for at least 180 days. They will not apply if it was a purely political offense.

Immigration and naturalization concerns often require professional assistance

Many people who are trying to move to the United States are doing so because they faced political challenges in their home country. Some might even have been convicted of crimes and incarcerated. That does not automatically prevent them from coming to live legally in the U.S.

For these complicated cases where there are concerns about past offenses and how they will be assessed as part of the immigration process, it is wise to have experienced legal guidance that knows how the process works and can help find a solution to the challenges of the case.

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