Canadian Minnesota Immigration Information

Trying to obtain citizenship is difficult enough without adding the stress of having a criminal record. A criminal record can hinder the naturalization process by affecting the “good moral character” requirement to gain citizenship in the United States.

During the Application for Naturalization, the applicant must disclose any information pertaining to his or her criminal record. Even if the individual was merely arrested without a conviction, the arrest must be disclosed. If a judge dismisses the case for an arrest, the record of the arrest may be inconsequential.

Similarly, if the applicant pleads guilty to a crime, but the conviction was discharged or sealed due to the completion of a court ordered program such as community service or the deferred prosecution plan, then the arrest will only be relevant depending on the nature of the crime for which the individual was arrested.

If, however, the individual was arrested for crimes involving drug trafficking or violent crimes, then the adjudicator may find the dismissed or discharged arrest relevant and critical while evaluating naturalization.

How an Expungement May Help with the Naturalization Process

Flags representing Candaian immigration into America
The road to naturalization is already laden with obstacles and can be extremely difficult. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, “each year, USCIS welcomes approximately 680,000 citizens during naturalization ceremonies across the united states and around the world.” Statistics from the department of Homeland Security shows that over 83, 000 applicants were denied in 2013. Many applications are denied if they do not meet the general eligibility requirement, such as being a person of good moral character.

While expungement or record sealing may not completely hide a past conviction from public view, sealing a criminal record does make a bad situation better. A granted petition for record sealing demonstrates that the individual has changed and has been rehabilitated since his or her conviction. A court will only grant a record sealing or expungement if the applicant has complied with court terms and is now considered favorably by the court, which speaks to the individual’s good moral standing.

Expunging a criminal record does not guarantee successful naturalization. Clearing or sealing a criminal record can help the naturalization process by showing USCIS that the individual applying for citizenship is still in good moral standing.