Controlled Substances and Naturalization
Naturalization is the process by which individuals not born on United States soil become American citizens. The process requires a long application process in order to satisfy certain general requirements. One of these requirements is that the applicant prove, through his or her application, that he or she is a person of good moral character. The good moral character requirement is somewhat vague and ambiguous and is consequently dependent on the interpretation of the USCIS officer who reviews an application. Nonetheless, some activities will universally impact the determination of an applicant’s good moral character in a negative way.
One of those activities is the violation of federal controlled substances laws. Recently, USCIS issued new policy guidance explaining how the infringement of federal controlled substance laws affects naturalization determinations. Generally, violations of federal controlled substance laws, including marijuana-related offenses, will prevent a naturalization applicant from establishing that he or she has good moral character. This is so even if the controlled substance was possessed, used or distributed in a state where that substance is legal, such as marijuana in the District of Columbia.
Though some states have elected to decriminalize marijuana in one form or another, marijuana remains an illegal, controlled substance under federal law and the manufacture, distribution or possession of marijuana has immigration consequences since immigration falls under the jurisdiction of federal law.
If you are planning on applying for naturalization, or you already have applied and you have questions or concerns about how controlled substance-related activities may impact your application, please do not hesitate to call Berardi Immigration Law to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys today!