Chapter 3 - Evidence and the Record

A. Applicant Testimony

Issues relevant to the good moral character (GMC) requirement may arise at any time during the naturalization interview. The officer’s questions during the interview should elicit a complete record of any criminal, unlawful, or questionable activity in which the applicant has ever engaged regardless of whether that information eventually proves to be material to the GMC determination.

The officer should take into consideration the education level of the applicant and his or her knowledge of the English language. The officer may rephrase questions and supplement the inquiry with additional questions to better ensure that the applicant understands the proceedings. [1] 

The officer must take a sworn statement from an applicant when the applicant admits committing an offense for which the applicant has never been formally charged, indicted, arrested or convicted. [2] 

B. Court Dispositions

In general, an officer has the authority to request the applicant to provide a court disposition for any criminal offense committed in the United States or abroad to properly determine whether the applicant meets the GMC requirement. USCIS requires applicants to provide court dispositions certified by the pertinent jurisdiction for any offense committed during the statutory period. In addition, USCIS may request any additional evidence that may affect a determination regarding the applicant’s GMC. The burden is on the applicant to show that an offense does not prevent him or her from establishing GMC. 

An applicant is required to provide a certified court disposition for any arrest involving the following offenses and circumstances, regardless of whether the arrest resulted in a conviction:

  • Arrest for criminal act committed during the statutory period;

  • Arrest that occurred on or after November 29, 1990, that may be an aggravated felony; [3] 

  • Arrest for murder;

  • Arrest for any offense that would render the applicant removable;

  • Arrest for offenses outside the statutory period, if when combined with other offenses inside the statutory period, the offense would preclude the applicant from establishing GMC; and

  • Arrest for crime where the applicant would still be on probation at the time of adjudication of the naturalization application or may have been incarcerated for 180 days during the statutory period.

These procedures are not intended to limit the discretion of any officer in requesting documentation that the officer needs to properly assess an applicant’s GMC.

In cases where a court disposition or police record is not available, the applicant must provide original or certified confirmation that the record is not available from the applicable law enforcement agency or court.

C. Failure to Respond to Request for Evidence

In cases where the initial naturalization examination has already been conducted, the officer should adjudicate the naturalization application on the merits where the applicant fails to respond to a request for additional evidence. [4] The officer should not deny the application for lack of prosecution after the initial naturalization examination. [5] 


[^ 1] See Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing [12 USCIS-PM E.2], for guidance on rephrasing questions.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 316.10(b)(2)(iv). See Chapter 2, Adjudicative Factors, Section E, Admission of Certain Criminal Acts [12 USCIS-PM F.2(E)]. 

[^ 3] See INA 101(a)(43). See Chapter 4, Permanent Bars to Good Moral Character (GMC), Section B, Aggravated Felony [12 USCIS-PM F.4(B)].

[^ 4] See Part B, Naturalization Examination, Chapter 4, Results of the Naturalization Examination [12 USCIS-PM B.4], for guidance on decisions on the application, to include cases where the applicant fails to respond.

[^ 5] See INA 335(e). See 8 CFR 335.7.

Current as of October 20, 2021