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Will petit larceny conviction affect citizenship eligibility?

An individual living and working in South Carolina under a green card might want to pursue citizenship in the future. However, there are requirements for good moral character, which could be affected by conviction of crimes while residing in the U.S. The types of crimes and the results of criminal cases might interfere with naturalization, especially if a sufficient period of time has not passed since such incidents when a person decides to begin the proceedings to obtain citizenship.

An individual pursuing naturalization is typically expected to have demonstrated good moral character for at least five years. This is reduced to a requirement of three years of good conduct when seeking citizenship based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen. If an individual has been convicted of a crime within that period, there could be a need to wait until sufficient time has passed before seeking citizenship.

Petit larceny is considered a misdemeanor in South Carolina, which is not as serious as a felony. This type of crime does not usually prevent an individual from naturalizing in the future, and it is not considered grounds for deporting an offender. However, the fact that it could cast a shadow of doubt on an individual's character makes it wise for such a party to seek legal advice prior to beginning the naturalization process.

People who have had encounters with the law in the past might find it advisable to work with an immigration lawyer as they begin to complete the applications needed for obtaining U.S. citizenship. Legal counsel can gather legal documentation related to any cases that have involved such a client as well as statements of employers and others who could attest to the current character of a candidate for citizenship.

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