How Does Voting During Your Immigration Process Affect Your Good Moral Character?

Applicants for naturalization must show they have GMC, “Good Moral Character”, during the five-year period before filing their application for Naturalization on Form N-400 and until they take the Oath of Allegiance to qualify for citizenship. However, this does not necessarily mean that their conduct prior to the five-year period may not be taken into consideration.

What is GMC?

Good Moral Character (GMC) means that the applicant in question meets the moral standards of average citizens in their community. In general, if you are an honest person who respects the law, you will most likely qualify. Factors that would probably not play in your favor would be:

  1. Committing crimes
  2. Harming others
  3. Lying on immigration or government benefit applications
  4. Helping someone illegally enter the U.S.

Is It a Good Idea to Vote During Your Immigration Process?

According to USCIS’ most recent policy guidance update on naturalization eligibility and voter registration through a state’s benefit application process, unlawfully registering to vote or unlawfully voting in the U.S may also result in USCIS considering that the applicant in question does not meet GMC requirements.

However, the updated policy manual states that applicants will not be penalized if:

  1. Their registration to vote was done unknowingly.
  2. The voter registration section in the motor vehicle or other state benefit application was not completed and signed (electronic signatures included).
  3. There was no indication of having U.S citizenship on the registration form. However, if they registered to vote, they need to prove the absence of any question asking them about having U.S citizenship or the lack of an affirmative answer to that question.

It also states that applicants may be penalized if they knowingly answered “yes” to having U.S citizenship in order to register to vote. They will be considered lacking GMC due to an unlawful act in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1015(f). It doesn’t matter if the applicant’s registration to vote was done at the same time of their driver’s license or ID card application, or an application for other state benefits.

Indeed, many states include voter registration in their application for a driver’s license or state ID card because, based on the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, eligible voters have the choice of registering to vote at the same time they apply for driver’s licenses or ID cards at the state’s motor vehicle authority. However, applicants who unlawfully register to vote or the ones who falsely claim to be U.S citizens during this process can expect that doing so will affect their GMC negatively.

So, What Happens if I Vote During My Immigration Process?

Long story short, voting during your immigration process, or even registering to vote, will most probably affect your Good Moral Character (GMC) negatively. Showing that you have a Good Moral Character is a requirement for your naturalization application so it’s not recommended to do anything that could have a negative impact on it.

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