Good Moral Character in a Virginia VAWA Application

Good moral character is an ambiguous definition that is set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are a list of items that will absolutely disqualify a person for not possessing good moral character, such as engaging in commercialized vice or being a habitual drunkard. Certain criminal offenses will automatically disqualify you from proving good moral character.

While there are statutory disqualifications for proving good moral character, USCIS can make discretionary determinations on each application even if an individual is not barred by one of the statutory disqualifications for providing good moral character. If there is an incident in an individual’s past that USCIS knows about, and that which suggests that the individual has bad moral character, USCIS has full ability to deny the individual’s application on those grounds.

A Virginia VAWA immigration lawyer can help you prepare the necessary materials to prove your good moral character as you prepare to submit your VAWA application.

Proving Good Moral Character

The first step that every applicant has to take to prove good moral character is to subject themselves to the background check requirements on both the state and local levels, and comply with the USCIS biometrics. A statutorily disqualifying criminal offense will prohibit an individual from proving that they are a person of good moral character.

After completing all of the background check requirements, people are able to supplement their applications with letters of reference from others that know them, who can say that the applicant is a good person, and that their application deserves a favorable exercise of discretion because they are in fact, a person of good moral character.

Disqualification as a Person of Good Moral Character

An applicant can be disqualified from VAWA eligibility for not being a person of good moral character if there is an existing record of their behavior that is simply unacceptable and does not give the United States reason to view their request for residency in a favorable light. There are many factors that can disqualify an applicant, among them, an individual can be disqualified for not being a person of good moral character if they:

  • Are a habitual drunkard or repeat offender of substance abuse crimes
  • Have committed certain crimes, such as an aggravated felony
  • Have committed crimes involving moral turpitude
  • Are engaged in or derive their income principally from illegal gambling
  • Have given false testimony to obtain immigration benefits

While it occurs rarely, some people are also disqualified because of their moral character if they have engaged in or associated with conduct that is related to:

  • Assistance in Nazi persecution
  • Participation in genocide
  • Commission of acts of torture
  • Extrajudicial killings

This is not the case for the typical VAWA applicant, but may be an issue if a client has been associated with a political party that has engaged in genocide.

Losing VAWA Eligibility

Proof of good moral character is an absolutely essential component of a VAWA application. If a person is determined, by USCIS, to not have good moral character, then they are not eligible for VAWA because it is an explicitly stated requirement of the program.